Timeline

1916

Around 1916, Zelosophian Academy graduates Will Franke and William Acton led a successful campaign convincing the Jefferson County Board of Education that a high school was needed south of Birmingham. With the board’s permission, the Shades Valley School District was formed and the residents passed a three-mill tax in 1916 to build a new high school. County school officials selected ten acres costing $3,000 at the intersection of Montgomery Highway and the juncture of Oxmoor and Old Montevallo Roads as the site for the school. 

The Zelosophian Academy was a coeducational private school founded in September 1892 by James Hugh Blair Hall in connection with the Oak Grove Cumberland Presbyterian Church in the Shades Valley community of Oak Grove. Read more about the academy at Bham Wiki.

1919

Construction of the three-wing, brick building began in 1919 and cost $52,000.

1920

The school, Jefferson County’s first consolidated high school, opened with four high school grades, five teachers and 156 students on September 19, 1920. As the new high school opened, elementary school students from nearby Union Hill Methodist Episcopal School moved into a wooden, two-room building on the high school’s property, just east of it.

1921

Electricity was not run to the school until its second year.

1922

An unfinished, unpainted, wood-frame building was built behind the school to serve as both lunchroom and wood shop.

1923

The first class graduated in 1923.

1926

The first addition was built in the summer of 1926 to help relieve overcrowding

1926

Edgewood Elementary School Opens

1927

A second addition was completed that included a new lunchroom. The addition also allowed the 3rd through 6th grade students to be moved to the main building. Union Hill Methodist Episcopal School and Shades Cahaba combined and were called Shades Cahaba.

1928

The elementary and high schools were placed under the same administration, although it was grades 7th through 12th that were considered the high school.

1928

Hall Kent Elementary School opens.

1920s

Shades Cahaba always fielded exceptional sports teams. In the 1920s, the football and baseball teams were coached by Sidney Malloy followed by R.R. Hardy in 1929.

1932

By 1932, the school had expanded to 22 teachers, plus an associate principal.

1930s

Shades Cahaba had an active sports program featuring boys and girls basketball teams and boys football and baseball teams. The teams were known as the Mountaineers, or “Mounties” for short. 

The yearbook was “The Owl,” and the school newspaper was “The Owlet.” The yearbook and newspaper were both named for the 900-pound, cast-concrete owl perched on the roof, above what was the original main entrance, now known as the owl door.

1934

Oren “Piggy” Mitchell became the coach at Shades Cahaba until he moved to the new Shades Valley High School in 1949. He brought basketball to the county schools that didn’t have gyms by starting a dirt court basketball league.

1936

Due to the Great Depression, Jefferson County Schools decided to close their schools early. Homewood provided funds to keep Shades Cahaba, Edgewood Elementary, and Rosedale Schools open nine months a year. Shades Cahaba was the only high school in Alabama to keep its Southern Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools accreditation throughout the Depression.

1940s

Shades Cahaba was the only school in the state that had an athletic field with lights, speakers and an electronic scoreboard. Throughout the ’40s, the school achieved high academic and athletic successes.

After the neglect of the Depression, the school was completely repaired and repainted in the 1940s. A central heating system (radiators) and fluorescent lights were also installed. Funds for the overhaul came from both the county and Homewood with additional assistance from local civic groups.

The student population topped 1,000 by the mid-forties and the citizens of Homewood began demanding a new school to handle the overcrowding. The county school board, with the promise of financial assistance from Homewood and newly incorporated Mountain Brook, finally agreed.

1949

When the new high school was built, the chosen name of the new school would be Shades Valley High School. Many students and graduates of Shades Cahaba objected to not carrying the name of the existing school to the new one. The Homewood City Council and several civic groups also passed resolutions requesting the name be continued, but the county refused. Shades Valley High School did, however, continue the team name of the Mountaineers when it opened in 1949. At that point, Shades Cahaba became strictly an elementary school.

1949

During the switch from high school to elementary school, the concrete owl that had been standing watch on the roof of the school for almost three decades was removed. Know one knows why but it would be some time before the owl was returned.

1950s

Shortly after the school’s conversion, the county and city both provided a total of $67,000 for a new auditorium and gymnasium.

With high schools students attending Shades Valley High School, Shades Cahaba was home to grades 1-8.

1950s

In the early 1950s, when Montgomery Highway was widened, a pedestrian tunnel was built out of concern for students’ safety. This tunnel became known as the underpass. Hill Food Stores received $20,000 for the portion of its parking lot required for the western entry. The underpass was used to film one of the scenes of the 1988 film, The Verne Miller Story.

1956

Homewood Junior High School was opened as a part of Jefferson County Schools. At the time, the school was an intermediate step between the local elementary schools and Shades Valley High School. The original building was built on “Kite Hill” located on Frisco Street, three blocks north of Dawson Memorial Baptist Church. The school’s sports teams were originally known as the Indians.

1960s

Shades Cahaba was the only public school in the area offering special education classes.

1966

The Jefferson County school system integrates all schools with a chance to attend any school. The first African-American students enter Shades Cahaba during the 1966-1967 school year, most coming from Rosedale School.

1969

On December 22, 1969, the Homewood City Council established the Homewood Board of Education, which would assume authority on July 1, 1970.

1970

The Homewood Board of Education assumed authority on July 1, 1970. The initial board consisted of Dr. Leslie Wright, Madison W. O’Kelley, Jack R. Gurley, Richard T. Ownes, and Mamie Foster. G. Virgil Nunn was the first superintendent.

1970

Shades Cahaba became one of Homewood City Schools’ three elementary schools. Homewood Junior High School became part of the system as well.

1971

Because Shades Valley High School was not in the city limits, Homewood did not have a high school. Instead, students were allowed to continue attending Shades Valley if they paid tuition.

To pay for a new high school, a five-mill tax was passed by voters. The city then swapped city owned land with 15 acres of Samford University land. The city then purchased an additional ten acres, all along South Lakeshore Drive.

1972

Homewood High School opened. The school was completed quickly at a cost of $3.5 million and opened in December 1972. Michael Gross, principal of Homewood Junior High School, was appointed as the high school’s first principal.

1978

After spending many years in county storage, the owl was sold to a private party and became a garden ornament at a local home. After the owls rediscovery, the class of 1948 helped restore the owl to its original perch in 1978.

Late 1970s

The Junior High was renamed Homewood Middle School. Within a few years of the name change, the school adopted the Patriots mascot to match Homewood High School.

1990s

A building renovation in the early 1990’s moved the main entrance of the school from the side facing Hollywood Boulevard to what had been a back corner, facing southwest to Independence Drive at about a 45 degree angle.

A new library, lunchroom and offices were built in what had been a courtyard in the middle of the school and behind the auditiorium. Other improvements were made to the school as well.

2005

Homewood Middle School opens just to the west of, and to replace, the former Homewood Junior High School.

2019

Shades Cahaba welcomes its 100th class of students

2020

On September 19, 2020, Shades Cahaba School celebrates 100 years as a school.