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MHDC ENews: January 2010                             Volume 2 Number 1
With the beginning of every new year, new challenges and new opportunities arise. 
This year is no different.
The Mobile Historic Development Commission is beginning 2010 with a 'call to action.'  Preservationists are asked to stand up for our historic neighborhoods by showing your support for the Architectural Review Boards decision to deny the design of a proposed gas station and convenience store in Oakleigh, one of our most populated and most significant historic districts.  This project is going to be a benchmark case study for historic preservation in Mobile.  If the decision is upheld by the City Council in the appeal process, it will protect the integrity of neighborhoods in historic districts throughout the city for decades to come.  If the decision is overturned, it leaves all neighborhoods vulnerable to inappropriate design and growth; and gives developers carte blanche to build whatever they like, where ever they like.  Now is the time to stand up for our historic neighborhoods and the quality of life issues that make them so special. 
As we move forward in 2010, we will continue our fight to preserve the fabric of our historic city, support preservation issues on a state-wide level, and keep you abreast of the national historic preservation movement.  
And as always, we hope that you will share our ENews with your family and friends who enjoy and support historic preservation.  Please feel free to pass along this electronic publication and encourage everyone to subscribe.  It is our hope that this communication tool will help keep our community updated on preservation issues and special events.
A Call to Action
The Architectural Review Board has denied the design plans for the Texaco service station and convenience store that is being proposed for construction at the corner of Broad Street and Elmira Street, located in the Oakleigh Garden Historic District.  The Architectural Review Board found that the project was an impairment to the historic integrity of the neighborhood and denied application based on its impact on the district including site plan and scale.  It was noted that the plan was not in accordance with the "New Plan for Old Mobile" and that it would have an adverse impact on the "Bring Back Broad" initiative.

Marvin Hewatt Enterprises, along with their attorney, Douglas Anderson, a former Mobile Planning Commission member, is appealing this decision to the City Council.  The City Council will hear the appeal on January 26, at 10:30 a.m., during the regularly scheduled City Council meeting. 
Members of the Oakleigh Garden District Society are asking all concerned neighbors and preservationists to attend this meeting to show support for the ARB's decision to deny this application.  Oakleigh Garden Historic District residents have presented a petition to Mayor Jones and the City Council expressing their opposition to the construction of the proposed business. 
Members of the Church Street East Historic District have also joined the fight to block this project.  
The Mobile Historic Development Commission has passed a resolution in support of the Architectural Review Board's decision to deny this project, and are in full support of the ARB.  The resolution will be read during the appeal hearing.
A spokesperson from the Oakleigh Garden District Society stressed that "if this project is allowed to proceed, it would set a precedent and impact all our historic neighborhoods for years to come."
The MHDC is asking that all concerned citizens attend the City Council meeting for the appeal hearing to show support for the denial of this construction project.
Alabama School for Math and Science Fence Update

On Tuesday, December 15, Councilman William Carroll hosted an informal meeting in the City Council's conference room to discuss the chain link fence at the Alabama School for Math and Science.  Present, along with representatives of the School, were neighbors, MHDC staff members, and Rennie Brabner, representing the Commission.  The meeting was held to discuss the interim report that will be presented to the Architectural Review Board at the January 20 meeting. 


At the meeting it was explained to the School that the ARB required a plan of action by the School for the eventual removal of the fence.  There would also need to eventually be a design for whatever replaces the chain link.  Several of the attendees suggested to the School that this should be viewed as an opportunity to create an overall landscaping and fencing plan for the parking lot. 


In November, the ARB granted the School a Certificate of Economic Hardship that is valid for 120 days.  If the School wishes to renew the Certificate, it must reapply at the March 17 meeting.  The ARB required that any application for an extension must be accompanied by a plan to eventually remove the fence.  The interim report, due in January, should give the Board some indication of the School's intentions.

