Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Mobile Historic Homes Tour - Rutherford House

For YEARS I have wanted to go on the Mobile Historic Homes Tour, and have never been able to go. I FINALLY made it this year, and I can promise you I will never miss another one. Mobile is rich in history, and I was amazed at some of the stories these houses hold.

The houses on this tour are not what you envision when you think "old" Mobile. Most people think plantations, with big porches, but these houses are far from that.

Italianate style was the most popular architectural style from 1840 until after the Civil War. Queen Anne and High Victorian style came soon after and replaced the Italianate design. You see this style of home throughout the older cities such as Mobile, Charleston and Savannah. The Italianate villa had flexible floor plans with easy access to the outdoors. Mansions were square with deep eaves and ornate iron work.


Out in front of the home you will see two Azalea Trail Maids along with an Oakleigh Belle greeting visitors


The homes had several tour guides placed throughout. They would tell you about the house and answers any questions you may have. We were told that this was the first official neighborhood in Mobile. Many of these homeowners had summer homes in Springhill. Springhill is an area of Mobile, and is located about 10 minutes from this neighborhood. They would close up their residences during the summer and relocate to their summer homes, due to the heat. That is just crazy to me that you have a summer home 10 minutes away, and it is bigger than your full time house. I can imagine that in a horse drawn carriage, dirt roads and summer heat made that 10 minutes seem like 10 hours. 


You can tell alot about people by their homes. Especially during this period. The family that lived here was very wealthy. According to the brochure he owned a dock on Mobile's water front and had extensive interest in banking and insurance. Thus the reason he could afford all of that plaster moulding.

The ornate plaster mouldings, arches, corbels and medallions were amazing. 


We were told that a local law firm had leased/purchased the space and would be renovating it. I am glad to see that. I hate to see these old homes and buildings be demolished or just fall in. This one needs a good bit of work. Like gardens and marriages, old houses require a lot of upkeep and work. Some people don't want to fool with all that maintenance, and the houses may sit there for years vacant. Sooner or later, someone will come along that wants to take the time and effort and restore it to its former self.


The cantilevered stairway was stunning. I have always loved them. I saw some amazing cantilevered stairways in England that serviced 5 or more floors. 


This arched opening serves as a partition to separate the foyer and stairwell. The plaster corbel is beautiful. I bet all that is a pain to dust though!




Gasoliers are used throughout the home. Gasoliers are gas chandeliers that used Argand gas, and were first used in 1849. Mobile was actually the third  city in the United States to get gas. Some ceilings medallions would have hidden ventilation grilles underneath. The gasoliers had a tool that would turn the keys in the underside of the lamp to release the gas, and a lighter near the tool to light the flame. If you look at the arms of the gasolier, below the globe you will see the key. When electricity was introduced, most gasoliers were electrified.



Ornate plaster moulding found in the double parlors on the first floor.


There were 3 main rooms on the first floor. They would have all been used for entertaining. The public spaces would have been the most ornate showcasing the large plaster mouldings, ceiling medallions, carved marble fireplaces, and tall base boards. One thing I learned while studying all those manors, estates, and palaces in England...the bigger the crown and the taller the moulding the wealthier they are.  


All of the fireplaces would have been hand carved and shipped in from Italy, and the dog grate would have been cast iron.


This room was probably used as a gathering space for the gentleman. It features a less ornate fireplace and simplified crown moulding.


The ceiling medallion is also smaller in diameter than the other two found in the double parlors



This is where the upstairs floor level meets up to the second floor crown moulding.


The upstairs room are a lot more basic than the others...but they are still beautiful





I know at some point the home had been used as an office. Not sure how long ago...I'm guessing the late 70's by the style of files and desks that were stored in one of the rooms...and not to mention that light fixture!!!


The keyholes on the main doorways are covered by brass swags...


they covered the holes so nosey people couldn't peep through to the other side


I hope ya'll enjoyed your first tour. I can't wait to show you the rest! There were 2 homes that were private residences, so I wasn't able to take pics in them. That sucked too because, one of them was out of this world!!!!!

See ya'll tomorrow

5 comments:

Nezzy said...

Oh my, oh my, why don't they make homes like this today. You can just feel the love put into all the detailed work there.

This was a grand tour sweetie and the pictures are wonderful. Love the way they adored the house with those southern beauties!!!

Thanks, this was great!

God bless ya sweetie and enjoy your day!

I'm so glad ya got to do this and ever gladder ya shared it! :o)

The Bama Gardener said...

Beautiful. I drive by the homes all the time but have never gone on the tour. Maybe next year!!

Lona said...

Wow! That staircase is amazing April. I love all of those tall windows and the woodwork is amazing. I hope someone takes good care of that house. All those fireplaces. Just wonderful. Those dresses are beautiful but I would have hated to wear all that. LOL!

Shirley said...

Too bad you couldn't take photos of them all! Love the staircases featured here!

Darla said...

Very interesting, I love, love, love those dresses!!!!!!!!!!!

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