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Welcome to Downtown Mobile

Dauphin Street Virtual Walking Tour

Mobile was established in 1702 by the French in their bid for an empire in America. In 1711, the settlement moved down to its present location where the Mobile River and Mobile Bay meet, making it an important center for the Louisiana Territory. One of the principal streets in the new settlement was Dauphin, named for the son of Louis XIV. Under the Spaniards who ruled from 1780-1813, the street was called St. John or Galvez Street. When the Americans took possession of Mobile in 1813, the street was renamed Dauphin. In the 1830’s, cotton was an important commodity at the Port of Mobile. At that time, Mobile was the third busiest port in the nation.

As the city’s principal commercial corridor, Dauphin Street acquired such a reputation for quality, that the slang phrase “Like walkin’ down Dauphin Street” came to denote anything of exceptional quality.

A fire in 1839 destroyed the older wooden buildings on the street and the two- and three-story brick commercial buildings that we see today began to be built. Many of the early structures had the straight lintels and dentil moulding of the Federal style. The Reconstruction period brought the acceptance of new building trends such as the Italianate style and cast iron facades. The last decades of the 19th Century brought the Victorian era and Revivalism which continued into the 20th Century. The Dauphin Street area has experienced a recent revival because of the historic preservation movement.

A walk back in time

Enjoy dreaming of what it must have been like in the days past of Mobile’s grand history, and absorb the beauty of the architecture and the heritage that surrounds you.

Click on any number in a red circle for more details.

Did you know?
In 1907, when state legislation was seriously considering passing a prohibition bill, a delegation led by Mobile’s mayor traveled to Montgomery to try to prevent it. N.J. McDermott, president of the Bank of Mobile, wired Mobile legislators that “unless anti-prohibitionists win, please give notice that Mobile is prepared to secede from the State of Alabama.”

Did you know?
In the nineteenth century, when the cry of “Fire!” was heard, the fire alarm was sounded by beating on a metal wagon wheel ring with a hammer. Volunteers were always in a hurry to get to the fire because the company that responded first got paid. By law, every citizen was required to have a fire bucket, and three were required in cotton warehouses, taverns and hotels.

Did you know?
During the nineteenth century, the fire wardens were required to carry an 8-foot staff painted vermilion and gold as a sign of their authority. They were also fined heavily if they left the fire before the last spark went out.



(1) 2 South Water Street
Daniels, Elgin & Co. Building, circa 1860
The front of the Elgin Building is one-of-a-kind in Mobile. It is a cast iron facade ordered from the catalogue of the Badger Iron Works Co. in New York and installed on a brick building. The façade is based on the waterfront palazzos of 15th and 16th century Venice. The façade was designed by T.H. Giles.

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(2) 5 Dauphin Street
Pollock & Bernheimer Building, 1904
This ornate building was designed by the architectural firm of Rudolph Benz and Sons. Rudolph Benz was a popular Mobile architect in the Victorian era. Many of his buildings remain today. The façade of this building consists of a glass and metal storefront with highly decorative pilasters. The building was originally six stories tall. The top three stories were lost sometime between 1925 and 1955. The building underwent major renovation in 1985.

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(3) 1 South Royal Street
Abraham Pincus Building, 1891
Designed in 1891 by Rudolph Benz, this commercial brick building is in the Queen Ann Style. The east and south corners have turrets with pyramidal roofs. The building also has a variety of decorative motifs and cast iron balconies.

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(4) 101 Dauphin Street
Van Antwerp Building, 1906
The Van Antwerp Building was designed by George Rogers, and is the first reinforced concrete building constructed in Mobile and at 11 stories was its earliest skyscraper. It remains an important landmark in downtown Mobile. The building is decorated with classical motifs such as the swag and garland on the cornice. The rounded northeast corner contains a large cartouche containing the initials “GVA” for Garet Van Antwerp, the druggist who built the structure to house his pharmacy and drug store.

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(5) 102 Dauphin Street
Levy Wolverton Building, circa 1875
Currently a two-story building with rounded windows with cast iron hoods on the second floor; this building was originally three stories. The decorative sills for the third floor windows are still visible at the cornice line.

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(6) 1 North Royal Street
Burke Building, circa 1875
This two-story brick building covered in stucco was built in 1875 and was originally a three-story building. The round topped windows have cast iron hood moulds. An attached, two-story cast iron balcony which wraps around the corner was added during a 1988 renovation.

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(7) 31 North Royal Street
AmSouth Bank Building, 1965
This 34-story International style skyscraper was the tallest building in Mobile when it was built. It still is today.

