Photographs Of Historic Architecture in Tuscaloosa, Alabama

Historic Architecture in Tuscaloosa, Alabama

Here at Toulmin Cabinetry and Design, we call Tuscaloosa home. We're raising our families here, rooting for the Tide, and supporting our community. We love the history of our city, and how it's reflected in the architecture that surrounds us every day. 

From the magnificent Italianate Jemison-Van de Graaff Mansion, to the President’s Mansion on the Campus at the University of Alabama,, Tuscaloosa is home to some of the most architecturally interesting and historically significant buildings in the south. Here are some of our favorites.

A List of Tuscaloosa, Alabama’s Beautiful Buildings

Tuscaloosa has a long history that is reflected in the many outstanding structures spread throughout our community. These six examples are some of our favorites.

The Jemison-Van de Graaf Mansion, 1305 Greensboro Ave

The Jemison-Van de Graaf Mansion was named after the man who built it, Senator Robert Jemison Jr., This beautiful Italianate house was constructed between 1859 and 1862 and was one of the most technologically sophisticated buildings of its time. The original structure was built as Sen. Jemison's townhouse and included a gas plant to provide illumination and the city's first fully plumbed bathroom.

Famed Philadelphia architect John Stewart and his partner Samuel Sloan were the designers of the home and are also well known locally as the designers of Bryce Hospital. Left incomplete when the Civil War erupted, many of the home's finishing touches were left undone until after the war. Most of the materials used in construction came from Jemison's extensive plantations with the majority of the work performed by skilled slaves under the supervision of some of Philadelphia's finest craftsmen.

It remained a private home until 1955, the home was sold and became a library, then the offices of a publishing house, and finally a historic house museum. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on April 19th, 1972, thanks to its architectural significance.

The Battle-Friedman House, 1010 Greensboro Ave.

The Battle-Friedman house was built in 1835 by Alfred Battle, a North Carolina businessman who moved to Tuscaloosa in 1821. It's property's original footprint encompassed a full city block and consisted of the main house and several outbuildings. Its original design included two front parlors, a central hallway and the rooms above. The classic columned porch and rooms at the back of the house were added prior to the Civil War.

In 1875 the house was bought from the Battles by Hungarian immigrant and local merchant, Bernard Friedman. It stayed in the Friedman family until the death of Hugo Friedman in 1965 when it was willed to the city of Tuscaloosa, and is currently operated by the Tuscaloosa County Preservation Society.

The home's exterior is stucco over brick painted to resemble red marble. The front porch features distinctive, classic Tuscaloosa styled paneled square columns. The interior of the house is full of elaborate plasterwork from the period which decorates the walls and ceilings throughout the front parlors and hallway. Most is original to the house, but the hallway features a distinctive art deco nasturtium frieze in the hallways which were added by the Friedman family in the early 20th century.

The Old Tavern, 500 28th Ave.

A fixture in downtown Tuscaloosa since the capital era, The Old Tavern was built by Innkeeper William Dunton in 1827. Originally located three blocks from where it currently stands, the Old Tavern was a tavern and hotel on the stagecoach route that passed through Tuscaloosa.

It's one of the few remaining 19th century inns left in Alabama and provides visitors with a rare glimpse into early Tuscaloosa commercial architecture. During its time as an Inn it was a temporary home and meeting place for legislators, Confederate soldiers, and countless visitors to the city. From 1831-1835 it was the temporary home of Governor John Gayle.

It functioned as a private home from 1882 until 1964 when the Tuscaloosa County Preservation Society acquired the deed. It was relocated to Capital Park and today is a museum that showcases the early history of Tuscaloosa County.

The Queen City Pool and Bathhouse, Queen City Ave and Jack Warner Parkway

Designed by Don Buel Schulyer, the apprentice of Frank Lloyd Wright, the Queen City Pool operated from 1943 through 1989. Constructed as a part of the WPA relief project during the Great Depression, it features a poured concrete bathhouse, a wading pool, and an art deco fountain.

On September 9, 1992, the Queen Pool House was added to the National Register of Historic Places due to its historic and architectural significance. Today, the bathhouse is the home of the Mildred Westervelt Warner Transportation Museum which exhibits the history of transportation in Tuscaloosa.

The Drish House, 2300 17th Street

This historic plantation house is considered by preservationist to be one of the finest examples of the blending of Greek Revival and Italianate styles in the state. Designated part of the Historic American Building Survey in 1934, it was added to the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage in 1975, and subsequently added to the States “Places in Peril” listings in 2006.”

This large stuccoed brick mansion was originally built in 1837 for Dr. John Drish, one of the earliest settlers of Tuscaloosa. Drish settled in 1822, and in 1835 married the wealthy widow Sarah Owen McKinney and construction began. By that time, Drish was a successful physician and worked as a building contractor with many skilled slave artisans who executed much of the early plasterwork throughout Tuscaloosa.

The original exterior of the house was completed in 1837 and featured full-width Doric porticos on the front and rear with two-story pilasters dividing each bay on all four sides. Extensively remodeled in the Italianate style just before the Civil War, the three-story brick tower was added, the front columns were changes to Ionic order, brackets were added to the eaves and overhangs, and two-story cast iron side porches were added to each side.

The President’s Mansion, University of Alabama

This historic Greek Revival style mansion is located on the Campus of the University of Alabama and has served as the official residence of university presidents since it was completed in 1841. The President’s Mansion narrowly avoiding destruction during the Civil War and today is one of the oldest buildings on campus. It was added to the National Registry of Historic Places in 1972 due to its architectural and historic significance.

The three-story stuccoed brick building features a high arcuated ground floor. The stucco on the front level giving the appearance of ashlar. The two upper floors are accessed by a centrally placed double staircase and the front facade is five bays wide with the two principal floors fronted by a hexastyle portico utilizing the Ionic order. The structure has been renovated numerous time throughout its history with the largest changes happening more than 160 years after it was first completed.

A Small Taste of Tuscaloosa Architecture

These six buildings are just a small example of the architectural splendor of our fair city. Here at Toulmin Cabinetry and Design, we appreciate the history and architecture that make Tuscaloosa such a beautiful city. With its long history, Tuscaloosa is a city that embraces its past while looking forward into the 21st century

Whether you live in a historic home, or just want to create the home of your dreams, the experts at Toulmin can help you to achieve your creative vision. If you're planning a remodeling project, contact us today and let us help you create tomorrow's classic home, today!

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