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Hours of Operation Tuesday through Saturday 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. To schedule a group tour, Please call 432-6161 or 432-1281

Historic Mobile Preservation Society – creating tangible links to the past for the benefit of present and future generations.

The Oakleigh Historic Complex’s latest display will be Quilts through History in conjunction with the Azalea City Quilters Guild. The exhibit will run from Tuesday, February 4 through Saturday, March 1, 2014 and will feature antique quilts throughout the house and the history of quilting. In addition to this exhibit we will have special events featuring Ms. Alma Moates, American Quilter’s Society (AQS) textile appraiser. Ms. Moates will be at the Oakleigh Mansion Thursday, February 6 and Friday, February 7 for quilt appraisals. The appraisals will be $65, come see how much your old quilt is worth. Ms. Moates will also be our guest speaker for February’s Evening in History, Ms. Moates will be showing a bed turning from her own collection of antique quilts. If you’ve never seen a bed turning this is an event worth attending and is free to our members.

Volume 46, Issue 1

Winter 2014



he 45th Annual Historic Homes Tour will be held March 14 and 15, 2014. This year’s Homes Tour will be located near and around Washington Square in the Historic Oakleigh Garden District. Many of the homes on tour feature excellent examples of Italianate Architecture, which is unique to the Mobile region after the Reconstruction period. The Historic Mobile Preservation Society has partnered with the Historic Battle House Renaissance Hotel and Spa. The Battle House is offering a Deluxe Guestroom which will include breakfast for two in the Trellis Rom, two Homes Tour tickets and complimentary valet parking for $189.00. Visit our Website to get more detailed information: and click on the Homes Tour page to take advantage of this wonderful offer. If you would like to volunteer to work on the Homes Tour committee please call us at 251-432-6161 or email hmps@

Smith-Hays-Cutts House | 250 Chatham Street John Little Smith constructed this Italianate style house in 1868. Surviving receipts record the purchase of the home’s heart pine floors and mahogany stair railing. In 1937, the Mr. and Mrs. Robert D. Hays purchased the house. The couple moved the house from the center of the block and to its present location so to develop and sell lots to the west of the house. At that time, the house was changed from an even feet grade to its elevation. For a number of years, the house served as a popular entertainment venue. A 2004 restoration brought about the reconstruction of the house’s front gallery. Architectural elements salvaged from lost Mobile homes are located on the house, ancillary buildings, and grounds. Lyons-Hendricks House, 1854/1890 | 1118 Palmetto Street Thomas B. Lyons, owner of the foundry where the Confederate submarine the Hundley was built, constructed this raised dwelling in 1854. A battered “Egyptian” door surround survives from the first phase of the construction. In 1895, Lyons descendants remodeled the house in the popular Aesthetic Movement inspired Queen Anne. Turned posts porch posts and a pyramidal turret date from the renovation. The interior features double parlors separated by pocket doors.

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By: Cyndi Newell

T HMPS Leadership 2013-2014 Board of Directors

Officers President Michon Trent Vice-President Hodge Alves Secretary Cart W. Blackwell, III Treasurer Allan Gustin

he Oakleigh Belles Leadership Program, established in 2007 by the Historic Mobile Preservation Society, it is a rich program which provides leadership learning experiences for area high-school girls. The Belles, dressed in 19th century attire, provide tours of the Oakleigh Historic Complex and represent HMPS during community and special events. In addition to providing tours and representing HMPS, the program has a focus on leadership training and develops an understanding of non-profit organizations. Training for the Belles includes public speaking, fundraising, and historic preservation. Each Oakleigh Belle is personable, knowledgeable in Mobile history and serves as a role model to her peers. The Belles add local charm of our Southern hospitality to every tour they give. The Belles have worked very hard on their new fundraiser, “A Southern Salon.” The fundraiser, which is in honor of Madame Octavia Walton LeVert and her famous, “Salons”, featured local student musicians, authors, and thespians. The event was held on Sunday, January 26. The proceeds of the Salon will benefit the Oakleigh Belle Leadership Program and will fund a legacy gift from the 2013-2014 Belles to Oakleigh. Oakleigh Belles are chosen each spring and serve a term from June to May each year. The program is open to 10, 11, and 12 grade girls. Application will be available online starting January 20, 2014. More information is available online at and or by calling the HMPS Administrative office at 251-432-6161 or the Oakleigh Museum Office 251-432-1281

Directors Bob Allen Lynda Finley Carol Earls-Franklin Kern M. Jackson Stacey Killingsworth Chris S. King Erica Lasselle McElhaney Charles Parmenter Day Peake III Allison Peebles Paul Shestak




he Archives of the Historic Mobile Preservation Society are home to an impressive collection of documents, photographs, maps, books, letters and artifacts relating mostly to 19th and 20th century Mobile, its people, places and things. These materials have been donated over the decades since the HMPS founding in 1935. More recently, since 1980, they have been housed in the Minnie Mitchell Archives at Oakleigh. In December the archives were reopened to the public after a closure of almost three years. An updated index of the collection has been posted on the HMPS website and volunteers have been assessing and organizing newly donated materials. Under the direction of archivist Bob Peck and our volunteers, almost 300 hours have been devoted to this project. This has all been made possible by members and friends of HMPS. The collection is being cataloged in Past Perfect, a collection management system used by over 8500 museums. When this is completed it will provide the public with even greater access to the exceptional materials to be found in the HMPS archives. In the archives, we welcome your inquiries as well as your contributions to the collection; please call us at 251-432-6161.


