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.

By 1980, the Battle House was the only building still intact on its city block. After nearly thirty years of standing vacant, it was restored to its former splendor when the Retirement Systems of Alabama bought the building in 2003. The restoration was completed and the building reopened in 2007.

Next, we'll go inside.....

source: USA Archives


  1. I am a follower but don't know why I haven't caught up on your blog. I love the history of our community. I have always loved this building and can't wait to see the inside. I haven't been in the building ever and I am so interested in it. I guess my favorite of all of the buildings is the GM&O. I would love to see the restoration. I will be reading the post before this one to catch up. Have a good day and don't get too hot. The heat is terrible.

  2. Thanks for posting! I simply cannot take this heat, either. Did a little weeding around 6:30 last night and was drenched when I came inside. I am learning so much about Mobile. In a way it's embarassing that I knew so little about my home town.

  3. i have always loved the Battle House but the GM&O is just too cool. I think it was restored but I don't know to what end. My mom had her wedding reception at the Battle House too which is really cool.
    There are some other buildings that need serious help downtown before they are demolished. Barton Academy, the American Legion post on Government St.
    I'm sure there are others.

  4. I was just thinking about the GM&O building! Will have to do some checking on that. I have a sinking feeling that the plans to renovate were abandoned.