Hunting for abandoned places in Alabama? You’re in the right place. Below are 17 of my favorite abandoned places throughout the state.
Abandoned Places In Alabama
1. Winter Place
Winter Place is the name of two old conjoined homes that date back to the mid-1850s. Each home has it’s own unique style which makes it stand out amid the modern homes we see today. The first home was built in an Italianate style while the second was designed around the Second Empire styling.
The homes have been slowly eroding away but thankfully people took notice. In 2004 the property was recognized as being endangered and was finally added to the National Register of Historic Places in 06. Sadly, this designation doesn’t always mean the property will get the funding it needs.
Winter Place is an architectural rarity and a must-see for any lover of 19th-century style homes. There has been talk of raising the funds to restore the home, so if you’d like to capture it in its current state of decay, I’d act quick!
2. Town of Spectre
The Town of Spectre might be designed for fiction, but it’s very much a real abandoned place you can explore. The town was made famous for its scene in the 2003 film Big Fish where the lead character would return to his town as an adult, only to find it abandoned and in ruins. Spectre was built for the movie on a private island, and subsequently abandoned when the filming was done.
While fire and flooding have destroyed some structures over the years, there’s still plenty to see in this picturesque ghost town. There are tons of vacant homes, props, and even giant plastic trees left behind when this place was a film set.
As of recently, you can now cross over to the island for a $3 fee and even camp there legally. Specter is definitely one of the best legal abandoned places you can visit in Alabama which is why it’s #2 on our list.
3. Old Rock Jail
The Coosa County Jail (AKA Old Rock Jail) was designed to contain the most slipper of criminals back in the early 1800s. The hardy three-story jail was made with locally sourced stones with blocks as thick as three feet. It really makes you wonder who they thought was going to try and escape.
The building stayed in use until 1938 and never had a single escapee. In 1973 the county’s historical society took ownership of the building.
If you’re a history buff, or just love old buildings, this is a great place to stop if you’re nearby. More seasoned explorers might want to skip out on this one if they’re chasing down grime and decay.
4. Norwood, Alabama
The neighborhood of Norwood sits just north of Birmingham and is chuck full of abandoned and decay homes from the late 1800s. From 1870 to the early 1900s millions of people flooded into cities from rural farms for better opportunities and their shot at the American dream.
All of this hype and opportunity caused crowding, which drove a lot of Birmingham’s more affluent citizens out of town into quieter neighborhoods, like Norwood. Norwood was a place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and live among other upper-class families.
The town of Norwood started to decline as the automobile allowed wealthy families to move to even more remote areas outside of town. Public transportation made Norwood more accessible, and therefore more economically diverse. With time the vacant mansions started to decay and property values started to decline.
There are dozens of abandoned comes throughout the neighborhood and surrounding area. Simply pick a street and drive it. Like many abandoned places in Alabama, Noordwood is rich in history and culture. This has attracted a second wave of citizens who want to restore this town to its glory days. If you want to check this place out, check it out soon.
5. Pratt Cotton Gin Factory
The Prattville Gin factory is one of the few surviving abandoned places in Alabama that date back to the early 1830s. It was one of the largest and most important cotton mills in all of the south. The three-story building could produce thousands of barrels of gin each year.
Daniel Pratt would make it his mission to make gin no matter what. He continued his operation throughout the entire Civil War and even provided the Confederate army with uniforms from his factory. Pratt stayed in the Gin business until he died 1873 as the south’s first millionaire.
Despite its age the factory is in good condition. The last owner of the factory vacated in 2014 and the property was set to auction. While there have been some interested bidders, no confirmed sales have been completed.
The massive factory is a truly unique piece of Alabama history and I’d recommend checking this place off your list before it’s refurbished or lost with time.
6. Dicksonia Plantation
The Dicksonia is an old plantation home from the 1830s that just refuses to die. Throughout its history, the plantation was nearly destroyed by fire twice, but rebuilt each time. The home’s massive pillars and Greek Revival style make it stand out from other plantations of its time.
In 1901 the home and the 400 acres it sits on was sold to Robert Dickson, who named the estate Dicksonia. Which is a pretty ridiculous name in my opinion.
Today the property is privately owned and restoration efforts are underway. Urban explorers might be interested in checking it out before restoration, but history buffs might not mind seeing the old mansion restored to it’s former glory.
