Historic Markers Across Alabama

Brookside Russian Orthodox Church / Brookside's Unique Heritage

Marker ID: ABT 
Location: at the intersection of Park Avenue and Pastor Street, Brookside, Alabama
County: Jefferson
Coordinates: N 33° 38.23    W 086° 55.132
  33.63716666    -86.91886666
Style: Free Standing **
Waymark: WME5XN


Brookside Russian Orthodox Church

Brookside's Orthodox congregation established the first Russian Orthodox Church south of the Mason-Dixon line. Over the course of ten years, the Orthodox in Brookside built three temples. A tornado destroyed the first temple which was dedicated to Saint George. The tornado's winds were so devastating that townspeople said hymnals hung from nearby trees. The second temple, dedicated to Saint Mary, burned in 1912. The present structure was built in 1916 and was dedicated to Saint Nicholas. Standard Byzantine style reflects the Eastern European roots of the church. The early congregation brought three bells and a Gospel Book from Russia and candelabras and a ceremonial knife from Kiev. Also in keeping with tradition, there are few pews, as congregants stand during service. The building was improved with exterior brick and interior paneling in the 1960s. Saint Nicholas cupola dome dominates Brookside's skyline. Regular services are still held in the small, but historically and religiously significant, temple.

Brookside's Unique Heritage

Originally settled by the Samuel and Mary"Polly” Fields family in the 1820s, Brookside enjoyed a quiet life as an agricultural community until industrialists discovered rich coal deposits here. Sloss-Sheffield Iron and Steel Company mined the area to produce its own coal for use in the blast furnaces located in Birmingham. Brookside's unique ethnic makeup, however, sets it apart from other similarly founded Alabama towns. While quite a variety of ethnic groups called Birmingham home, Slovaks were the dominant ethnic group in Brookside. Slovak immigrants left their homes in Nieletz, Saros, and other villages in the Austro-Hungarian Empire to settle in Brookside, Alabama, in the 1890s. By 1910, Slovak families constituted approximately 37% of Brookside's population. They established two churches, a school, and a social organization and firmly rooted their eastern European traditions in the fabric of Brookside's daily existence.

Erected 2010 by Alabama Tourism Department and the City of Brookside.

End of Brookside Russian Orthodox Church / Brookside's Unique Heritage