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(8) 26 North Royal Street
Battle House Hotel, 1908
The original Battle House was built in 1852 and burned in 1905. The “new” Battle House was designed by Frank M. Andrews. The seven-story brick structure has accented corners, and the first two stories are tan brick massed as stone. The two Battle Houses were visited by such notables as Jefferson Davis, Admiral Raphael Semmes, Generals Bragg, Beauregard, and Taylor. It was at the Battle House on October 27, 1913 that Woodrow Wilson etched his name in history by declaring just before WWI that the Untied States would never again wage a war of aggression. The hotel closed October 1, 1974.

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(9) 56 St. Francis Street
The RSA Tower
Although the RSA Tower is a contemporary high-rise structure, designed by TVS Alabama, Inc., it contains the three elements found in classical high-rise buildings.  The Base is designed to mirror the richness of the surrounding streetscape and add a pedestrian scale.  The Shaft gives the building its vertical characteristic and is the majority of the building façade. The Crown tops the building as it meets the sky and is seen from far away, acting as beacon to Downtown Mobile.

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(10) 68 St. Francis Street
First National Bank Building, 1906
This two-story Classical Revival brick, stone, and terra cotta building was designed Watkins, Hutchisson and Garvin. It has a central pediment and doors with broken segmented arches.

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(11) 106 St. Francis Street
Merchants National Bank Building, 1928
This 23-story skyscraper has Neoclassical elements along the street. The upper stories of the building are stepped. This structure is capped with a pyramidal metal roof. The use of light and dark brick shows the Deco influence.

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(13) 6 St. Joseph Street
Franklin Fire Engine Company #3, 1852
This two-story stucco over brick building is in the Italianate style. A contemporary balcony was added during a 1991 renovation. In 1889, the fire company was incorporated into the newly formed city fire department.

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(14) 110-112 Dauphin Street
Walgreen’s Building, circa 1938
This building is a good example of the simple, undecorative downtown commercial property built in the mid-20th century. At the core of this building, traces might remain from an 1870’s structure. Alternations were so extensive however, it is hard to tell whether the older structure survives.

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(15) 115-117 Dauphin Street
Kress Building, 1913-1914
The Kress Building was designed by Kress’ architect, Seymour Burrell. Originally “L” shaped, the building is now cruciform and has fronts on Royal, Dauphin, St. Emanuel and Conti streets. Highly decorated to attract the eye, the façade has variegated tiles and an elaborate cornice which can still be seen above the modern storefront. The St. Emanuel Street entrance is a later Art Deco design by G.F. Sibbert.

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(16) 125-127 Dauphin Street
McCrory Building, 1924
Art Deco in design, this building was built to hold McCrory’s 5 & 10 Store. It is a two story brick structure with the angular composition and linear hard edges typical of the Art Deco Movement.

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(17) 169 Dauphin Street
Spira & Pincus Building, 1899
Designed by Rudolph Benz. A Classical Revival building in stone, the Spira & Pincus Building has rusticated sills, lintels and pilasters on the second and third floors. The façade also contains a heavily bracketed overhanging cornice and Neoclassical capitals.

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(18) Bienville Square, circa 1850
Bienville Square was named for Mobile’s founder, Jean Baptist le Moyne Sieur de Bienville, a naval officer of France who became the governor of French Louisiana. Bienville Square began its transition into a “public Square” in 1824 when the U.S. Congress passed an act transferring a large plot of land to the City of Mobile. This plot was the site of the old Spanish Hospital on the southwest corner of the block. The Act specifically specified that the property be forever used as a city park.

In 1834 the city began acquiring additional land and by 1849 the city held clear title to the entire block. In the 1850’s improvements were made which included walkways, a now gone cast iron fence, benches, and an ornamented central mound.

The Square became a popular place to promenade, and by the spring of 1890 installation of an “Acanthus Fountain” in the center was underway. The fountain was placed in honor of Dr. George A. Ketchum, a prominent physician, civic leader and president of the Bienville Water Works. Other changes made at this time included paved walks and placement of twelve stone pots and urns to be used as planters.

In 1905, Teddy Roosevelt spoke in the Square about the importance of the Panama Canal to the port of Mobile.

The current bandstand was built in 1941, as a gift to the people of Mobile from Sears Roebuck and Company. Bienville square continues to be a focal point of activity in Mobile.

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(19) 203 Dauphin Street
Scheuermann Building, 1893
Also designed by Rudolph Benz, the two-story dark red brick Victorian structure has a new storefront on the first floor. The second floor contains a central arched window framed by small granite columnettes. The parapet is inscribed with the date 1893.

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(20) 209 Dauphin Street
Mrs. G. T. Turner Building, 1886
The A&M Peanut Company or its predecessor, the Planters Peanut Shop, has been in business since 1947. All nuts are roasted on the premises in a machine dating from 1907. This two-story brick building has second story corner pilasters of dressed and rusticated blocks. The hood mouldings over the windows have an accented keystone and side brackets. The building is capped by a parapet formed of a series of decorative mouldings with a stepped pediment over the central bay. This building was designed by James H. Hutchinsson.