SPRING RAMBLE 2014 It’s that time of year again; we are gearing up for our annual Spring Ramble. We will spend the day exploring the historic Black Belt town of Demopolis, Alabama. Our day includes visits to Gaineswood, Ash Cottage, Bluff Hall, Lyon Hall, historic churches and more. We will have a guided walking tour and a bus tour of Demopolis. Please call 251-432-6161 to reserve your spot today. Tickets are $100.00.

Calendar of Events February 4 – March 1, 2014 Quilts Through History

February 6 &7, 2014 Quilt Appraisal Days By appointment only. $65 Please call 432-1281 for more details.


February 20, 2014


Crump-Hendricks House 1120 Palmetto Street This side hall house is one of a pair of houses constructed by lumberman Lawrence Crump in 1895. Constructed on speculative basis, Crump sold the house to Anna S. Lyons of neighboring 1118 Palmetto Street. The house features a single-story front porch and a large rear wing. A large heart pine ancillary building is situated in the rear lot. The house is undergoing a restoration. Antoinette Apartments - Forcheimer-MeaherBaumhower Building | 960 Government Street Completed in 1911, the Antoinette Apartments were Mobile’s first luxury apartments. The Renaissance Revival exterior epitomizes the elegance and majesty of Beaux Arts Classicism. Built for the Forcheimer family, promiment financiers and businessmen, the building rests atop the site of the last home of famous author Augusta Evans Wilson. Foundations of the Wilson house partially support the grand building. The Antoinette’s finely appointed interiors rival the exterior in their scale and treatment. Owned for almost eighty years by the Meaher family, the building is undergoing a thorough in appearance and association.

An Evening in History Alma Moates, “A Bed Turning” 6:00pm Free for members $10 for guests

March 14 & 15, 2014 Historic Homes Tour $20 per person Visit for more information and to purchase tickets

April 5, 2014 Spring Ramble Demopolis, Alabama Tickets: $100 per person Please call 251-432-6161 for more information to purchase tickets

April 6, 2014 Just Desserts 2pm-5pm Opening Event for our tablescapes display Admission: $10/person

April 8 - 29, 2014 Spring Settings Oakleigh

www.H i s tor i c M o bi l e .o r g


THE “COOK’S HOUSE” PROJECT - AN INTRODUCTION By Lauren C. Vanderbijl, Historic Preservation Consultant


he “Cook’s House”, the cottage structure behind Oakleigh, has been the subject of many stories over the years, and as a result, has had many names over the past several years. Since early December, our research team has spent every free moment digging for buried treasure. Many trips to local archives as well as interviews with local community members, have born fruit and we are starting to put together, piece by piece, the intricate puzzle of the story that belongs to this mysterious structure. This story cannot be told by anyone individual but must be told by the community. In particular, it is vitally important that we include the next generation in this task. With great pleasure, I introduce our student research team. LoRen Burroughs, a recent graduate of the University of South Alabama (December 2013), and Alex Bailey, a senior and History major at the University of South Alabama, were both selected and awarded internships stipend to participate in this Alexis C., Ryan A., Noelle E. (Oakleigh Belle), Jane H. project. As African American Studies minors with an interest in local history, they both bring experience and a unique passion for this project. Four students from the Murphy I.B. Junior Class have also joined us as volunteer interns: Alexis Cole, Ryan Ankersen, Noelle Elmore (Oakleigh Belle), Jane Hanebuth. The internship for students thus far has included an orientation to local archives and historic research, a study of Oakleigh and guided tour methods, an architectural survey of the blocks surrounding the property, and a behind the scenes experience at the History Museum of Mobile with Mr. Scotty Kirkland (Curator of History). The students will also be engaged in event planning and community conversations as we prepare for a Preview Opening in February. The physical restoration of the “Cook’s House” is now complete, the unfolding story has shown us that the journey for us has only begun. HMPS will gradually open its doors to the public this coming Spring and Summer.

