The Caplewood Historic District [†] (also known as Caplewood Terrace) is the latest of three early 20th century subdivision projects planned by local builders or real estate developers in Tuscaloosa. Preceded by the exclusive Pinehurst development in 1908, and later, the Audubon Place development in 1912, the development of Caplewood signaled the beginning of a peak in rapid expansion eastward initiated by the Pinehurst development which extended as far as Alberta City, an adjacent municipality. Between 1924 and 1929, 41 other subdivisions were platted as part of a "feverish real estate expansion eastward."
Originally known as Caplewood Terrace, the subdivision was planned and developed by J. D. Caples, Sr. (1860-1934) in 1922 along a creek and the site of a natural ravine that precluded direct travel to the University of Alabama campus from Tuscaloosa proper. He filled the low areas on the drive with dirt excavated from the City National Bank (National Register, 3/7/1985) building site and had sewers and water pipes installed by manual labor. Caples then planted trees and paved the street.
Most of the homes along Caplewood Drive were constructed by local building associates of Caples, Of the 45 structures in the district, Caples is known to have built five (numbers 22, 23, 26, 42 and 43), and possibly one other (number 30). His son-in-law, B. D. Sumner, also a local builder is credited with three (numbers 16, 35, and 45), while only one (number 33) is attributed as the design of an architect (George P. Turner of Birmingham). Today, Caplewood Drive survives as a quiet lane close to campus with many of its residents claiming association with the University. In hope of insuring the integrity of Caplewood, several of the resident owners are purchasing other homes within the district (that were formerly multiple family rental dwellings) for future restoration, maintenance and resale as single family dwellings.
† Shirley D. Quails, Historic Resource Coordinator, Alabama Historic Committee, Caplewood Drive Historic District, 1985, nomination document, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C., npgallery.nps.gov, accessed July, 2021.
Caplewood Drive • University Boulevard