Temple of Sybil.

Temple of Sibyl

Field review by the editors.

Vestavia Hills, Alabama

The temple was built by George Ward, an ex-mayor of Birmingham and a lifelong bachelor known for his toga-clad garden parties. He was so enamored of classical architecture that he built his home as if it were a Roman temple. That was in 1925. Four years later he built the small Temple of Sibyl on a hilltop of his estate, Vestivia. He wanted it to be his headstone, and be buried in a cave beneath it.

Ward died in 1940. His wishes went unheeded, and he was buried in a boring cemetery. His temple house was destroyed and replaced by a Baptist church. Vestivia was subdivided into house lots. All that remained was the Temple of Sibyl. All 88 tons of it was moved two miles to its present hilltop in 1975.

Temple of Sybil.

Although the Temple stands alongside busy US 31, it's high enough above the road to seem bucolic. We imagine that it's a popular spot for wedding ceremonies, and that Ward would appreciate its new rest rooms, which have also been decorated to resemble a Roman temple.

Update: Beginning in 2014 the easily visible Temple has a job: it's lit blue at night when someone dies in a Birmingham-area traffic accident. The uniquely regional glow-at-night-when-someone-dies role was played until 1999 by Birmingham's Vulcan the Iron Man.

Temple of Sibyl

Temple of Sibyl

Address:
Valley View Rd., Vestavia Hills, AL
Directions:
On the southbound side of US 31/Montgomery Hwy just north of its intersection with Shades Creek Rd/County Rd 97. Only accessible southbound. As you reach the top of the hill, the turnoff for the temple will be on the right.
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November 23, 2014

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