BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — The founders of Underground Birmingham have been at it for decades. What started as a passion and hobby in childhood has now morphed into a Facebook page with over 16,000 followers and requests from big-name companies and organizations to help them preserve their history.
“We get to reveal a history and a story about our city that people have never seen,” said Jeff Newman, one of the founders. “A lot of young people didn’t even know it exists.”
Monday, Underground Birmingham invited CBS 42 on one of their adventures. We can’t tell you where we went–other than to say that it’s a hospital just outside of Birmingham that is slated to be demolished.
“This one, we’ve been asked by the owner of this building to document it for them before demolition,” Newman said. “We’ll go to each room and see if there’s anything interesting worth photographing.”
Newman explained that lots of property owners are interested in their free services. Some want to preserve the history of the building as they are preparing to rehab it. Others know that the structure has meant a lot to its community, and they want to give people a chance to look back in time to the places where their loved ones lived and worked.
“Just the experience and the excitement of being able to go through these places is enough,” Newman said.
For Newman and co-founder Josh Box, exploring these abandoned buildings and mines is an adrenaline rush. Box described one of his favorite ‘urbex’ experiences as when he visited Six Flags Over New Orleans, post-Katrina. You can see pictures from his trip on their Facebook page, here.
“There’s beauty in abandonment,” said Box. “There’s beauty in decay. That’s what the goal is to show. Yes, even though the building has been unoccupied or this mine hasn’t been occupied in 100 years, there’s still beauty in there.”
Some of that beauty is almost captured like a time capsule, particularly in some of the mines.
“I know it’s kind of crazy for an old man to be that excited about a hole in the ground, but that’s history,” said Newman. “That’s what it’s all about.”