To preserve the integrity of our beloved historic district as a fellowship of residents and businesses working in harmony and collaboration to ensure that Old Dauphin Way grows and develops for the betterment of all who live here.
As a neighborhood association comprised of 3,000+ structures, we pledge to:
Organize our large district to better learn from and serve the needs of its residents, by serving as a central resource for our district’s diverse and individual enclaves.
Disseminate information regarding business, government, social, and legal activities that may affect our historic district.
Provide family friendly events that promote fellowship and entertainment.
Serve as a voice with our community leaders and organizations.
Recognize excellence in landscaping and beautification.
Promote public safety and crime prevention.
Historic Highlights of Old Dauphin Way
text courtesy Devereaux Bemis and Anne Crutcher
Lying west of the city, the Old Dauphin Way District is part of the Price and Espejo tracts, large Spanish land grants of the early 1800s. Very little development occurred in the area until 1830-1840. From then on frequent listings in Mobile city directories show residents on Spring Hill Road, Spring Hill Shell Road (now Old Shell Road) Dauphin, Common, Ann, Julia, and Lafayette Streets.
Most of the older structures in the district are simple frame cottages which originally housed carpenters, florists, bar pilots, steamboat captains, and commission merchants. Grander houses were also built and can still be seen along Dauphin Street and Spring Hill Avenue. Some street names reflect families who settled the area. For example, Espejo Street was name for Antonio Espejo, recipient of the western land grant by the Spanish crown, and Catherine Street was named for his wife Catalina. Reed Avenue was named for W. A. Reed who lived on that street, and he later subdivided Gladys and Kenneth Streets, which were named for two of his children.
This one block of Common Street between Conti and Dauphin, along with six buildings on Dauphin Street adjacent to Common, were all listed on the National Register in 1982 as the Common Street Historic District. In 1984 this area was absorbed into the Old Dauphin Way Historic District. This unique one-block area has a concentration of residential buildings that create a visual record of the major residential architectural styles seen in the city from the 1850s to the 1940s. Many of the buildings are Victorian cottages from the late 19th-century. Other buildings on the street are vernacular working-class cottages such as the house at 17 Common Street. The houses located at 959 through 1002 Dauphin Street principally date from the mid-19th century, although some underwent major alterations in the Victorian era.
At right, five cottages on Common Street featured on ODWA's Candlelight Home Tour in 2002. From top to bottom: numbers 7 (1901, Queen Anne style) and 9 (1910, Classical Revival); 13 (1874) and 15 (1896, Classical Revival); 16 (1907, Queen Anne)
Towle House, built in 1874, faces South Hallett Street but has an address on Montauk Avenue. This Italianate residence with bracketed eaves and lacy porch decoration was constructed for Amos Towle, who both lived and operated the Towle Institute, a boys’ school, from the house. is now operated as a bed and breakfast.
Unique in the district is Caroline Avenue, a three-block span of shot-gun board-and-batten cottages, residences of servants who worked in the big houses on Government Street. While there are many lovely trees lining the streets of Old Dauphin Way, of special interest is the Duffee Oak on Caroline Avenue. It is the first tree to have a protective preservation bill passed in the State Legislature.
Three Gulf Coast cottages typify some of the earliest expressions of this type of residential architecture in the city: Numbers 20, 22 and 23 South Lafayette. They were residences of working-class people, rather than society's elite. The house at 23 South Lafayette was constructed in 1852 for a ship's carpenter and architect. Constructed in 1868, 20 South Lafayette was built for a steamship company clerk, and 22 South Lafayette, also constructed in 1868, was owned by a bookkeeper for a cotton factory.
Dauphin Street Corridor
This street is the major east-west route through the Old Dauphin Way and Midtown Districts. As the city expanded westward, the wealthiest citizens built their houses in this prominent corridor. The 1550 block of Dauphin, for example, illustrates the quality of the houses in this area. The house at 1551 Dauphin is the design of C.L. Hutchisson, Jr., and is done in the Classical Revival style with a red tile roof. At 1555, 1557, and 1565 Dauphin are large two-story houses of varying designs, yet each is inspired by the Classic Revival. Anchoring the end of the block at 1569 Dauphin is a much earlier house constructed in 1869 in the Gothic Revival style.
Originally named Bienville Street, this was opened just after the turn of the century and ran west from Ann Street to Lafayette. The portion west of Lafayette was originally called Iberville Street
and was opened about 15 years later.
This subdivision is one of the city's unique streets with a large planted median. Anchoring the block at Catherine Street is the Shepherd House, a fanciful Queen Anne constructed in 1897. The remainder of the street has a good collection of classically detailed American Foursquares and bungalows.
North Monterey Street & Fearnway
These are separate subdivisions of Fearn Realty, both developed in the first decade of the 20th-century. Houses on North Monterey are primarily American Foursquares which are classically detailed. Curved and divided to slow traffic and planted with lovely oaks dripping Spanish moss, charming Fearnway features more Bungalows. Originating in California in the early years of the 20th century, the Bungalow quickly became popular throughout the nation, and Mobile was no exception. The style, in a diluted form, continued to be built in Mobile through the 1930s.
Subdivided in 1911, this streetscape developed over a narrow period of time resulting in a concentration of Bungalows on the street. The Bungalows are, however, decorated in a variety of styles including Classical Revival and Arts and Crafts that produce visual variety style on the street.
Located at 1664 Springhill, the Vincent House, circa 1826, is Mobile's oldest residential estate on its original site. It was the country home of Benjamin Vincent, owner of a steamboat that ran between Coden and New Orleans. It originally had an open first floor and a staircase on the west side that gave access to the second floor through the gallery, a feature typical of early cottages. Numerous alterations over the years have resulted in the removal of the staircase and enclosure of the first floor for additional living space. Presently the Vincent House serves as headquarters for Mobile's tricenntennial activities.
Thanks to Devereaux Bemis and Anne Crutcher of the Mobile Historic Development Commission for the historic highlights. Photos are from various home tours conducted by the Old Dauphin Way Association.