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(21) 210 Dauphin Street
Ann McCaw Building, circa 1885
Designed by Rudolph Benz, the façade of this building has floor length windows with Neoclassical entablatures on scroll brackets and an original cast iron balcony on the second floor.

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(22) 220 Dauphin Street
Abraham Spira Building, 1891
Designed by Rudolph Benz. Although the first floor has been modernized, the second floor still retains the original Victorian detailing such as the slate roof and the small turret over the west bay. This building was originally designed for retail use but it served as a theatre from 1908-1931.

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(23) 222, 224, 226 Dauphin Street
Demouy Building, circa 1879
These three two-story buildings share a common façade. They have all been restored differently, but the paneled architrave, heavy twin scrolled medallions and cornice help to show their common designs.

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(24) 225 Dauphin Street
Sangrouber Van-Antwerp Building, 1899
This building was constructed in 1899 by architect W. H. Hammond. The building is three stories in height and is constructed of brick covered with stucco. The façade is two bays wide, each bay defined by recessed panels which are horizontally scored flanking two pairs of windows on the second level. On the third level, two sets of tripled windows are placed between pilasters which have composite capitals. A contemporary storefront and balcony were added in 1993 after extensive renovation by the micro-brewery to open in the State of Alabama.

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(25) 6-8 South Joachim Street
Saenger Theatre, 1926
Designed by Emil Weil, this two-story grand movie palace incorporates French and Italian Renaissance motifs. The interior features dramatic ornamentation and rich furnishings. Owned and managed by the Centre for Contemporary arts, the theatre offers a variety of theatrical and musical performances and movies throughout the year.

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(26) 270 Dauphin Street
Crown Theatre, circa 1909
The Crown Theatre has recently been renovated. It has a fanciful stucco façade with a broken cornice and curved parapet.

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(27) 15 North Joachim Street
St. Francis Street United Methodist Church, 1895
This brick Victorian church has a prominent square tower at the corner with a pyramidal roof and cross. The structure has large, round-top stained glass windows and a raised sanctuary.

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(28) 255 St. Francis Street
Neville Building, circa 1890
This is a two-story brick townhouse with sidewall entrance and cast iron rail above a bay window.

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(29) 257 St. Francis Street
Joseph Silver House, 1845
This Federal style building with Greek Revival detailing was built in 1845 by Joseph Silver, a master mason practicing in Mobile at the time. Originally the eastern half of a double house, the building has since been divided in its ownership and is visually differentiated from the neighboring building. The main entrance to this three-story brick structure is at the second level and is reached by a cast iron stairway that rises from the sidewalk. The cast iron porch dates from the 1920’s and replaced a wooden one. The main entrance is framed by pilasters and a classic architrave. The shallow cornice is ornamented with a brick dentil course. The building is noted as the office of Dr. George A. Ketchum, the founder of the Bienville Water Works and the man for whom the Bienville Square fountain was named.

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(30) 259 St. Francis Street
Joseph Silver house, 1845 and 1926
This house was built in 1845 as part of a double house. It was altered in 1926 with a design by C.L Hutchisson, Jr. The west elevation was stuccoed and scored to simulate ashlar masonry.

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(31) 7 North Jackson Street
Cavallero House, circa 1835
This two and one-half story brick residence has a second story balcony and a pair of gable dormers.

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(32) 300 Dauphin Street
B.C. Turner Building, circa 1848 and 1905
The west half of this building was completed in 1848 and the east half in 1905. The present Classical Revival façade dates from 1905. The variety of motifs and repetitive bays help to give the building a strong sense of rhythm. The building now houses a residence and several offices.

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(33) 354 Dauphin Street
Sidney Smith Building, 1848
This two-story Federal brick structure has a wooden storefront on the first floor. A modern cast iron gallery was added during a 1994 renovation.

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(34) 356 Dauphin Street
Jacques Chighizola Building, 1858
This two-story brick Federal style building has an original cantilevered iron balcony.

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(35) 358 Dauphin Street
John McGuire Building, 1852
This three-story Federal brick building has a second story with a full cantilevered iron balcony, and the third story cantilever is two bays wide.

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(36) 301 Dauphin Street
Cathedral Square, 1996
The buildings in Cathedral Square were torn down in 1979 to create a public park dominated by the façade of the Cathedral. Only minimal improvements were made at this time. In 1992 plans to further improve the park were developed. The design of the park reflects the basilica floor plan of the Cathedral with a semicircular fountain at one end that can be used as a stage area for concerts and theatrical performances. The implementation of these improvements took place in 1996. The buildings around the square make up the Cathedral Square Arts District.

