By Emily Williams
October marked the 70th anniversary of the city of Vestavia Hills.
Incorporation of the city was final on Oct. 24, 1950. There were a total of 96 voters, 88 of which approved the measure to make Vestavia Hills its own city.
In the book “Vestavia Hills, A Place Apart,” author Marvin Whiting recounts Vestavia Hills’ history, beginning simply as a densely wooded valley situated between Shades and Red mountains.
It wasn’t until the late 1920s that people began building homes in what would become Vestavia. During the time of incorporation, he notes that there were approximately 600 residents in the area.
In a letter to the community, Mayor Ashley Curry recounts a bit of this history, as well as the progress that has been made over the years.
Today, the city is home to more than 35,000.
“This growth is not surprising in light of the quality of life that we enjoy,” said Curry, who has called the community home for more than 30 years.
The Vestavia Hills School System, which recently celebrated its 50th anniversary, was formed in 1970 and continues to grow; the Liberty Park community joined the city in 1992; and the city gained Cahaba Heights in 2002.
A city is not simply its quality of life, but its people, as well.
City manager Jeff Downes in words to the community highlighted the people who have contributed to maintaining the “Life Above” quality that city officials seek to provide.
“Thanks to Charles Byrd and his family, who first envisioned a city of ‘at least a thousand residents’ and invested in a residential development that would ‘tame the wilds’ of Shades Mountain and later invested in the first shopping center in Vestavia Hills,” Downes said.
The city’s first mayor, Verner L. Adams, contributed greatly to the city’s growth, as did its second mayor, Robert Guillot. Guillot, Downes noted, focused on enhancing quality of life. Under his administration, parks were created, a library was built, a focus was placed on public safety services and the educational system that became Vestavia Hills City Schools emerged.
Mayors Sara Wuska and C. Pat Reynolds laid the foundation for the city’s continued focus on offering senior services to its residents and secured the annexation of Liberty Park.
After retiring from his career as president of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Mayor Scotty McCallum led the city for two terms, a highlight of which was the annexation of Cahaba Heights.
He was succeeded by his assistant, Mayor Butch Zaragoza, who, Downes noted, “streamlined governmental services while enhancing certain opportunities for the convenience of its residents.
“I would be remiss not to mention his selfless act of promoting a new form of government, as well, that led to the creation of the position I currently hold,” Downes said.
Each mayor was supported by many other individuals to carry out the life above mission.
“Mayor Ashley Curry and the current council continue to carry on the work of these fine individuals and should also be thanked for their tireless efforts,” Downes added. “The giving people of our community and its leaders should be proud.”