RETURN TO MUSEUM LOBBY

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Ashland: Domestic Bliss

The house known as Ashland, which burned in 1926, was three miles west of Mobile’s business district, bordered by Springhill Avenue and Old Shell Road.  Lorenzo Wilson bought 40 acres of land there in 1844 and built the house for his first wife, Sarah Chandler.  Fidler tells us that although the house was described as Greek Revival, it was more of a ‘raised cottage’ typical of Mobile, with it principal entrances on the second floor and the ground floor used for kitchen needs and storage.

It became a major showplace in Mobile, with its live oaks planted by Colonel Wilson in the 1840s and its expansive gardens.   The front and back entrances to the house were lined with fluted columns bordering a verandah.   A wide hall ran from front to back, with eight rooms leading off the hall.  After Lorenzo died in 1891, Augusta moved out of the house, telling friends she could not bear to live in a house that reminded of her of the happy life she’d had with her husband.   According to Fidler, she had asked Lorenzo to leave the house to his children.   Augusta purchased a town house on Government Street and lived out the rest of her years with her brother Howard until his death in 1908, one year prior to her own demise.

Ashland was sold in 1907 and the grounds were subdivided into lots.   A number of spacious homes were built over the following years.   The old house remained vacant, with tourists allowed to walk through the house on occasion, until it burned to the ground eighty-two years after it was built.