Tuesday, June 8, 2010
A Bit of History - The Battle House Hotel
Named for its owners, James, John and Samuel Battle, the original Battle House opened in 1852 on the site of a former military headquarters set up by Andrew Jackson during the War of 1812. The picture above represents the hotel after being rebuilt in 1908. The original hotel was destroyed by fire in 1905.
Many famous people can be counted among the guests of the Battle House, including Henry Clay, Jefferson Davis, Millard Fillmore, and Winfield Scott. Stephen A. Douglas was a guest the night he lost the presidency to Abraham Lincoln. A National Weather Service station was established at the Battle House in 1880 and electric lighting was added in 1884.
Once the rebuilt hotel opened, it remained a prominent fixture of Mobile through the first and second World Wars. While staying there in 1913, Woodrow Wilson made his famous statement that the "U.S. would never again wage another war of aggression."
This historic building fell into disrepair over the ensuing decades and was closed in 1974. Various reasons can be attributed to this, the main one being urban blight, in my opinion. My wedding reception was held in the Crystal Ballroom of this glorious hotel in 1971. At that time it was still a popular place for such events, although the surrounding areas in downtown Mobile were less than desirable.
How ironic that the Battle House was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1975, one year after it closed. But the story does not end there.
Next, we'll go inside.....
source: USA Archives