Montgomery’s Historic Districts
“Montgomery’s first neighborhoods were small antebellum enclaves built by wealthy planters and merchants who wanted town houses close to bustling downtown Montgomery. By the 1900s, these neighborhoods consisted of large spacious homes featuring the architectural styles ranging from the classic Southern pillared mansions to Victorian homes with turrets and towers. Unfortunately, most of these neighborhoods can be seen only in photographs, as they have been replaced by government buildings, businesses, or the interstate. A few of the homes still stand and serve as offices or museums. Several, such as the First White House of the Confederacy (Confederate president, Jefferson Davis’s home while the Confederate capitol was Montgomery) and the Figh-Pickett House (home of Albert Pickett, Alabama’s first historian) were saved by moving them to new locations.”
Cottage Hill is Montgomery’s first and oldest local historic district. The residential area was planned in the 1830s by Edward Hanrick, a land speculator known as “Horseshoe Ned.” The most common architectural styles are Victorian town houses and cottages that date from 1870 to 1910. Cottage Hill is a locally designated historic district and also listed in the National Register of Historic Places. For more information, visit their website here.
The Old Line Street neighborhood was Montgomery’s southern city limit until the 1880s. Part of the neighborhood borders Cottage Hill. The main street is West Jeff Davis Avenue. The area’s architectural styles range from cottages to modified Victorians. The neighborhood is currently at risk.
Highland Park, dubbed Montgomery’s first streetcar suburb, was platted in 1887—the same year the city’s entire streetcar system converted to electricity. The shared date is not coincidental. Edwin Joseph, the president of Montgomery’s electric trolley system, knew the development would increase demand for the trolley. Seeing a win-win opportunity, he became a land speculator for HIghland Park. A blue-collar community, the houses are of vernacular Victorian design. Highland Avenue in Highland Park is a locally designated historic district.
Cloverdale was planned as early as 1887 as a separate city.. Starting in 1908, the Cloverdale Homes Development Company substantially increased building. The variety of home styles includes arts and crafts, neoclassical, and Spanish Mission. In addition to houses, the neighborhood included churches, schools, a business district, Montgomery Country Club, and what is now Huntingdon College. Cloverdale is a locally designated historic district, and a part of it is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. For more information, visit their website here.
The Garden District, a name given later to the area, was platted into lots, and homes were built as early as the 1870s and continued up to the 1930s. Styles featured an eclectic mix, including bungalows, Tudors, Italianate-influence, Colonial, and Neoclassical Revivals. One of the most popular and well-known examples of the later style is the Alabama Governor’s Mansion. The Garden District is a locally designated district and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. For more information, visit their website here.
Centennial Hill became the most prosperous African American neighborhood Montgomery between 1904 and 1908. The styles of residential architecture in Centennial Hill ranged from shotgun houses to modified Victorians. The neighborhood also featured schools, churches, and businesses. The most famous residence in Centennial Hill is the parsonage for the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church on South Jackson Street, Dr. Martin Luther King’s home while he was pastor of the church.
Capitol Heights was incorporated in 1908 as a separate city from Montgomery, Most of the homes were built form 1908 to the 1920s in craftsman, bungalows, Colonial Revival, and other style combinations. Much of the neighborhood is a locally designated historic district. For more information, visit their website here.
Idlewild, also known as “Cloverdale Idlewild,” was developed late considering its closeness to Cloverdale, but by 1937, homes were being built. Many of the homes built in the 1920s and 1930s were from plans in pattern books. Cloverdale Idlewild is a locally designated historic district. For more information, visit their website here.
Information provided by Montgomery’s Historic Neighborhoods, Images of America by Carole A. King and Karren I. Pell.