Former Banks High School had a long history in Birmingham

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Long considered an eyesore in the community, demolition on the former Banks High School began Tuesday.

Before being abandoned over a decade ago, the building had a long history in Birmingham.

Before closing its doors for good 14 years ago, the school went through many changes. Opened in 1957, the school was named after former Birmingham City Schools Superintendent L. Frazier Banks and covered six different buildings along 86th Street South in the South East Lake neighborhood of Birmingham. According to Bham Wiki, over 1,000 students were enrolled at Banks at one time.

A football game between Banks High and Woodlawn on November 8, 1974 is regarded by some as the biggest high school football game in Alabama history. According to the Alabama High School Football Historical Society, over 42,000 people watched the two top-ranked teams face one another at Legion Field. Banks defeated Woodlawn 18-7. The game served as a pivotal point in the 2015 movie “Woodlawn.”

By 1990, Banks High was converted into a middle school and became Banks Middle School. After years of dwindling enrollment, the school closed in 2007.

The building sat vacant for years. For a time, there was a petition being signed by people in the neighborhood to have the city tear down the school.

“It’s unfortunate, I love historic buildings but seeing a historic building like this in this condition just makes me sad and I don’t think anyone wants to see it and it can’t be brought back to where she was and put to a good purpose I don’t think anybody wants to see it here decaying,” resident Kimberley Jeanty told CBS 42 in 2017.

In a 2019 town hall meeting, the Auburn University Design Studio presented different options for what the property could become, from a recreational facility to a grocery store.

Many of its students went on to bigger things in Alabama. Here are some of Banks High’s notable alumni:

-Del Marsh, Alabama Senate president pro tem

-John Archibald, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for Alabama Media Group

-Johnny Musso, All-American running back for the Alabama Crimson Tide football team

-John Amari, Trussville attorney and judge for 10th Judicial Circuit Court

-Ann Fowler, Miss Alabama 1970

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