Sunday, December 19, 2010

Christmas Adventures in Historic Mobile

Good morning! Hopefully, you have all your Christmas shopping completed and you are enjoying a warm and cozy morning.

I thought I'd share some pictures of historic mansions in downtown Mobile that my friends and I visited on December 5. Every year several of the historic mansions host a Christmas 'open house' where you can visit the house, sample various foods and tea, and be entertained with events such as classical music, storytelling, and carriage rides.

Our first stop was the Bragg-Mitchell Mansion, a gorgeous example of Greek Revival architecture on Springhill Avenue in midtown Mobile. The mansion was built by Judge John Bragg in 1855 as a second residence for his family during the holidays while the rest of the year would have been spent at his other residence in Montgomery. Since Judge Bragg's death in 1878, the mansion has been owned by four families, the last being the Mitchell family. They renovated the mansion and it was open to the public in 1987.

As part of the Christmas experience at the Bragg-Mitchell, the inside of mansion was decorated with lovely Christmas trees and other decorations for the season. For entertainment, there was a harpist playing in the parlor and a chance to enjoy a carriage ride outside.

Bragg-Mitchell - Christmas tree

Bragg-Mitchell - carriage ride

It was a cold, windy day, but that didn't stop my friends and I from enjoying a carriage ride around the mansion. Anticipating the cold weather, the carriage had blankets for the ride. Isn't the horse lovely?

Our next stop was the Richards DAR (Daughters of the Revolution) House, a beautiful example of Italianate architecture and lace ironwork. The house is located on N. Joachim Street. It was built in 1860 by Charles Richards, a steamboat captain. The house was sold to the Ideal Cement Company in 1946 and later to the city of Mobile in 1973. The Daughters of the Revolution leased the house from the city eventually turning it into a period house museum.

The house was decorated for the holidays with several trees and decorations. Docents were scattered throughout the various rooms of the house, speaking about the history of the house and rooms.

DAR House - close-up of Christmas tree decorations

DAR House - DAR symbol stained glass window

Two of the Azalea trail maids were in attendance at the DAR House. The girls who are chosen from the local high schools serve as ambassadors to Mobile for a year. They attend events throughout Mobile and know quite a bit about the history of the city. Their dresses are gorgeous, but cost a small fortune to make!

DAR House - blue Azalea trail maid

DAR House - yellow Azalea trail maid

DAR House - 150 year old crape myrtle, which can be seen from the second story of the house!

The last mansion we toured that day was the Oakleigh Mansion and complex on Oakleigh Place in midtown Mobile. It is another example of Greek Revival architecture that was built around 1833 by James Roper, who made his fortune in cotton. The complex consists of three buildings, the Oakleigh mansion, the Cox-Deasy house, and the cook's quarters.

The Oakleigh complex houses a large collection of historical artifacts, paintings, and furniture that has been donated or loaned to the complex to education the public on life during the antebellum period. With the three residences that make up the Oakleigh complex, you are given a unique look into three aspects of daily life: upper class, middle class, and servants.

While the other two mansions were 'open houses' where you could wander throughout the residence, Oakleigh provided you with a historic tour of the complex by one of the Oakleigh Belles dressed in period costume. These girls are chosen every year from the local high schools. They are instructed in historical preservation and act as docents for Oakleigh.

On the way to Oakleigh, my friends and I spotted a coffee shop called Creme and Sugar on George St. After visiting our tour at Oakleigh, we decided to walk to the shop. While my friends enjoyed hot chocolate, I bought a frozen drink called the Peanut Butter Conspiracy. A heavenly mixture of mocha, peanut butter, and your choice of vanilla or chocolate ice cream. Talk about a cup of bliss! The only bad thing about the drink was the size, it was huge and could have easily been split between my friends and I. Unfornuately, I couldn't share the was too good O_o" (I'll have to share next time!)

Hope this post inspires you to visit some of Mobile's finest period house museums! Or at least partake in a lovely cup of coffee at the Creme and Sugar.

Until next time ^___^

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