Historic Markers Across Alabama

Sibyl Temple

Marker ID: ABT 
Location: at the intersection of Montgomery Highway (U.S. 31) and Shades Crest Road, Vestavia Hills, Alabama
County: Jefferson
Coordinates: N 33° 27.332    W 086° 47.219
  33.45553333    -86.78698333
Style: Free Standing **
Waymark: WMCPCC


Side 1:
Sibyl Temple was moved to this site from its original location in 1975. George Ward built it on the brow of his 20-acre mountaintop"Vestavia” estate in 1929. It marked the entrance to the lower 10 acres where he planned a wildflower and bird sanctuary. Mr. Ward modeled his"Temple of the Sibyl” gazebo after the hilltop temple in Tivoli, Italy. It was constructed of red-hued sandstone quarried in the area. He intended Sibyl Temple to be the monument to his resting place, desiring to be buried in the cave beneath; but, in 1940 when Mr. Ward died, he was buried in Elmwood Cemetery. In 1947, Charles Byrd bought Vestavia estate, after which he painted Sibyl Temple white. In 1958, Vestavia Hills Baptist Church purchased the property from Mr. Byrd. Later When the church built a new sanctuary, the gazebo was incompatible with the architecture. The Church gave Sibyl Temple to Vestavia Hills Garden Club on November 15, 1972.

Side 2:
In 1973, the Alabama Department of Transportation granted permission to place the temple in the roadside park on Montgomery Highway. The arduous move began. Disassembling and relocating the gazebo was a monumental achievement masterminded by Bill Harbert working with resources and personnel of Harbert Construction Corporation. The eight solid concrete columns with steel rods embedded in foundation and dome were singularly removed from the overall 88-ton structure and remade to exact measurements. the 63-ton dome proved too heavy to be lifted onto the columns repositioned on this site, necessitating their removal, building a structure of H beams, placing the one on top and then setting each column in place again. On April 8, 1975, the Garden Club held a dedication ceremony. Many professionals, businesses and friends assisted with landscaping and beautification.

In 1985, Sibyl Temple was listed on the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage, Sibyl Temple Foundation, an incorporated entity of Vestavia Hills Garden Club, and the City of Vestavia Hill maintain the Temple and gardens.

Erected 2010 by Alabama Tourism Department and the City of Vestavia Hills.

End of Sibyl Temple