If a city has an organic life and physiology of its own, then the many-sided Jemison Companies were to Birmingham, Alabama, what nerve and blood cells are to the human anatomy. Founded in 1888 by Robert Jemison, Jr.*, the corporation included a real estate firm, investment banking company and mortgage loan company. Mr. Jemison's companies developed a half dozen residential communities, planned the modern industrial town of Fairfield, negotiated the construction of some of Birmingham's largest business structures, managed a good-sized portion of Birmingham's real property, and loaned more money than anybody else to build or improve the city's homes, farms and commercial property.
Cited by the Alabama Chapter of the American Institute of Architects for "his long continued and successful efforts in raising standards of architecture in Alabama," Mr. Jemison was elected an honorary associate of the chapter, the only such election in its history. A former president of the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce and former vice-president of its Park Commission, Mr. Jemison served on the City Planning and Zoning Committee of President Hoover's Conference on Home Building and Home Ownership. A director of the National Conference on City Planning, he also was the first state director of FHA for Alabama. During World War I he served as assistant manager of the housing division of the Emergency Fleet Corporation.
During Mr. Jemison's presidency of the National Association of Real Estate Boards, the Association secured, through a revision of the Federal Revenue Act, the first recognition in income tax law of installment sales and of deferred payment sales of real estate. It was during his presidency that the University of Michigan established the first full professorship in real estate created in any American university and authorized the first granting of a master's degree in real estate business administration.
Source: Presidents of the National Association of REALTORS®, (Chicago: NAR, 1980).