If residents of the original c. 1900s mining town of Acton, Alabama, looked into the future, would they have imagined that the area would develop into the multimillion-dollar planned community it is today? In the late 1960s, John M. Harbert III (1921–1995), founder of Harbert Corporation, saw tremendous potential for land in Acton owned by the Chace brothers. In 1974, the Harbert Corporation partnered with Equitable Life Assurance Society of the United States to form Harbert-Equitable Joint Venture, Riverchase. This plan was not a concrete jungle of homes and businesses. The venture called for a careful blending of new development with its surrounding natural landscape. This plan spoke to man’s need to be part of nature, albeit in a new and responsible way. Today, Riverchase is a picturesque community steeped in land preservation, business development, and community pride. The story of Riverchase is conveyed through the memories of its residents in Images of Modern America: Riverchase.
The community of Hoover began as a seed planted in the young mind of William Henry Hoover Sr. (1890–1979). Hoover’s father dreamed of a city for working families, and the younger Hoover used this vision as a road map to build a strong municipality that grew with business, community, and family living. Through hard work and determination, Hoover opened Employers Mutual of Alabama’s first office in Birmingham in 1922. He later founded the early town of Hoover in 1954 and in 1958 moved his company to the area that would be incorporated in 1967 as the city of Hoover. Several nearby communities are older than the city itself. Images of America: Hoover looks at Bluff Park, Shades Mountain, Rocky Ridge, Green Valley, and Patton (Patton’s) Chapel as some of the early areas where Hoover’s great story began.
The community of Bluff Park is home to a variety of residents, ranging from retirees to working families. Historically speaking, Bluff Park was first developed as a mountain resort and summer vacation site. Gardner Cole Hale bought the mountain property in the 1860s and called it Hale Springs. One of the first recorded uses of the name Bluff Park was with the Bluff Park Hotel, built in 1907. After its resort days, the area became more residential. Several of the founding families in Bluff Park settled on the mountain, building homes and farms. One such family, the Hales, ran a lumber mill, a cotton gin, and an icehouse. The Tyler family ran a large dairy farm after they moved to the area around 1888. The community school started around 1899 as a one-room schoolhouse and church, and Bluff Park Elementary is now one of the top elementary schools in the city of Hoover.