The fourth of the six white-painted concrete buildings that surround the Capitol: 2 in front, 2 in back, 1 on each side. For years this one, built in 1958, was officially called The State Administrative Building. Then, in 1986 it was renamed for Gov James E “Big Jim” Folsom. Compare it to the Statehouse, erected five years later, and you will note that the two were designed as a matching pair. Thirty years ago, when working on a building (never built) that would have connected the Folsom Building to the Statehouse, we asked the always colorful Joe McCorquedale, who was then Speaker of the House, how close the new addition would have to match the Folsom Building (which we thought was ugly). Joe looked out his window, stroked his chin, and said, “Well, it is ugly, but it will have to be close enough, that if I rode by on a bucking horse I would think it matched”.
James E. “Big Jim” Folsom, certainly the most embarrassing governor Alabama ever had in my opinion. This family picture at right shows him and his wife with their seven children in front of the mansion during his second term. He was first elected in 1946 and his country background, outlandish appearance and crude demeanor made Alabama the laughing stock of the nation. Big Jim stood down a term (as then required by law) and was reelected in ’54. His huge “Farm to Market” road program, which allowed him to build roads for his supporters and cronies all over the state, earned him a place in the Alabama Road Builders Hall of Fame, and probably was the impetus that got his name on the building above.
Jim Folsom Jr.,Lt. Governor 2007–2011, is the young fellow in the gray trousers.