Saturday, February 2, 2008

History of Mobile, Alabama

History of Mobile, Alabama

Founded in 1702, Mobile was the capital of French Louisiana until 1720, when the capital was moved to Biloxi and still later to the new city of New Orleans. From an historical aspect, Mobile in the early 1700’s experienced many of the same kinds of settlement patterns as New Orleans. Like New Orleans, the government of Mobile alternated between various foreign powers until finally being annexed by the United States, New Orleans in 1803 as part of the Louisiana Purchase, Mobile in 1813. As a consequence, the early architecture of both reflects the diversity found in port cities.

Around the 1830’s, Mobile became second only to New Orleans in exporting cotton, and new construction began in earnest.[i] Brick and stucco buildings became the norm. A lumber boom of the 1850’s saw a return to the erection of frame houses with many large mansions being built of wood. Elizabeth Barrett Gould, in her book From Builders to Architects, outlines the rise and decline of Mobile in contrast with other southern urban areas.[ii] In 1860, before the Civil War, Mobile was the fourth largest city in the South. By 1880, Mobile had dropped to eighth place. These statistics belie the fact that the city was experiencing rapid urban growth during the post-war years. The changes taking place around her hometown during Joel Ninde’s seminal years probably helped shape the desire within her to seek a career in architecture.

[i] Anne E. Grimmer. The Southern Stucco Tradition, CRM Volume 14: No. 71991, page 10.[ii] Gould, Elizabeth. From Builders to Architects The Hobart-Hutchison on Six Black Belt Press, Montgomery, Alabama.

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