1906 Springhill Avenue
Mobile, AL 36607
The Bragg-Mitchell Mansion
John Bragg was born near Warrenton, North Carolina. He graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1824, where he studied law. He was admitted to the bar in 1830 and moved to Mobile in 1836, where he continued the practice of law. He was appointed judge to Alabama's 10th Judicial Circuit in 1842, later leaving that post after being elected to the 32nd United States Congress. He bought the property at 1906 Springhill Avenue on 10 May 1855 for the sum of $7500 and began construction of the house that continues to stand there today. The Bragg-Mitchell Mansion is a 13,000 square foot Greek Revival work of art. Judge Bragg built the home for his wife and family to enjoy Mobile’s social season, Thanksgiving through Mardi Gras. The Bragg family split their time between the Mansion and their cotton plantation in Lowndes County outside of Montgomery.
Two notable events in the history of the mansion occurred during the American Civil War. The first was the cutting of all of the live oak trees on the property to give the Confederate defenders of Mobile free range to shell any approaching Union troops. The second event was the removal of all of the furnishings from the mansion during the war to Bragg's plantation in Lowndes County. That plantation and all of the furnishings were subsequently burned when Wilson's Raiders went through that area, the irony being that Mobile itself never became a battleground as had been anticipated. John Bragg died in Mobile on 10 August 1878 and was interred in Magnolia Cemetery.
The house remained in the Bragg family until 1880 when it was bought by William H. Pratt. John's brother, Confederate General Braxton Bragg, is often credited with owning the property after John Bragg's death, but this is not the case. He was a frequent guest at the house during John Bragg's lifetime and he did live on the property for a short time after the Civil War, while supervising the construction of jetties at the mouth of Mobile Bay, however. The property passed through the Upham, Davis, and Wingate families before it was purchased by the last private owner of the Mansion, the A.S. Mitchell family, who purchased the home and property in 1931 for $20,000. They occupied the Mansion until 1965 and took great care in maintaining the home. It was during this time that the Mansion became such an icon of the City of Mobile.
Bragg-Mitchell Mansion was generously donated to the Explore Center by the A.S. Mitchell foundation in the late 1970s to be the home of an interactive science museum. Instead of adapting the home for this purpose and potentially destroying the historic integrity of the Mansion, The Explore Center built a separate science museum, The Gulf Coast Exploreum, and began work to restore the Mansion to its antebellum grandeur.
The Bragg-Mitchell Mansion was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972. After $3 million in renovations, the home was opened to the public in 1987 and now serves as the preferred location for community wedding receptions, corporate dinners and historic home tours.
It is run by the Bragg-Mitchell Mansion 501(c)3 group. The long-term goal of the group is to restore the building, grounds, and furnishings to reflect lifestyles of previous owners.
The house is two-stories and built on a T-shaped plan. The architecture is in the Greek Revival style with tall, spindly columns that are derivative of the Doric order around a three-sided veranda. The bracketed cornice indicates some Italianate influence, a fusion of stylistic elements that some have dubbed a "bracketed Greek Revival". It contains fourteen rooms, with seven of those being bedrooms. The ground floor features 15-foot ceilings.
source: The Bragg-Mitchell Mansion 501(c)3www.braggmitchellmansion.com; Gamble, Robert Historic architecture in Alabama: a guide to styles and types, 1810-1930, page 78. Tuscaloosa, Alabama: The University of Alabama Press, 1990