The Gorgas House provides a place to learn about The University of Alabama’s history, a space for campus engagement, and a home for our student communities, but it is also a beautiful vista. Visitors to the university often stop by to walk the grounds, see the gardens and take in the stately columns.
William Nichols, an English-born architect who worked for the State of Alabama designing and building many structures throughout the state, including the university’s original campus, designed the Gorgas House in the Lowcountry Cottage style. This style originated in the late 1700s along the coast of the Carolinas. The House’s architecture changed several times, first in the 1850s with the addition of the portico and rear covered porch, bedroom, and sleeping porch, and again in the 1890s with the expansion of the portico with its four columns and three arches.
The beauty and history of the home draw guests to tour the museum, attend public programs, and host various types of events, but it also serves as an attractive backdrop for all sorts of media. Just this week, during a digitization project of past promotional material, we discovered the Gorgas House on the cover of UA’s 1964-1965 faculty, staff, and student directory. Not only have the gardens and trees changed, but the brick wall that surrounded the home as early as the 1930s is pictured. The university removed it during a restoration project in the early 2000s and restored the cisterns at Marrs Spring with the bricks. Now, a protective white picket fence encircles the home and provides a more historically accurate interpretation that matches the museum’s period of interpretation (roughly 1880-1910).
Keep your eyes peeled for the Gorgas House in other UA media. You never know when you’ll see it!
– Written by Brandon Thompson, Director of the Gorgas House Museum