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Visiting Quinlan Castle in Birmingham, Alabama

Quinlan Castle, Birmingham, Alabama

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

Quinlan Castle, Birmingham, Alabama

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.

Castle Count: 25

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!

Read next: Vulcan, the Original Iron Man in Birmingham, Alabama

Ready to visit Quinlan Castle in Birmingham, Alabama? Plan your trip with these tips.



Visiting Quinlan Castle in Birmingham, Alabama

Were you able to see Quinlan Castle in Birmingham, Alabama before its destruction? Tell me in the comments!

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  1. I stayed in The Royal Arms in about 1950, with my mother and father…. I was a very young child and I remember the building and the room clearly. I will always remember it.

  2. I lived there in a studio apartment around 1988 . I was working with a crew doing renovations on the building . I remember going on the roof and hanging out in the turrets while tripping on acid.The courtyard was kind of cool too.. If you walked in the gate on the right,my apartment would have been second next to the end where the gate was . It was small one room deal with a little kitchen and bathroom .

    1. It really is a shame. I wish they would find a way to keep the exterior or at least reproduce some of the design elements in their new building. Instead, beautiful and interesting architecture is being replaced by another boring old building.

  3. I lived at the Castle in 1983 til 1984 with my babygirl she and I spent many of days in the courtyard..I have always loved going by there when I have Dr. Appointments in Birmingham.

  4. Wow! I find it quite interesting that the old Quinlan Castle has made it into cyberspace on a blog. As a native of Birmingham and a frequent visitor to the city’s Southside and UAB district, I saw it almost daily when I lived in the city full-time. You’ll be surprised to know that many people don’t know of its existence. Thanks for sharing a piece of my hometown. Hopefully, this will move some of your followers to visit the Magic City.

    1. I hope so, too! I really need to get back and explore Birmingham more myself. I would love for something to be done with Quinlan Castle, it’s such a beautiful building and more people deserve to know about it!

    2. I lived in the castle in 1983. It was a apartment complex called Royal Arms. I was 19 years old. It was a fun and crazy time of my life. I own 2 condo’s on Highland Ave now. If the castle was remodeled and made into new apts, I would rent both condos and get a apt in the castle.

  5. And I didn’t know the US had any castles. Proof you don’t need to go to Europe for them.

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