Thomas Walter III

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Thomas Ustick Walter III (born January 24, 1864 in Norfolk, Virginia; died 1931 in Virginia) was an architect practicing in Birmingham from the late 1890s to the 1910s.

Walter was the grandson of the eminent architect Thomas Ustick Walter (1804–1887), designer of the U. S. capitol dome and second president of the American Institute of Architects. He was the son of engineer and photographer Thomas Walter (1833–1906) and the former Laura Ashby of Norfolk, Virginia. He followed his grandfather's career and designed several buildings in Virginia and around the South in the late 19th century.

Walter came to Birmingham in the late 1890s and undertook his first major commission, for St Vincent's Hospital, almost immediately. He opened an office as Thomas U. Walter & Co. Architects on the 4th floor of the Chalifoux Building. He provided several designs for Edward Cullom's Cullom Place development. Soon he was collaborating with landscape architect Samuel Parsons on the design for Glen Iris Park and was the architect of Robert Jemison Sr's residence there. He then joined Jemison as a partner in the Glenview Realty Company.

By 1904 Walter had moved his offices to the Berney Bank Building at 1923 1st Avenue North. Around 1905 he designed a home for himself on Cliff Road in Jemison's Mountain Terrace subdivision. He agreed to trade that home with Mrs Hill Ferguson in 1908, moving to her former home at 1213 21st Street South.

By then Walter had largely given up architectural design in favor of real estate development. He acted as sales agent for Mountain Terrace as an employee of the Jemison Company. He and appraiser Jerome Tucker derived the "Tucker-Walter Rule" used to determine the depth of residential lots on Birmingham's hillsides. Walter is also credited with establishing the limits of downtown Birmingham as the area between 13th and 26th Streets and between 8th Avenue North and 8th Avenue South.

Short on money, Walter borrowed a sum from fellow architect David O. Whilldin, secured by his grandfather's drawings of the U.S. Capitol dome. When Walter was unable to repay the loan, Whilldin accepted the drawings, later donating them to the Birmingham Museum of Art.

Walter died in Virginia in 1931, leaving a daughter, Agnes.

Notable projects


  • Burkhardt, Ann McQuorquodale and Alice Meriwether Bowsher (November 1982) "Town Within a City: The Five Points South Neighborhood 1880-1930." Journal of the Birmingham Historical Society. Vol. 7, Nos. 3-4
  • Satterfield, Carolyn Green (1985) Historic Sites of Jefferson County, Alabama. revised edition. Birmingham: Jefferson County Historical Commission/Gray Printing Company
  • "T. U. Walter" in the Hill Ferguson Papers, quoted in Browne, Catherine Greene (1992) The History of Forest Park. Birmingham: Cather Publishing Company