By KATHRYN ACREE
Today Heardmont, or as it’s officially named, The Park at Heardmont Farm, welcomes kids playing in its ball fields or along its creek beds and football, soccer and cross country teams from around the state. But longtime residents may remember the park was once Heardmont Farm. Like many park and recreation venues, you might think
there is an ancient Mr. or Mrs. Heardmont somewhere in Alabama’s past, but this is not the case.
Heardmont owes its name to Stephen Heard, the first governor of Georgia named in 1781. Heard’s fourth great-grandson, Howard Perdue, Jr., born in 1912, was a well-known Birmingham trial lawyer.
Perdue purchased the Alabama farmland along Cahaba Valley Road in 1966 from Morgan Denson. Perdue’s mother, Annie McCalla Perdue, died not long after her son purchased the property. She’d lived on Heardmont Plantation in Elbert County, Ga., and he named the property Heardmont Farm in memory of her and the Heard family. Governor Heard, a Revolutionary War hero, is buried in a family cemetery on the family’s property in Elbert County, Ga.
Nancy Perdue Boone of Vestavia Hills is Howard Perdue, Jr.’s only child. She fondly recalls the farm her father purchased as a get-away for the family.
“He built a small house on the property, and we would pack a lunch and drive out there on weekends from our home in town,” said Boone. “It was a beautiful, peaceful property, and I remember my father working hard to clear the land.”
In the 1970s, Perdue raised Polled Hereford cattle on the farm. “I remember the first calf being born on the farm,” Boone said. “My dad made sure he was there to help with the delivery, and he was so proud.”
Perdue often walked the property with his dogs. “He would take the dogs down to the creek to cool off,” Boone said. “He loved that land, loved to be there working with his hands.”
Perdue’s handiwork remains at the park today: the iron gates at the park’s main entrance are original to the farm and, according to Boone, the house Perdue built was converted into a Shelby County Sheriff’s substation.
“My father and a friend worked to create those big gates for the farm,” Boone said. “Originally they were just off the county road, but have been moved back.”
Perdue died in 1993, but his legacy continues on in the land that he loved. “He truly felt at home there,” Boone said. “It was a place where he worked hard, but loved having his family there to enjoy it.”
Shelby County and the Shelby County Board of Education purchased the 74-acre property from the City of Hoover in 1997 with the expectation of developing a sports and community center. Today the land has become just that, while still living its legacy as a place of retreat and communion with nature.