February 23, 2011
Hidden Gems: James Middleton Sizemore Chandeliers
The five chandeliers which hang elegantly in the grand foyer of the Leslie Stephen Wright Fine Arts Center, the largest of which is made of hand-cut Czechoslovakian crystal, boast of a long history that predates their time at Samford.
Now characteristic furbelows on campus, these chandeliers hung for more than 40 years in downtown Birmingham’s historic Temple Theater. When the theater was shut down, the university procured them for the 1976 grand opening of the Wright Center.
Billy Gamble, who was the superintendent of the university’s physical plant when the chandeliers were acquired, remembers traveling with a crew to the theater and beginning the arduous process of cleaning and re-hanging them.
“They were a dusty, grimy mess after hanging in a vacant building for several years,” Gamble said. “All of the crystal attachments had to be removed, but that was after the campus photographer, Lew Arnold, recorded the configuration of assembly for future re-assembly while the chandeliers were still hanging.”
The chandeliers were presented to Samford by Mrs. Williams Thuss and the late Dr. Thuss in memory of their friend and Samford alumnus James M. Sizemore. Sizemore received his bachelor of science degree from Howard College in 1929. Years later he was active in many civic, cultural and service organizations.
Sizemore’s wife, Margaret, was dean of women and a foreign languages instructor for many years. She was instrumental in obtaining the chandeliers for Samford.
Editor’s note: This is one in a recurring series on “hidden gems” on the Samford University campus. Matthew Roberts is a senior journalism major from Vestavia Hills, Ala., and a student writer in the office of marketing and communication.