American Life Building

Standing at 12-stories tall, the 84,000 square-foot Martin Office Building was built in April 1925. Shortly after it’s completion, space was made to house the Birmingham City Commission and other departments while the Birmingham City Hall was being repaired, after a fire destroyed the library and caused irreparable damage to the central tower. The architectural firm of Turner & McPherson had offices on the 12th floor.

The property was sold in 1946 and in March 1947, the FBI Birmingham Division moved into the building, where it remained until moving to the 2121 Building in December 1962.

The building became the headquarters of the newly-formed American Life Insurance Company, and was known as the American Life Building. Even today, it is better known as American Life for the large lettering emblazoned on the back of the building. American Life acquired the Stonewall Insurance Company of Mobile and moved its headquarters to Birmingham in 1967. It remained the lead tenant of the renamed “Stonewall Building” until 1979, after which the offices and retail spaces were gradually vacated. It found a use as a document storage facility until about 2000.

At that time, it was in need of renovation and was listed on Operation New Birmingham’s 12 Most Wanted list. The list included many prominent downtown buildings in need of renovation, but many remained abandoned due to the 2008-09 Great Recession.

In 2004, a plan developed in 2004 to convert the building into 48 condominiums for $4 million eventually fell through, though asbestos was removed from the building in 2006.

The building is currently owned by brothers Leo and Ed Ticheli who in 2008 planned to convert it into 71 apartments. The schedule for redevelopment for the Stonewall Building was dependent on the housing market and would follow the completion of the Massey Building and Jackson Hotel, which the Tichelis also own. The project was expected to cost about $10 million, and stalled out during the Great Recession of 2008-09.

Even though many prominent buildings in the downtown era are undergoing renovations, including the Thomas Jefferson Hotel, the Pizitz Building, and the Empire Building, there have been no future plans announced for the American Life building.

American Life Building | Photo © 2015 Bullet, www.autopsyofarchitecture.com

American Life Building | Photo © 2015 Bullet, www.autopsyofarchitecture.com

American Life Building | Photo © 2015 Bullet, www.autopsyofarchitecture.com

American Life Building | Photo © 2015 Bullet, www.autopsyofarchitecture.com

American Life Building | Photo © 2015 Bullet, www.autopsyofarchitecture.com

American Life Building | Photo © 2015 Bullet, www.autopsyofarchitecture.com

American Life Building | Photo © 2015 Bullet, www.autopsyofarchitecture.com

American Life Building | Photo © 2015 Bullet, www.autopsyofarchitecture.com

American Life Building | Photo © 2015 Bullet, www.autopsyofarchitecture.com

American Life Building | Photo © 2015 Bullet, www.autopsyofarchitecture.com

American Life Building | Photo © 2015 Bullet, www.autopsyofarchitecture.com

American Life Building | Photo © 2015 Bullet, www.autopsyofarchitecture.com

American Life Building | Photo © 2015 Bullet, www.autopsyofarchitecture.com

American Life Building | Photo © 2015 Bullet, www.autopsyofarchitecture.com

American Life Building | Photo © 2015 Bullet, www.autopsyofarchitecture.com

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