There were many early schools in Shades Valley in the late 1800s and early 1900s. You can learn more about those on the Homewood Elementary School episode or in the book Homewood: Life of a City by Sheryl Summe. The two that I have images of are listed here.

Union Hill

Union Hill School which was part of Union Hill Methodist Episcopal church and was located right where the bridge is at Hollywood Boulevard and Highway 280. The school was founded in about 1867 by residents of the Waddell community which was at Oxmoor and Cahaba Roads and would later become Mountain Brook. This school was moved to a building on the corner of the Shades Cahaba property in 1920 when Shades Cahaba opened.  the students were eventually moved into the main building and officially became part of the shades Cahaba.

The Zelosophian Academy

Dr. James Hugh Blair Hall

It was Founded by Dr. James Hugh Blair Hall in the Oak Grove Community in 1883. It was featured in the book “Where to educate, 1898-1899; a guide to the best private schools, higher institutions of learning, etc., in the United States” by Grace Powers Thomas which was published by Brown and Company out of Boston.

The school welcomed students from first grade to college level and met initially in the Oak Grove Cumberland Presbyterian Church sanctuary until an academy building was added onto the rear of the church. Enrollment began with 119 students in the first term. Students were exposed to a broad liberal arts curriculum. Younger students had time for “health and motions” alongside their spelling and counting lessons. Those in the middle grades focused on languages (Latin, Greek, French, and German) as well as history, including Alabama history, and religion. Older pupils were instructed in psychology, zoology, geology, astronomy, and international law. 

The location of the school and church is at the northwest corner of the Oxmoor Road and Greensprings Highway intersection where the Shell station is located. You may have noticed a marker on the corner with a plaque marking the location.

Photos of the Zelosophian Academy from the Alabama Department of Archives and History.