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Vestavia Hills Alabama

Vestavia Hills is a city in Jefferson and Shelby Counties in the U.S. state of Alabama. It is an affluent suburb of the city of Birmingham.

Vestavia Hills is named for the 20 acre (8.09 hectare) estate of former Birmingham mayor George B. Ward which was situated on the crest of Shades Mountain in what is now the northern edge of the city. Ward's mansion at the Vestavia estate became a landmark in the area as soon as it was completed in 1925. The two and a half story house was patterned after the circular Temple of Vesta in Rome with dark pink sandstone walls encircled by twenty massive white Doric columns surmounted by a carved entablature. The extensive gardens, populated by statuary and peacocks, featured a smaller domed gazebo, which was patterned after the Temple of Sibyl in Tivoli.

After Ward's death, the house, something of a tourist stop near the highway between Birmingham and Montgomery, was used as a tea-room and reception hall before being purchased by Vestavia Hills Baptist Church. The church met in the temple structure for several years before demolishing a portion of the building in 1971 to make way for a larger building. A center portion of the original building remains today. The gazebo was relocated by the garden club to a prominent outcropping closer to the highway to serve as a landmark gateway into the community.

The development of Vestavia Hills as a residential suburb began in 1946 when developer Charles Byrd planned a subdivision for approximately 1000 persons on the gently sloping southern flank of Shades Mountain. It was incorporated as a separate city on November 8, 1950 and has since grown, by rapid development and annexation, into a thriving small city. As of 2006 Census Bureau estimates, the population of the Vestavia Hills is 31,051.



As of the census of 2000, there were 24,476 people, 10,841 households, and 7,878 families residing in the city, though annexations since that time have increased the population to 31,051, as of the 2006 United States Census estimates. The population density was 1,672.7 people per square mile (645.9/km˛). There were 10,523 housing units at an average density of 719.1/sq mi (277.7/km˛). The racial makeup of the city was 94.46% White, 1.85% Black or African American, 0.11% Native American, 2.47% Asian, 0.10% Pacific Islander, 0.35% from other races, and 0.67% from two or more races. 1.36% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 9,841 households out of which 34.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 61.1% were married couples living together, 7.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 30.1% were non-families. 26.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.48 and the average family size was 3.03.

In the city the population was spread out with 25.8% under the age of 18, 6.0% from 18 to 24, 25.9% from 25 to 44, 26.1% from 45 to 64, and 16.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41 years. For every 100 females there were 88.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 83.3 males.

According to a 2007 estimate, the median income for a household in the city was $76,793, and the median income for a family was $106,432. Males had a median income of $72,837 versus $37,083 for females. The per capita income for the city was $40,392. About 2.2% of families and 3.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 1.6% of those under age 18 and 4.5% of those age 65 or over.



he high quality of the school system in Vestavia Hills has been recognized by the Wall Street Journal and other sources. It comprises five elementary schools, two middle schools, one alternative school and one high school with a total enrollment of some 6000 students. Vestavia Hills High School is known for the success of its math and debate teams, which have each won several national competitions. The schools' band and baseball programs have also received much recognition. The 2008-2009 boys basketball team won the Alabama state championship in division 6A. Vestavia opened its 8th school in August 2008, Liberty Park Middle School.

In Fall 2006, the Vestavia Hills Board of Education moved to petition the federal government to end the required desegregation busing of predominantly black students from the Shannon/Oxmoor Valley area due to overcrowding. The Unitary Status court settlement was federally approved in July 2007. Any students currently enrolled at any Vestavia Hills' school will be allowed to continue in the system until graduation from the high school.


© John R. Taylor

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