As we’ve covered before, Mobile is absolutely entrenched in history. As one of the older cities in the state, and a Port city at that, Mobile’s got all kinds of historical homes, monuments, museums, and more. While we love covering specific historical monuments, we wanted to give all Mobile guests (and maybe even some residents!) a great guide to the historic districts of Mobile, because there are quite a few.
What makes a historic district?
In the City of Mobile, we have registered 7 different districts on the National Register of Historic Places, and a few more locally recognized and maintained as historic districts, even if not on a registry. Here’s a list of the historic districts in Mobile:
- Church Street
- Lower Dauphin (LoDa)
- Oakleigh Garden District
- Old Dauphin Way
- Ashland Place
- De Tonti Square
- Midtown Mobile
- Africatown and the African American Heritage Trail
The easiest way to tell if a building is historic, especially in Mobile, is to look for a certain plaque issued by the Mobile Historic Development Commission. They look a bit like this:
Once you take notice of these plaques, you’ll start to see them all over town and if you look at that map, it makes a good deal of sense! Huge swaths of our city are cordoned off as historic districts.
So, as you can see, Mobile really is absolutely full of history. For the purposes of today’s discussion, let’s really dig into Church Street East. We can circle back to the other ones at a later date (and we will!).
Church Street Historic District
Incorporated as a historic district in the early 1970s, Church Street is one of the older historic districts in Mobile. The crown-jewel of this district, so to speak, is the Cathedral of Immaculate Conception, on Church Street itself. But, this is not the only historical site in the district. The Fort Conde Inn, and therefore the entire Fort Conde Village, is within the Church Street District.
Among other sites is the Fort Conde-Charlotte House (not to be confused with the Inn!), which stood as Mobile’s first courthouse and jail. Now, it stands as a gorgeous museum looking to educate visitors on Mobile’s History.
Of course, how can we forget the Church Street Graveyard, where many prominent early-Mobile figures have been laid to rest? Many grave-sites are located above-ground as well, making it a fun graveyard for exploring (if that’s your thing).
The Old Southern Market, also previously City Hall for Mobile, is also in the Church Street Historic District. Originally built during the Civil War, the market rented stalls to farmers and grocers to keep the city supplied. After the war, the building was refurbished into Mobile’s City Hall. Currently, however, the facility hosts the History Museum of Mobile. What a better way to learn about the history than standing in it?
Lastly, we’d like to highlight Widow’s Row, a section of Eslava street that was originally constructed to house “indigent widows” in the city. It’s an interesting part of history, to think that only 150-or-so years ago women whose husbands passed moved into developments like these regularly.
As one of the oldest historic districts in Mobile, Church Street East Historic District holds a lot of the business district of downtown. Right near Water Street, those who work in downtown Mobile often find themselves in the throes of history, without even realizing it. Places like the Mobile Civic Center don’t feel that historic, but if you take a look around, you’ll notice the history all around you.
If the Church Street Historic District appeals to you, check out their website, where you can find tons of information about individual homes, and even a guide for a walking tour of the district.
This will be a weekly series exploring each of Mobile’s Historic Districts with updates on Wednesdays, make sure to follow along to see your favorite historic district highlighted!