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Lecture series to explore past and present of city

The Birmingham Museum and Baldwin Public Library are sponsoring a joint three-part lecture series that explore Birmingham's uniqueness through the history of its neighborhoods, its downtown, the icon of past Birmingham shopping experiences, Jacobson's Department Store, with the first lecture on Thursday, March 14, at 7 p.m. at Baldwin Public Library.

The lecture series, “Birmingham: What was and what is,” will begin with a lecture on “Jacobson's: The Birmingham Department Store,” by department store historian Bruce Kopytec, author of the popular 2012 book, “Jacobson's: I Miss It So!” The lecture will take participants back to when the Birmingham shopping experience centered on the one and only “Jake's.”

“People love to remember ‘Jake’s.’ I look forward to sharing the history of the store and why it was so important to Birmingham,” said Kopytec, who has also written books on other notable department stores. He has also created an online historical exhibit featuring stores such as Hudson's, Crowley's, Marshall Fields, Lord & Taylor, and others.

A number of Jacobson's artifacts have been donated to the Birmingham Museum, Museum Director Leslie Pielack said, including catalogs, ads, photos and other memorabilia. “We are so excited to be the recipient of these artifacts,” Pielack said.“It is through the preservation of the physical objects that we can elicit those all-important memories that made Jacobson’s so special.”

The second of the three lectures will take place on Thursday, April 11, with local historians Pam DeWeese and George Getschman presenting “Birmingham Neighborhoods and Their Stories,” at Baldwin Library at 7 p.m.

Their talk will highlight some of the city's unique neighborhoods and their histories, from Birmingham Villas to Eco City to Quarton Lake Estates.

The final series presentation will take place on Thursday, May 9, when Pielack will be joined by Birmingham Shopping District (BSD) Executive Director Ingrid Tighe in a conversation of Birmingham's unique character in “Downtown, Then and Now.” They will discuss the roots of Birmingham's downtown, and what has made it special through the years, as well as what is happening now, and where downtown Birmingham is headed in the future.

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