Seaholm grad Tyler Firestone’s Birmingham history project is on display at the Birmingham Museum as part of a special exhibition.

Seaholm grad Tyler Firestone’s Birmingham history project is on display at the Birmingham Museum as part of a special exhibition.

Photo by Deb Jacques


Seaholm grad honored for Birmingham history project

By: Tiffany Esshaki | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published June 17, 2019

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BIRMINGHAM — While many of his classmates steamed their caps and gowns and put the final touches on their graduation parties, Seaholm High School senior Tyler Firestone was shaping himself into a bona fide detective.

The graduate, who had recently moved to Birmingham from Atlanta, said he wanted to know a little bit more about the city that was now his home. He delved into an intense search of local buildings and features with the help of staff at the Birmingham Museum, and his findings are now on display at the museum in a new exhibition.

According to Birmingham Museum Director Leslie Pielack, Firestone sought to learn the origins of some of Birmingham’s more historical landmarks, and he also wanted to know how the town came to be known as affluent and unique.

“History is always something I’ve been interested in. I always enjoyed my history classes a lot. So last year, during the college application process, I kind of had to narrow down my hobbies to just what I was really interested in, because there just wasn’t enough time,” Firestone, 18, explained. “I could tell that Birmingham had some interesting history going on, walking around town and seeing all these historical signs. I just didn’t know what it was yet.”

The result was a capstone project he titled “Genius Hour,” and which took a full trimester to build with artifacts and other materials from the museum.

“Tyler’s process of questioning, research and discovery is exactly what museum staff do every day,” said Pielack. “This is just the kind of student-led project we want to see more of at the museum.”

The capstone also earned Firestone Seaholm’s Curiosity in Research award from the school’s English department upon graduation. He said the project was an interesting way to connect all of the concepts he’s learned in history classes over the years to real communities.

“In every history class I’ve taken, we’ve always talked about industrialization at the beginning of the 20th century. We’ve learned how this industrialization was super important worldwide. (Locally), it contributed to how Birmingham came to be. All these auto executives from General Motors needed places to live, and they came to Birmingham.”

Firestone explained that his exhibit focuses on five things that he interprets as the basis of what makes Birmingham so special. We won’t spoil them for you here, but you can see “Genius Hour” and all its parts in the yearlong exhibition “Birmingham: Before and After” now on display at the museum.

“I loved the partnership the museum offered him. It allowed him to get a lot out of the project,” said Firestone’s mother, Shari Firestone, in a prepared statement. “He would come home excited every day and just loved the research experience.”

Firestone said he’ll attend the University of Michigan in the fall, and he has no plans to waste his inquisitiveness.

“I’m undecided (on what I’ll study). Maybe history or political science,” he said.

To learn more about the Birmingham Museum, including the hours of operation and admission prices, call (248) 530-1928 or visit bhamgov.org.

The Birmingham Museum is located at 556 W. Maple Road in downtown Birmingham.

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