ARB at a Glance
The Architectural Review Board is continuing to work hard to protect our historic districts.  Here is a look at their body of work for the first quarter of this fiscal year.
Total Applications                         October    November    December
Applications Approved by Staff              41               26                 15
Applications Reviewed by ARB              21                8                   5  
Applications Approved by ARB              16                6                   3 
Applications Tabled by ARB                    0                0                   1
Applications Denied by ARB                   2                1                   1   
Applications Withdrawn                          3                1                   0
Applications in Design Committee           0                0                   0
Applications Appealed                            1                0                   0
Applicants estimate the proposed job costs for renovations and improvement to homes and buildings in districts, under the Architectural Review Board's jurisdiction, will cost an estimated $8,696,330.  
For more information on the Architectural Review Board, and for a schedule of meetings, please visit the MHDC website at
Area Architects Honored for Community Service
This past month the American Institute of Architects bestowed the Citizen Architect Award on several members of the Mobile Historic Development Commission and the Architectural Review Board in recognition for their service to our community.  The MHDC would like to congratulate this group of talented community-minded professionals, and thank them for the hours of volunteer time they so generously give to Mobile's historic preservation movement.
L. Craig Roberts - Architectural Review Board
Michael Mayberry - Architectural Review Board
Tom Karwinski - Architectural Review Board
David Barr - Architectural Review Board   
Nick H. Homes III - Mobile Historic Development Commission and the Mobile Planning Commission
David Tharp - Mobile Historic Development Commission
Douglas B. Kearley - Mobile Historic Development Commission and Historic Mobile Preservation Society
Field Day to be Conducted by Renown Professor
Dr. Neal Norman, history professor, College of William and Mary, will be conducting a Field Day on Sunday, January 17 from 1:00 p.m. until 3:30 p.m. at the Plateau Cemetery in the heart of AfricaTown.  Dr. Norman, along with a traveling team of students, will be demonstrating hands-on techniques used for archeological digs.
Dr. Norman is a highly regarded academic whose special field of study is connecting the Africans of the coast of Benin to the United States.  His interest in AfricaTown will examine the connection between the African culture, the United States and the slave routes of trade. 
Field Day is a collaboration between the Museum of Mobile and The African American Heritage Trail in conjunction with the Mobile Historic Development Commission.
Plateau Cemetery is located at Bay Bridge Road and Cut Off Road.  For more information call the MHDC office at 208-7281. 
MHDC to be a part of Engaging the Next Generation
Engaging the Next Generation, a showcase of community-based organizations, will be held at Space 301 on Thursday, January 21, from 6:30 p.m. until 8:30 p.m.  The Mobile Historic Development Commission, together with its Restore Mobile and Oakleigh Venture Revolving Funds, will have a booth and give out information about neighborhood revitalization in Mobile.  The event is a great way for area young professionals to meet one-on-one with non-profits and charitable organizations and others who want to make a difference in the Mobile area. 
Event sponsors are Mobile County Commissioner Merceria Ludgood, in partnership with Mobile United, Mobile Arts Council, Volunteer Mobile, Centre for the Living Arts and Mobile Bay Young Professionals, LLC.
Real Estate Open House features Historic Lofts and Condos
The Association of Realtors, under the leadership of Dauphin Realty, will be hosting an Open House in downtown on Sunday afternoon, January 24.  The Open House will feature condos, lofts, and townhouses.  Manyof the residential developments are in historic buildings that have been retro-fitted to accommodate today's living.  If you've always wanted to take a peek inside one of downtown's newest residential developments, this is your opportunity.   The Open House is free of charge and the public is invited to attend.
Preservation Leadership Class to begin in March
The Mobile Historic Development Commission will be offering our very popular Preservation Leadership Class again this spring.  Classes begin on Tuesday, March 9 and continue every Tuesday for six weeks.  Registration fee is $50 for the class.  The class will include an overview of the historic architecture of Mobile, a session on the guidelines used by the Architectural Review Board, guest speakers and a 'hammer and nails' tour of a restoration project that is currently underway. 
If you are interested in participating in this class, call now.  Space is limited to 35 people.  Deadline for registration is February 19.
For more information call the MHDC office at 208-7281, or visit our website at
Alabama Trust on Facebook
For all of you who are addicted to Facebook, the Alabama Trust for Historic Preservation has a group site on Facebook.  If you haven't joined - do!  It's full of interesting information.  I love the Today in Alabama History entries by David Walker.  There is also an event listing that includes preservation related events throughout the state.  Right now there is an article on Useful Tips for Weatherizing Older Homes and Building that many new historic homeowners may find interesting.  
Pillars of the Community available for purchase at MHDC office
John Sledge Book
If you haven't had an opportunity to purchase John Sledge's newest book, The Pillared City: Greek Revival Mobile, you still can.  Copies of the book can be purchased through the MHDC office.  For more information, call 208-7981.   
The Pillared City: Greek Revival Mobile is the third book written and photographed by the talented team of John Sledge, our architectural historian, and local photographer, Sheila Hagler.  The duo have collaborated on two previous books, Cities of Silence, A Guide to Mobile's Historic Cemeteries, published in 2002; and An Ornament to the City, Old Mobile Ironwork, published in 2006. 
Calendar of Events
Old Dauphin Way Historic District
January 28 - Annual Meeting, 7:00 p.m., St. Mary's School
February 25 - General Meeting, 7:00 p.m., St. Mary's School
March 25 - General Meeting, 7:00 p.m., St. Mary's School
Leinkauph Historic District Neighborhood Association
January 18 - Neighborhood Association Meeting, 6:30 p.m., First Christian Church 
2010 Mobile Historic Homes Tour
The Historic Mobile Preservation Society has announced the dates for this year's Mobile Historic Homes Tour.  Mark your calendar for Friday, March 19 and Saturday, March 20, 2010, when some of Mobile's most lovely historic homes will open their doors for this spring tradition.  Plans are also in the works for some exciting new additions to this year's Tour.  Among the new activities being offered are: guided tours of Church Street Cemetery, a presentation on Mobile's architectural history by award-winning architect Craig Roberts followed by a champagne reception, and afternoon teas. 
If you would like to volunteer on this year's Historic Homes Tour committee, or if you are interested in sponsorship information, please contact Rhonda Davis, chair, at 342-2613.   
Proceeds from the Mobile Historic Homes Tour benefit the Historic Mobile Preservation Society and Oakleigh.    

To submit events, please forward information to Mobile Historic Development Commission at  Please include contact information. 
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Rhonda Davis
Public Relations Chair
Mobile Historic Development Commission
In This Issue
ARB appeal for gas station to go to City Council
Update on the Alabama School of Math and Science Fence
ARB at a Glance
Area Architects Honored for Commuity Service
Field Day to be Conducted in AfricaTown by Renown History Professor
MHDC to participate in Engaging the Next Generation
Real Estate Open House features Lofts, Condos and Townhouses in Historic Buildings
Preservation Leadership Class to begin in March
Alabama Trust on Facebook
Pillars of the Community to Open with Barton Fundraiser
Calendar of Events
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