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History

A History of Monte D’Oro - A Historic Neighborhood in the City of Hoover, Alabama

Submitted By:

Eileen Lewis, Monte D’Oro Neighborhood Association


Introduction

There are 160 homes in Monte D’Oro. Streets in the subdivision are Wisteria Drive ( to what is now I 459 overpass), Monte D’Oro Drive, Monte D'Oro Circle, Monte D’Oro Way, Monte D’Este Drive, Monte D’Este Way, Monte Verde Drive and Dundale Rd.


The first sector of Monte D’Oro (Monte D’Oro Drive from Wisteria to Monte D’Oro Circle) was surveyed and approved by the Jefferson County Zoning Board on July 23, 1964. The tenth or last sector (Dundale Rd.) was approved by the Zoning Board on April 21, 1971.The last homes in the subdivision were completed during 1972 (per Jefferson County plat books). The last home to be built was 3236 Dundale Rd where original owners still reside.  Three additional homes were added to Monte D'Oro around 1998.  They are located on the north side of Wisteria Drive near the neighborhood entrance sign.


Much of the information for this history came from original owners the Logan’s, the Wilson’s, the Thompson’s, and the Foster’s.  Thanks to the Hope family for information and encouragement.

 

The Developer

The subdivision was built by developer William H. “Bill” Humphries. Mr. Humphries’ father, also a developer, had built Gentilly Forest subdivision off of Old Montgomery Highway in Vestavia Hills. Bill Humphries attended Auburn University School of Architecture. Bill Humphries also built Talheim (off Rocky Ridge Rd.) and then Chandalar in Pelham. He also developed a couple of mobile home parks. Jane and Hilton Logan were friends of the Humphries family and said he guaranteed the workmanship in his homes. Once he got a contract the homes went up fairly quickly as he had a team of faithful sub contractors, who, if they did quality work, were guaranteed jobs on a steady basis. Mr. Humphries looked for a property that would not only be profitable but would be suitable to build the kind of home he wanted to build. He wanted the homes to be distinctive with no two alike. 

 

The Designer   

Mr. Humphries hired Cordray “Corky” Parker to help design and decorate the homes in Monte D’Oro. Mr. Parker was also a well known artist having studied in Italy and Austria. His sculpture is on display at Birmingham Botanical Gardens, Birmingham Museum of Art, St. Mary’s on the Highlands, Children’s Hospital and UAB. Mr. Parker was also an architect who attended Auburn University.

 

Mountain of Gold

Monte D’Oro is Italian for mountain of gold. It is speculated that the naming of the subdivision was influenced by Mr. Parker who spent much time in Italy and Mr. Humphries’ mother who traveled there. Street names include Monte Verde or green mountain and Monte D’ Este or mountain of the east.

 

The Beginnings  

3200 Monte D’Oro Drive served as the office for Humphries Construction. As mentioned before, when there was a contract, homes went up quickly. The home at 3209 Monte D’Oro Drive was the third house built in the subdivision and was built in around three weeks. The first owners moved in September 1964. This home has some beautiful cedar tongue and groove boards in the cathedral ceiling. One of the first homes built was 3201 Monte D’Oro Drive. It was the “spec” home. The original owners still live there. The first paving was on Monte D’Oro Drive from Wisteria to Monte D’Oro Circle. The rest was wooded.

Viva Chumbler was the realty agent. One original owner purchased their home in 1965 for $27,500 at 4 1/2% interest with a $157 per month mortgage payment.


Mr. Humphries did not want poles in front of the houses therefore there was a right of way in the rear of the homes dedicated to power and telephone poles. Most homes are split or tri-level and many have deep grained or “pecky” cypress paneling. Many have the Mansard roof, named for the French architect Louis Mansard. The nearest grocery store or drug store was in Bluff Park or Vestavia. The city of Hoover was not incorporated at that time. Where Hoover Tactical (formerly Bruno’s grocery store) sits between Lorna Rd. and Hwy. 31, there was an old home in thick woods which belonged to a man named Carey Jackson. Later there was a trailer park there prior to Bruno’s.


Mr. Humphries built his personal home on Wisteria Drive. He later moved to 3325 Monte D’Oro Drive. Mr. Humphries finally moved to Florida and died there in the late 1990’s.

Cordray Parker continued to live in Hoover until his death in September 2007.

 

A Sense of Community     

There has always been a close sense of community among Monte D’Oro residents. According to the Wilson’s, between 1970 and 1985 there must have been easily 100 children in similar age ranges who played together. The cul de sac at Monte D’Oro Drive was filled with children’s voices and games. Neighbors continue to support activities that help keep Monte D’Oro safe and beautiful and not to mention fun

The entrance signs and street signs were erected and are maintained by the Monte D’Oro Neighborhood Association. Neighbors also support one another in time of grief and illness. We sponsor activities which promote beautification and pride in personal property.  We socialize through meetings, ice cream socials and a Christmas party. We maintain strong ties with the city of Hoover government for mutual support and service. With no covenants to protect the neighborhood, we encourage beautification and communication and discourage anything that would detract from property values.. We also keep informed of zoning issues so that we can keep a family friendly environment. The neighbors have also stood strong if threatened. One such time was when many apartment units were proposed along Boxwood Ct. which borders the western edge of the neighborhood. Neighbors successfully negotiated for homes to be built instead of apartments. We also prevented a strip shopping center along Wisteria Drive which would have housed a pawn shop.

 

Monte de Fleurs Garden Club, Monte D’Oro Planters, Monte D’Oro Women’s Club and Monte D’Oro Neighborhood Association

The Monte de Fleur Garden Club was established by the ladies of Monte D’Oro on Nov. 10, 1971. Garden activities, beautification and neighborhood socials were the focus. This group met during the daytime. The Monte D’Oro Planters was formed about the same time. It met at night so everyone could suit their schedule. Both were affiliated with Federated Garden Clubs. They both existed side by side for several years. Later the Monte de Fleur Garden Club became the Monte D’Oro Women’s Club and eventually the Monte D’Oro Neighborhood Association. Federated club status had become complicated. The group also wanted more varied programs and wider participation. Membership in the Association is voluntary. The Association today sponsors social activities, informative programs and promotes the wellbeing of the neighborhood. Meetings are held on the second Thursday evening of each month from September through May. Minutes and notes that have been kept since the beginning of these units are maintained by the President of the Monte D’Oro Neighborhood Association.


[View the first scrapbook from the Monte de Fleurs Garden Club]


The Trees

The mature trees in Monte D’Oro are one of the neighborhoods best features, although it may not seem to be the best feature in the fall, when raking the vast amount of leaves. The trees are tall and old and overlap shady streets. Spring and autumn are almost magical. Residents are encouraged to maintain and replace trees on their property for all to enjoy. Neighbors also participate in the Hoover Memorial Tree Program. Several memorial trees have been placed in Georgetown Lake Park in remembrance of friends and family. Most residents agree that Monte D’Oro is, and always has been, a good place for families because of its quality homes, beautiful streets, convenient location and friendly, involved neighbors.


Historical Neighborhood

In 2014 the Hoover Historical Society erected a historical marker at the entrance of the Monte D'Oro neighborhood. The dedication ceremony and ribbon cutting with Mayor Gary Ivey occured April 27 at 1:45 p.m. followed by a tea with the Hoover Historical Society at the home of Michael and Eileen Lewis at 3224 Dundale Road from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.