The 1906 Pegasus is perhaps the only yearbook of old Birmingham College. A digital copy is available from the library of Birmingham-Southern College, a descendant of that school. I am indebted to both the school and the archivist, who provided supplemental information. The library has also made available the 1916 Birmingham College Reporter, the student newspaper.
The North Alabama Conference of the Methodist Church had supported Southern University, the State Conference college, from its founding. However, the North Conference began to plan for a college of its own. This came in 1897, and the college was opened with a hilltop campus on the west side of Birmingham. As late as 1906, students lamented that their college was nameless. It was variously called the North Alabama Conference College for its sponsor—note the initials above from the Pegasus—and Owenton College for the suburb where it was located. Finally, in 1906, it took the official name of Birmingham College.
The 1906 Pegasus shows a student body of around one hundred. Thirty-four of these were classed as “sub-collegiate.” A de facto male student body included two freshmen co-eds.
Almost all of the students were members of one of the two literary societies—the R.E. Lee and Eumenean. Each had its own college room and each sponsored a “society annual.” There were also less formal social organizations such as the “Buster Club.”
After twenty years, the two Methodist Conferences decided to combine their schools, creating Birmingham-Southern College in 1918.
Bricks and Mortar
The Birmingham Age-Herald noted, “There could possibly not be found a more beautiful spot for a college” than the hilltop location of the campus—three miles west of downtown Birmingham. According to the newspaper, the elevation and drainage made it a healthful location.
The new building was close enough to completion for classes to begin in Mid-September of 1898 at the opening of the college. The building, described as “Owenton College” is the only building shown in the Pegasus. When the colleges combined in 1918, it became the Administration Building, later named Rose Owen Hall. It was razed prior to 1928. According to Professor Guy W. Hubbs, BSC archivist, Munger Hall was built on the site.
Science Hall, built in 1916, also passed into use for BSC and was renamed Erskine Ramsey Hall in 1925. Described as “one of the college’s oldest and loveliest buildings,” it was razed in 1988 to make way for a new science complex.
“Owenton College” (1906 Pegasus, Courtesy of Birmingham Southern College.)
Team name: Panthers
School Colors: Gold and Black
Birmingham College fielded a baseball team in its first year. The Birmingham Age-Herald reported that Owenton College lost to the Birmingham Business College 6-1 on May 3, 1899. The 1906 Pegasus shows an athletic field—Munger Field—but no gymnasium. It contains photos of two sports teams: basketball and baseball. There was also a tennis club.
College Football Data Warehouse shows a football team as early as 1904, but the earliest newspaper accounts date from 1908. Birmingham College played football through 1916. That team, the school’s best, won seven of eight games, losing only to Alabama. The Panthers defeated Howard, the Baptist school from Birmingham; Marion Military Institute; Jacksonville Normal; Southern Presbyterian; Spring Hill; Albertville Aggies; and fellow Methodists from Southern University. Of those seven wins, six were shutouts. The 1917 season was cancelled following the loss of so many key players to military service.
The 1916 football team (Birmingham College Reporter, Courtesy of Birmingham Southern College).