The Gorgas House—the University of Alabama’s oldest building and the only surviving structure from architect William Nichols’s original master plan—was built in 1828–1829 as “Steward’s Hall.” It consists of a small, two-story brick structure (front and sides Flemish bond), with four interior end chimneys, plus a frame addition at the rear. The five-bay facade originally featured a small, two-story, single bay porch whose arched brick base led to a ground floor student dining hall. Curving stone steps led up to the second story containing the residence of the steward and his family. It was supported by Doric columns and its low pitched roof was obscured by a parapet. The porch was enlarged and reconfigured in 1896 with the addition of extra bays on either side of the central bay. The curving stone steps were reused, and additional cast-iron railings were ordered to match the older railings that had been put in place in 1853.
The school stopped using the building as a steward’s hall and dining room in 1847 and the upper floor was repurposed as a professor’s house. During the antebellum period, the former dining room on the ground floor was used as the resident professor’s classroom.
The house became associated with the Gorgas family in 1879. General Josiah Gorgas was former Confederate chief of ordnance who served as the seventh president of the University of Alabama. After Gorgas resigned his presidency due to ill health, he assumed the duties of university librarian and he and his family moved into the house. After his death in 1883, his wife, Amelia Gayle Gorgas, took over as librarian and she and her daughters (who also eventually worked in the library) continued to live in the residence. The house is now a museum containing artifacts associated with the early history of the university and with the Gorgas family.
Mellown, Robert Oliver. The University of Alabama: A Guide to the Campus and its Architecture. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2013.