Photo courtesy of the Monte D’ Oro Neighborhood Association.
0614 Monte D'Oro
The Norris family stand in front of a Monte D’Oro neighborhood sign welcoming a new addition to the family. The neighborhood will celebrate its 50th anniversary in July.
Well-loved neighborhoods don’t happen by accident. Just ask Eileen Lewis, co-chair of the Monte D’Oro 50th anniversary committee and a homeowner in the community for the past 22 years.
“Hoover is getting older,” said Lewis, who grew up in Avondale and has followed that area’s evolution with interest. “If we want our community to prosper in the future, that goes hand in hand with maintaining our neighborhoods and making sure these areas don’t fall into decline.”
Lewis’s co-chair, Susanne Wright, agrees.
“We are working closely with the city of Hoover and the Hoover Historical Society not only to mark the occasion of our 50th anniversary, but also to encourage other neighborhoods in Hoover to preserve themselves.”
Wright, who grew up in the Roebuck area, is walking her talk. She purchased her first home in Monte D’Oro in 1973, and returned after a job transfer brought her back to Birmingham from Huntsville. Over the course of the past four decades, Wright has lived in three different properties within Monte D’Oro, and she’s renovated every one.
The 158-home community will officially achieve golden anniversary status on July 24 this year. Celebrations will be held July 27, with festivities planned for 2-4 p.m. in the pavilion area of Aldridge Gardens. Fifties band The Kool Kats will perform for guests and cake and ice cream will be served. The event is open to all Monte D’Oro residents — both current and former — as well as invitees from the Monte D’Oro Neighborhood Association.
This past spring, the neighborhood was honored by the Hoover Historical Society, which selected the development as the site of its 2014 annual Membership Tea. The Society has hosted its annual tea for the past 30 years. Prior locations of distinction have included the Randle Home, the Overseer’s House and the Hale-Joseph Home, where the daughter of George Wallace once lived. More recently, the tea has taken place in the home of local real estate agent and musician James Harwell.
“This is the first time we’ve come this far down the mountain for one of our membership drives,” said Hoover Historical Society President Inez McCollum, adding that she was delighted to help highlight one of the city’s most dedicated neighborhood communities.
Prior to the tea, held on April 27, McCollum, along with other civic leaders from the area, formally dedicated the historical marker, which stands at the corner of Monte D’Oro Drive and Wisteria Drive.
The marker is a symbol of the neighborhood’s past and its enduring present, with young families continuing to settle in the area and begin traditions of their own.
In 1964, Auburn University architecture graduates and friends Bill Humphries and Cordray Parker partnered together to design and build the Monte D’Oro neighborhood. Drive through the area today, and the influence of Parker, then a budding sculptor, can still be seen.
“They wanted a neighborhood where no two houses would be alike,” Lewis said. “They envisioned a place with tree-lined streets, and where all the utilities ran behind the homes.”
Indeed, the homes display different facades, from roof styles to intricate carvings and details over the windows. In Lewis’ case, these take the shape of half-moons over her windows.
With prices in the low to mid $200s and the average floor plan including upward of 2,500 square feet, as well as the community’s central access to interstates, shopping and restaurants, Monte D’Oro remains a desirable area for many young families in the Hoover area.
Wright thinks the close-knit culture of the neighborhood is what helps them stay — and in her case, kept her coming back.
“All of my friends are there,” she said, adding that many of those friendships are fostered by neighborhood association activities. These include everything from regularly scheduled social events to yard signs and welcome packages for families new to the neighborhood and those welcoming new babies. For Wright, the neighborhood’s historical roots and the city leaders it has helped cultivate are an added bonus.
“Mayor Ivey speaks to our neighborhood association once a year, which I think is tremendous,” she said. “And many of our neighbors are active on various boards for the city of Hoover. We are an active, engaged community, and I think as long as that continues, we will continue to thrive.”
If readers have any ties to the Monte D’Oro neighborhood and wish to learn more about the 50th anniversary festivities, they are encouraged to contact event co-chairs Eileen Lewis, firstname.lastname@example.org, or Susanne Wright, email@example.com.