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Mobile Alabama Walking Tour
Item 15 of 23
Constructed in 1834 and located adjacent to the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, the Bishop Portier House serves as a central landmark to Catholic history in Mobile. The home was built to house the new Bishop of Mobile Michael Portier who was also responsible for the founding of Spring Hill College and the development of Catholic architecture in Mobile. The cottage served as the place of rest for Bishops of Mobile until 1906 when the building began being rented as a residential family building. The Bishop Portier House was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1970 and features many elements of Gulf Coast residential architecture.

Photo of the Bishop Portier House as it appeared in 2009

Photo of the Bishop Portier House as it appeared in 2009

Photo of the Bishop Portier House circa 1936 as part of the Historic American Buildings Survey

Photo of the Bishop Portier House circa 1936 as part of the Historic American Buildings Survey

This home was originally built to serve as a residence for the new Bishop of Mobile, Michael Portier. Portier was born in France in the town of Montbrison on September 7,1795. Portier volunteered to be a missionary for service in Louisiana and was ordained in St. Louis on September 29th, 1818. Eventually, Portier would find his way to present-day Mobile, Alabama in December, 1826 where he served as the Bishop of Mobile. In 1830, Portier founded the Spring Hill College and in 1833 he founded the Visitation Convent and Academy of Mobile.

This home was constructed in 1834, eight years after Portier had first arrived in Mobile, by Claude Beroujon. Beroujon was Portiers’ nephew and also part of Portiers’ entourage as a seminarian architect. Construction of the ten-room cottage had cost around $7,000. The cottage was built in the Gulf Coast tradition of the time, featuring the aesthetic of mixing several contemporary styles of architecture along with a gable roof. Notable in its construction is the French influence from Beroujon in the form of casement windows in the cottage.   

Over the course of the home’s early life, the cottage served as a residence to five bishops. After over 70 years of service to the Diocese of Mobile, the cottage was sold and became a residential family home. As the nation prepared for World War I, the home served as the location of a United Services Organization building from 1914-1945 and would eventually be restored as a residence once again in 1958. On January 4th, 1970, the Portier House was added to the National Register of Historic Places. In recent years, the Portier House has served as a historical site and Catholic Parish office that includes a collection of historic artifacts on display.

Sledge, John. Historic Roman Catholic Properties in Mobile, Alabama, 1858-1928, National Register of Historic Places. September 14th 1993. Accessed November 9th 2020. https://npgallery.nps.gov/NRHP/AssetDetail?assetID=64e0a0d0-e8d3-4891-87e3-a5078a37599c.

Floyd, W. Warner. Bishop Portier House, National Register of Historic Places. February 26th 1970. Accessed November 9th 2020. https://npgallery.nps.gov/NRHP/AssetDetail?assetID=0273f115-bfca-4584-88ef-764170cb9534.

Archdiocese of Mobile. History, Portier House. January 1st 2016. Accessed November 9th 2020. http://www.portierhouse.org/wt/client/v2/story/WT_Story.cfm?SecKey=91.

The Portier House, Portier House Brochure. Accessed November 9th 2020. https://www.mobilecathedral.org/cms/images/Portier_House_Brochure1.pdf.

Image Sources(Click to expand)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Bishop_Portier_House_Mobile.jpg

https://loc.gov/pictures/item/al0541/