7. Old Bryce Hospital
Dating back to 1861, Bryce Hospital is the oldest and largest physiatric facility in the state. Of all the mental institutions across the country, Bryce Hospital was among the most progressive and cutting edge. Peter Bryce ensured that all patients were treated with respect and that the use of restraints like straight jackets and shackles be only used if absolutely necessary.
During the 20th century, the demand for mental health services boomed. In 1970 Alabama had called from its glory days and ranked last in funding for mental health. Journalists who got access to Bryce Hospital said conditions inside felt like a “concentration camp” with a swelling population of around 5,200 patients.
In 1970 a previously incarcerated boy (who didn’t have any mental illness) sued the hospital. This case drug on for 33 years and cost $15 million in litigation expense. This ultimately led to Alabama implementing minimum standards for mental health institutions.
Bryce is a must for any urban explorer. There are dozens of rooms and tons of history within. Many people that Bryce hospital is one of the most haunted abandoned places in Alabama. If you believe in that sort of thing.
8. Chalkville Training School for Girls
This school was built in 1909 for troubled girls, but despite the school’s good intentions, it was plagued with abuse and corruption. Chalkville School for Girls was supposed to be a reform school that would teach young girls how to cope with their emotions and learn skills that would help them as an adult.
Over the years, underfunding and overcrowding made the school hell for some of the girls. Alligations of sexual assault and abuse would come to light in the late 90s and early 2000s. As these stories broke, the school suspended nearly all of its staff and hired a new school admin.
This however wasn’t enough. Numerous lawsuits have been filed over the years from girls who suffered abuse at the hands of staff. In 2007, 49 victims won a $12.5 million settlement against the school. Fittingly, the school was smited by an EF3 tornado in 2012 destroying 11 campus buildings.
Today the buildings have been deemed structurally unstable and are off-limits to the public. Despite the destruction, there is still a lot to see. Many of the cells are still intact and the school is worth the trip even tho many of the walls are covered in tasteless grafitti.
9. Memorial Mound Funeral Home
Memorial Mound is one of the more unique abandoned places in Alabama in terms of its history and design. Memorial Mound was built when a gravedigger and engineer teamed up to create a new and better burial technique for the dead.
Clyde Booth was in love with ancient architecture and began studying burial mounds and Roman catacombs during the late 60s as a part of his research. In 1990 Booth got to work, and began transforming his newly purchased land into an underground mausoleum like no other.
Inside caskets could be placed up on shelves in separate underground wings of the tomb. A computer inside would allow visitors to view photos and leave messages for their loved ones. This businesses model however was short-lived, and in 1996 the Mound Closed it’s doors after serving less than a dozen bodies.
Booth adamantly believed his failure was due to a conspiracy by local funeral homes who undermined his business. After his death in 2009, the mound was abandoned and vandals destroyed much of what Booth worked towards building.
The remains inside the caskets were not sealed. As vandals broke in, photos of neglected remains surfaced on the internet, forcing local law enforcement to remove the remains of seven adults and one infant. After the bodies were removed authorities sealed the tomb shut.
Memorial Mound is a place I think all explorers should check out. While the bodies have now been removed, the tomb is still a fascinating place littered with empty caskets that resembles a modern-day ancient tomb.
10. Wards Funeral Home
Wards Funeral home is an amazing piece of architecture dating back to 1870. It was the home of a prestigious local doctor and his wife. Dr. Eugene Lindsey was an African American physician who owned his own Lindsey’s Drugstore and Soda Fountain in town. This store was one of the few places other black residents could sit and feel welcomed while waiting for their prescriptions to be filled.
The home was later turned into a funeral home. Today, the funeral home is still owned by the Wards.
The home sits in an eerie state of decay with its crumbling white pillars towering over the front steps. It’s truly a beautiful piece of history that is sadly in danger from the elements, as well as locals who are pushing to get the home torn down.
11. Searcy Hospital
Established in 1900, Searcy Hospital was a mental health facility designed to help relive the overcrowding at the nearby Bryce Hospital you just read about. The facility was initially called Mount Vernon Hospital for the Colored Insane as it exclusively only served African Americans until 1969.
In 1906 a mysterious illness swept through the hospital taking the lives of 57 patients. It was later determined this one was of the first outbreaks of pellagra in the United States. Eventually, the cause for the disease was traced back to vitamin deficiency in its patients from a poor hospital food diet.
In 2012 on Halloween day, the hospital shut its doors for good.
Searcy Hospital resembles a castle and is a part of a much larger compound of abandoned buildings that are closely guarded. This property is one of the more difficult abandoned places in Alabama to reach.