LoRen Burroughs, Alex Bailey, Lauren Vanderbijl



nder HMPS By-Laws that were revised last year, the Assets Committee is responsible for all of the physical assets that are owned or operated by HMPS. That’s a big job and includes buildings, grounds, collections (displayed in the houses), and archives. The Committee has been attempting to address as many issues involving these things as possible. For instance, there is interesting news about the archives. After having been ignored for years, HMPS has received a modest grant to work toward re-organizing the archives and making them ready to re-open to the public. We are in the midst of that work, but we have discovered amazing things. For instance, the archives contain what is probably the largest collection of documents related to the Civil War battle at Blakeley, and the archives contain the library of George Rogers, one of Mobile’s premier architects. We are sure that there are more surprises in store as we work our way through the archives.



Of course, everything that the Assets Committee does is not as exciting as discovering things in the archives. We have had a significant leak in the roof of the Archives Building that has just been repaired so that the archives that we are exploring are safe. We are also in the process of repairing some rotten wood on the front façade of the Archives Building, and we are in the process of fund-raising to replace the roof of the Cox-Deasy House, which is also in need of replacement. The Committee has also completed an assessment of Oakleigh and communicated some of the needs to the City. The Committee is about to begin an update to the collections inventory to include photographs of significant items. As you can see, there is a lot to do. If you have any comments or questions about what the Assets Committee is doing or if you want to be involved in what the Assets Committee does please call us 251-432-6161


By Cartledge W. Blackwell

Creole Carnivals T. C. DeLeon. 1890. Reprint Bienville Books (available for purchase at the same location) $7.95


hile most communities experience an inevitable down after the revelry of Christmas and New Year, Mobilians need not fear depression of any sort. In Mobile one is afforded the opportunity to not only enjoy reality of new beginning, but also the reflection upon and anticipation of a venerable tradition – Carnival. Like the best of elixirs, Carnival affords old and young alike an escape both to and from reality (Paradoxical, yes, but the cerebral concoction is a true one.). Many words, spoken and written have been spilled on subject. Arguably no work on the Mobile’s favorite season is as informative or as enjoyable as the first, T. C. De Leon’s Creole Carnivals. Thomas Cooper De Leon was a South Carolinian of Spanish descendant. Educated in the Northeast, he ventured to Mobile after serving with Confederate forces during the Civil War. As with any good transplant (geographical convert), De Leon soon became enamored with the City by the Bay. He served as the editor of the Mobile Register and the manager of what evolved into the Mobile Carnival Association. Published in 1890, Creole Carnivals roughly coincided with the author’s twenty year residence in Mobile and more importantly the fiftieth anniversary of carnival in the United States. Less than forty pages in length, Creole Carnivals is an informative as well as an engaging read. Period rhetoric and booster enthusiasm only make the book all the more thought-provoking. The slim tome was written as a response, an explication, and a celebration of carnival in Mobile and New Orleans. De Leon first opens his monologue by explaining the nomenclature. Carnival and Mardi Gras are defined and clearly differentiated. An overview of the history of Carnival in general - from its pagan antecedents, medieval festivals, baroque masques, and importation beyond the Catholic Europe - provides a foundation which the author tells of the birth and growth of “Creole” Carnival in Mobile, and later in New Orleans. The bulk of the text deals with the perfection of Carnival in America. As one might expect, the formation and character of the early parading orders are discussed. The fun-filled beginning of the Cowbellian de Rakins is described with the same gusto and aplomb as the carefully coordinated events of century’s end. Positioned as a spectacle for all people, De Leon hits upon the appeal and appearance of the season by describing it as “mingling the grotesque and the gorgeous.” Interestingly, De Leon pays considerable attention to the early fame of Carnival. De Leon provides readers with cities as diverse as Augusta, Vicksburg, St. Louis, Cincinnati, and New York who attempted to start similar festivals in their cities. There is no

better form of complement than is emulation. Claiming climate, he goes to confidently claim that those hot house creatures lack the heritage and spirit of the residents of Gulf Coast. The experience of Mardi Gras is rendered eloquently from the moment of opening one’s eyes in the morning, having them pop throughout the day, and ultimately closing them (somewhere) in the early morning hours. Illustrated with charming prints of early floats, Creole Carnival is a celebration of Mobile and its most enduring creation. The evolution of the season and the experience thereof allows for the appreciation of tradition and reflection of one’s own memories. Whether a reader has grown up experiencing Carnival or has been awakened to them only recently, this early account of a merrimentfilled tradition is worth the time and the smiles. Fun to read and fact-filled, the book is a good start for your New Year’s reading list. Let the pages turn and the good times roll.

Sponsors for “A Southern Salon” McFadden, Lyon & Rouse, Attorneys • Cooner Roofing • Reggie Copeland, Jr., Attorney • Vance McCrary, Attorney Boteler, Finley & Wolfe, Attorneys • The Watson Family • Fleming & Chavers, Attorneys • Spectrum Auto Feather Your Nest • The Stewart Family

www.H i s tor i c M o bi l e .o r g


Landmark Letter  

Winter 2014

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