Quinlan Castle sat quietly in the middle of Downtown Birmingham, Alabama, an architectural oddity in the industrial city. This castle was demolished in 2022, but you can still read about its history and see photos of this unique building below.
Quinlan Castle History
Two U-shaped halves connected by arched gateways make up this urban castle. Quinlan Castle stands four stories tall clad in a sandstone exterior. The roof line is topped with battlements and adorned with round turrets at the corners. You can even see canons pointing out from the turrets.
The castle was built as an apartment complex in 1927 by two doctors who had been inspired by the castles they saw in Europe in World War 1. The complex contained 72 apartments.
The castle was rumored to be the Birmingham headquarters for the Communist Party. One of the party leaders lived there, but when the Birmingham Police raided the building in 1940 they didn’t find anything of interest.
The castle was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1984. While the city owned the castle, they cleaned the exterior, added new landscaping and signage, and renovated the apartments as affordable housing. But the castle still sat vacant since the 1990s.
The Future of Quinlan Castle
There have been various proposals for what to do with the castle. Ideas ranged from turning the complex into luxury apartments, converting it into student housing for UAB students, and demolishing the castle for additional parking for the Southern Research Institute (SRI).
In 2008, SRI bought the castle for $400,000. They stabilized the roof and façade, replaced exterior windows and fences, and cleaned the courtyards.
In 2021, SRI, whose offices surround the castle, announced plans to level the castle and replace it with modern research labs for the Center for Pandemic Resilience. An assessment of the castle’s condition found that the structural beams, columns, floors, walls, stairwells, and roof were corroded and there were remnants of lead and asbestos. The building was deemed unusable and was demolished on January 7, 2022.
Perhaps if the company hadn’t left the building abandoned for 13 years, Birmingham would get to keep this striking and unique addition to its skyline.
Visiting Quinlan Castle
Unfortunately, you can no longer visit Quinlan Castle, which sat at the corner of 9th Ave S. and Richard Arrington Blvd S. The building was torn down on January 7, 2022.
So why does this castle count? Like the castles of the 18th century, Quinlan Castle was a place of residence rather than a fortification. And if the castle ever needed to be fortified, the roof was an excellent place for concealing canons. This castle even had the coat of arms of the O’Caoindealbain family.
And then there are the claims from a 1929 advertisement that said the design of the castle was based the actual plans of a medieval English castle. Good enough for me!
Ready to visit Quinlan Castle in Birmingham, Alabama? Plan your trip with these tips.
- Book your flight: Find the cheapest flights using Skyscanner, my favorite flight search engine.
- Find accommodation: You can find top hotels in Birmingham using Hotels.com.
- Get packing: Make sure you’ve packed everything you need with my packing list resources.
Were you able to see Quinlan Castle in Birmingham, Alabama before its destruction? Tell me in the comments!