Vestavia Hills Baptist Church
Vestavia Hills Baptist Church, constituted May 6, 1957, first met at Vestavia Hills City Hall. The church purchased the George Ward estate in 1958. On the property was Ward's home, "Vestavia," a replica of a Roman temple built in the 1920s; a restaurant addition of the 1940s; and the Temple of Sybil. As the original structure deteriorated and church membership grew, the congregation razed Ward's home, gave Sybil to the city, and built the present structure, completed in 1972.
George Ward 1867-1940
George Ward, born in Georgia, moved to Birmingham (1871) where his family operated the city's first hotel, the Relay House. A successful businessman, he also was elected as a Birmingham alderman (1899), mayor (1904-1910), and president of the Birmingham City Commission (1913-17). Ward was a progressive urban reformer who, as mayor, oversaw the construction of libraries, playgrounds, parks, and community centers, and improved services to Birmingham's African American community. "Vestavia," the home Ward built on Shades Mountain overlooking Birmingham, was modeled on the Roman Temple of Vestal Virgins, and was surrounded by elaborate gardens.