12. Shelby Chemical Company
The Shelby Chemical Company only operated for a few years during the early 1900s. It sat right across from the Shelby Ironworks Plant that helped forge weapons during the Civil War.
Today the skeletal remains of the plant are all the remains. Despite so little being left, the structure is quite interesting and fun to shoot in the fall or spring when its beams are overgrown. This location is one of the easier abandoned places in Alabama to explore, making it a good spot for novice explorers.
13. Tuscaloosa Capitol Ruins
From 1826 until 1846 the town of Tuscaloosa served as the state capital. The capital building was an architectural wonder of its time, towering high above the quaint cobblestone streets. The building’s life however was shortlived when the government decided to relocate in 1846.
The building was leased to a local college for women when the government moved out. Sadly, the building caught fire during construction in 1923. The damage was so extensive that very little could be saved. Salvaged brick was used to make some of the local homes in and around Tuscaloosa.
The site is now a public park where you can learn and experience a bit of Alabama’s earliest history.
The ruins are in a local park making this a great place for anyone to explore. It’s one of the few legal abandoned places in Alabama that are worth visiting in my option. While it might not be worth a cross-country road trip, if you’re in the area its a cool place to check out for an hour or so.
14. Goldthwaite Mansion
Also known as the Benjamin Walker House, this home is one of the best-preserved examples of Queen Anne-style architecture in the entire country. In the early 1900s, many wealthy families would move to this area, as the land is slightly elevated and offers beautiful views over the river.
Throughout the 50s and 60s the area declined and many families opted to move someplace more rural. Many buildings were torn down and the area was zoned for industrial warehousing nearby, which further decreased the property value.
Today many of the homes along Goldthwaite, Perry, and Court are endangered and in need of restoration. Simply drive around for a few minutes and you’re bound to find some hidden gems and older decaying homes along the river.
15. Cahawba Ghost Town
The ghost town of Cahawba briefly served as the state’s capital 1819 to 1826. Before the Civil War, the small collection of buildings quickly grew to a booming antebellum river town. The town was also known to attract emancipated African Americans seeking a new life. The town was abandoned during the Civil War with many of the buildings lost to fire and decay by 1870.
Today many of the old brick ruins and still be found poking through the thick woodlands along the riverbank. The area is vital for archeologists and historians looking to learn more about early American history. Cahawba is one of the more popular ghost towns in Alabama and is a casual place to explore for new and seasoned explorers alike.
16. City Federal
The City Federal building is one of Birmingham’s most iconic structures, but few know that many of its floors are completely abandoned. The skyscraper was built in 1913 and stands 27 stories high over the city. It held the record for the tallest building in the state until 1969. Nice.
The building began to lose tenants throughout the 60s. The structure was designated as a Historic Place in 1984 but was still left nearly abandoned. In the mid-90s a plan to transform the building into apartments was proposed but ultimately failed.
As the building began to crumble, it became a hazard for those below walking on the sidewalk and deemed a safety hazard. The city forced the property owners to secure the building’s roof.
While restorations are underway there is plenty of history to see inside. Outside of the office space, there is a massive bank vault in the basement of the building along with the remnants of a cold war fallout shelter inside.
17. Blakeley Ghost Town
Blakeley is a swamp ghost town on the marshes just north of Mobile. The land was inhabited long before white settlers arrived and was home to native Americans for nearly 4000 years. They used the resource-rich delta for food, shelter, and supplies.
In 1814 the area was settled by a group of white settlers and Christan convert Native Americans. As nearby settlements suffered during the Creek War throughout the early 1800s, Blakeley was spared. At once time the town was even more populated and successful than Mobile.
Unfortunately, the land that gave Blakeley life would turn against the town. Flooding and swampy conditions made life unbearable. Swamp stench and mosquitos made matters even worse. Yellow Fever which was carried by mosquitos put everyone in the town in danger. As the town’s cemetery filled up, the remaining residents fled and left everything behind.
Half submerged ruins and old mossy roads are barely visible across the ghost town. One of the most well-preserved areas in Blakeley is the cemetery, which still has the grave of everyone who parished during the Yellow Fever outbreak. Today the land is part of the historic state park, making it accessible to anyone.
Go out and explore!
That concludes our list of abandoned places in Alabama, but that doesn’t mean that’s all there is to find. Take the back roads, follow train tracks, and find some places for yourself. There are plenty of places I kept off this list so get out there and explore.