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(37) 4 South Claiborne Street
Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, 1834-49, 1890, 1895
The Cathedral serves as the seat of the Catholic Archdiocese of Mobile. Dating from 1703 this congregation is the oldest in the Central Gulf Coast region. Designed by Claude Beroujan, the Cathedral is sited on the Colonial burial grounds. Although the cornerstone was laid in 1834, financial problems delayed the start of construction until 1842. The dedication was held on December 5, 1850. Various members of the Hutchisson family of architects also worked on the building: cornice and roof (1849); portico (1872-1890); and towers (1890-1895). The Cathedral features German art glass windows by Adolph Meier, a bronze canopy over the altar, and 14 hand-carved Stations of the Cross. A number of bishops who have served Mobile rest in the crypt under the floor toward the front of the church. The surrounding cast iron fence from Wood and Miltenberger of New Orleans dates from 1860.

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(38) 5 North Claiborne Street
Augustine Meaher House, 1901
A two-story brick townhouse with attached cast iron veranda. The house still has its original fence in front.

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(39) 7 North Claiborne Street
John Dahm House, 1873
A two-story brick townhouse with attached cast iron veranda. The two-story glass and wood addition was constructed in 1929.

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(40) 351 St. Francis Street
Scottish Rite Temple, 1921
Designed by George Rogers, this Egyptian Revival building has stuccoed battered walls and is the only Egyptian Revival building in the city. The entrances are marked by a pair of sphinxes.

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(41) 407 Dauphin Street
Jacques Chighizola Building, circa 1854
This is a Federal style stuccoed brick building with a gabled roof and fire wall.

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(42) 417 Dauphin Street
Maria Crawford Building, 1900
This typical turn-of-the-century Classical Revival commercial building has many interesting details such as corbels with a rosette design, segmental arches, and a fret band which contrasts in color and material with the brick of the main body.

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(43) 454-456 Dauphin Street
Louis Monin Building, circa 1867
This building shows the Italianate influence popular in the Reconstruction era. The first floor has a wood and glass storefront. The upper façade features a dentil course and a paneled parapet with “lights.” The cantilevered balcony was added during a 1997 renovation.

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(44) 7 North Lawrence Street
Washington Firehouse #5, 1851
Built in 1851 at a cost of $5,500, this two-story brick Greek Revival building was constructed to house the privately run Washington Fire Company.

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(45) 522 Dauphin Street
Steele Building, circa 1853
This Federal, two-and-one-half story brick building has an attached cast iron balcony with roof. The balcony and the pair of dormers were added in a 1992 renovation.

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(46) 551 Dauphin Street
Henry Chamberlain Building, circa 1865
This tw0-story brick structure has cast iron columns and segmental arches on the first floor. A second floor canopy wraps around the corner.

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(47) 601-605 Dauphin Street
Wintzell’s Building, 1891
A two-story clapboard structure with decorative brackets supporting the roof overhang. This is the only wooden structure designed for commercial use remaining on Dauphin Street, downtown. Wintzell’s Restaurant has been doing business in this block since 1938.

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(48) 13 North Dearborn Street
Creole Fire House #1, 1872
Designed by James H. Hutchisson, this two-story brick structure with arched central bay and full height second floor windows was built to house the Creole #1 Fire Company. It was the first volunteer fire company in Mobile, founded in 1819 by member’s of Mobile’s Creole community. The fire company was absorbed into the city department in 1888 and finally disbanded in 1970. The Creoles were people of mixed heritage who formed their own schools, churches and social organizations. It is said that the Creole #1 was usually the first to get to the fire because they bought rejected race horses, including Jack, the horse who could follow his nose straight to the fire. Horse drawn equipment was used until 1924. The company remained in the Dearborn Street house until the Central Fire Station was built in 1926.

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(49) 701 St. Francis Street
Central Fire Station, 1926
This is a three-story brick structure with a ceramic tile roof and fire truck bays. The city fire department was created in 1888. Before Central Fire Station was built, the fire companies were privately run operations. The small fire houses still used by the private companies were closed and centralized in the new station.

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(50) 709-711 Dauphin Street
Schumacher Carriage Works
These are a pair of two-story brick buildings, one with an arched carriage bay at the front. Two more carriage entrances were turned into windows as the building’s use changed.

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(51) 755 Dauphin Street
Meaher Building, circa 1930
This is a one-story brick building with five wooden storefronts. The upper façade is detailed with a basketweave of light and dark bricks and a dentil course at the cornice. Now a restaurant, the building once housed a pecan factory and a landscaping business.

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(52) 753 St. Francis Street
A three- and one-half-story stucco structure with a two-story attached porch housed the Convent of Mercy Catholic girl’s school until 1968.

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