You are here

Gorgas House

-A A +A
1828–1829, William Nichols. 810 Capstone Dr.
  • (Photograph by Jeffrey Reed, CC BY-SA 3.0)

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.

Writing Credits

Robert O. Mellown
Robert Gamble



  • 1828


What's Nearby


Robert O. Mellown, "Gorgas House", [Tuscaloosa, Alabama], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

If SAH Archipedia has been useful to you, please consider supporting it.

SAH Archipedia tells the story of the United States through its buildings, landscapes, and cities. This freely available resource empowers the public with authoritative knowledge that deepens their understanding and appreciation of the built environment. But the Society of Architectural Historians, which created SAH Archipedia with University of Virginia Press, needs your support to maintain the high-caliber research, writing, photography, cartography, editing, design, and programming that make SAH Archipedia a trusted online resource available to all who value the history of place, heritage tourism, and learning.

, ,