Now that it’s absolutely restored, its bluff aflame at night by amethyst and gold lights, the Kennedy-Cox Abode is a animated archetype of celebrated canning on Government Street in burghal Mobile. It’s adamantine to accept that aloof a few years ago this majestic home was an atrocity with boarded-up windows, adverse an ambiguous future.
But acknowledgment to a $2 actor restoration, the home is now a showplace already again. The 1857 Foundation, a nonprofit accumulation formed to acquirement and clean the building, ally with one of Mobile’s best accepted abstruse societies that uses it for its “den.” If you apperceive annihilation about Mardi Gras, you apperceive that the alignment can’t be named.
“It’s the worst-kept abstruse in Mobile,” James Alexander, admiral of the foundation, admits with a laugh. Alike so, he respects the city’s Mardi Gras traditions that go aback added than 300 years and won’t acknowledge the character of the association that now calls the Kennedy-Cox Abode home – but he stresses that the advance couldn’t accept happened after that arresting group.
The transformation is “nothing abbreviate of a miracle,” he says as he gives a bout of the admirable home, which was congenital in 1857 by Joshua Kennedy Jr. His ancestor and brothers were above landowners in Mobile and helped to lay out the streets and authorize the burghal as a bartering aircraft anchorage in the 19th Century. Kennedy didn’t alive there long, though, because he died aloof a few years after in the 1862 Battle of Seven Pines. Over the years, the abode afflicted easily a brace of times and concluded up actuality home to the Seaman’s Bethel and, aback 1948, the American Legion.
Photos on the 1857 Foundation’s website appearance the advance of the assiduous apology of the home. “It’s amazing what occurred in this building,” says Alexander. “It’s a window into the accomplished from an architectural and cultural standpoint and an archetype of how associates of the association can appear calm for preservation.”
The activity has already accustomed three awards. Last April, the Alabama Trust for Celebrated Canning presented the 1857 Foundation its accomplished accolade for rehabilitation of the Kennedy-Cox House, which had been placed on the Alabama Places in Peril account in 2003. It additionally accustomed an architectural accolade from the Celebrated Mobile Canning Society, as able-bodied as the Mobile Celebrated Development Commission’s banderole and shield, advertence that the home was adequate in acquiescence with their guidelines. A new accompaniment actual brand will anon angle out front, cogent the adventure of the house.
Every allotment of the Greek Revival/Italianate anatomy that faces Government Street is original, from the massive two-story columns on the absorbing 40-foot-high balustrade to the angled bifold advanced doors and the wrought-iron fence that’s been adequate to its aboriginal location. Throughout the home, the angled windows affection ornately carved aboriginal lath cornices. The adhesive walls accept been repaired and painted, the dentil abstraction adequate to its aboriginal glory.
Inside, the highlight of the access is the arced lath staircase. Bifold parlors are afar by abridged doors with attenuate bottle panels. Five of the home’s seven fireplaces accept been adequate to their aboriginal grandeur. All of the arresting angled windows were removed, adequate and alternate to their aboriginal frames. Much of the aboriginal bottle has survived the accomplished aeon and a half.
The 1950s-era cinder-block accession in the aback has been adapted so that the exoteric now matches that of the aboriginal house, bottomward to the angled windows. This new amplitude seats 240 people, and the walls buck photos of the abstruse society’s accomplished queens. The basement, an abnormal affection in Mobile, now resembles an old “speakeasy” for the associates of the Mardi Gras organization. The aboriginal brick footings that can be apparent in the basement acknowledge how absolutely the 163-year-old abode was built.
Upstairs, in the landing area, bottle cases affectation some of the abstruse society’s treasures calm over the years. Two bedrooms were accumulated to actualize the President’s Room, which is active by a continued affair table and chairs. The adjoining queen’s bathrobe allowance and ample bath accord the society’s queen a abode to adapt for the anniversary parade.
One of the best accepted and different spaces in the abode is the rooftop terrace, which includes a covered basement breadth and a admirable appearance of the burghal Mobile skyline.
In accession to confined as home to the abstruse society, the abode will abide to be a affair abode for the associates of the Lamar Y. McLeod American Legion Post 3 for the abutting 10 years, at no charge. “One of my admired aspects of the activity is the actuality that we were able to advice veterans in our area,” says Allan Gustin, the project’s advance architecture chairman. “My ancestor was a veteran, and it was mainly this aspect that drew me to the project. It’s a big accord for us to advice them and, absolutely frankly, it’s the appropriate affair to do.”
The abstruse society, the Legion and alike the burghal of Mobile account from the advance of the Kennedy-Cox House. “This is a win-win for everybody,” says Thad Hendrix, an 1857 Foundation lath affiliate who served on the architecture team. “This activity would not accept been accessible after a active and advantageous Mardi Gras anniversary in our community. Mardi Gras is adjourned in ample allotment by clandestine citizens but would not be accessible after our affiliation with the burghal of Mobile.”
The burghal provides badge aegis and army ascendancy for parades abounding by added than a actor people, as able-bodied as the use of the Mobile Civic Center for busy assurance hosted by abstruse societies. “Over the years, Mobile has accomplished aberrant advance in Mardi Gras,” says Hendrix. “Without this partnership, and after the advance in Mardi Gras, this activity would not accept been possible.”
“This affair is bigger than we are,” says Alexander. “It didn’t booty us continued to amount that out. Every amplitude is elegant, every amplitude is unique, and every amplitude tells its own story.”
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