EXPLORING MOBILE’S HISTORY: BATTLE HOUSE HOTEL WITH HISTORIAN GEORGE MOORE | PORT CITY PLATE PODCAST
Exploring the History of Mobile, Alabama and the Battle House Hotel with Historian George Moore
In our latest Port City Plate Podcast episode, we had the pleasure of chatting with George Moore, a long-time employee of the historic Battle House Hotel in Mobile, Alabama. George shared his fascinating stories and experiences from his childhood, his first job, and the many changes he has witnessed in the city and the hotel itself. Read on to discover George’s captivating tales and insights into the Battle House Hotel’s rich history.
George grew up near Warren St. and St. Louis Street in Mobile, eventually moving to St. Anthony. His childhood was filled with fun memories, playing football and baseball in the side yard. He even recalled a time when his family tried to raise chickens in their backyard due to expensive eggs during wartime. Despite their efforts, they only ended up with a few hens and a fighting rooster.
First Job and Journey to the Battle House:
George’s first job was at Constantine’s as a dishwasher. Initially, he tried to work at the Battle House, but found the heavy pots too much for him. In 1958, while working another job, George started working banquets at the Battle House to earn extra money. He would serve tables during lunch breaks, quickly adapting to guests’ varying preferences.
Mobile in the 1950s:
In the 1950s, Mobile was a bustling city. Downtown was thriving with stores, a busy port, and shipbuilding and repair industries. The Battle House Hotel itself had remained largely unchanged since 1908, after the original hotel burnt down.
The Battle House Hotel History:
The hotel’s history dates back to the 1850s when Mobile was the 10th richest city in the United States. The Battle House Hotel became popular among visitors, thanks to its private bathing facilities and hot water. The hotel hosted various parties and balls, which were attended by notable figures such as Woodrow Wilson and Elvis Presley.
Mystic Societies and Balls:
George’s first ball at the Battle House was the New Year’s Eve ball in 1958. He fondly remembered the elegant Camellia Ball, where young ladies in camellia-inspired colors would descend a candlelit stairway.
Downtown’s Decline and the Hotel’s Rebirth:
As malls opened in west Mobile and Brookley Field closed, downtown Mobile experienced a decline, and the Battle House Hotel closed in the 1970s. The hotel was saved from demolition by Dr. Wallace of Springhill Hospital, and it was reopened in 2007.
The Battle House Hotel has its share of ghost stories. One tale involves a woman who hung herself in the Crystal Ballroom in 1910. In another, a man was set up and killed by a woman’s husband, with the ghost of the man said to haunt the hotel’s fifth floor.
Whispering Arch and Other Curiosities:
The hotel also features the “whispering arch wall,” where people can whisper from one end and be heard on the other. In the past, reporters and kids would use this wall to listen in on conversations or share secrets from the wall. Take a look for yourself on our LoDa Stroll tour!
The Hotel’s Role in Mobile’s Economy and Race Relations:
Our conversation with George also touched on the Battle House Hotel’s role in the local economy and how race relations have evolved over time. The hotel has always been an important part of Mobile’s economic landscape, and its history is intertwined with the city’s cultural and social fabric.
World-Class Spa, Beautiful Architecture, and the Trellis Room Restaurant:
The Battle House Hotel is known for its stunning architecture and world-class spa facilities, which George discussed during our conversation. He also shared his favorite dishes from the hotel’s Trellis Room restaurant, providing a glimpse into the hotel’s culinary delights.
Our engaging and informative podcast episode with George Moore is a must-listen for anyone interested in the history and charm of Mobile, Alabama, and the Battle House Hotel. Join us on this journey through time as we explore the fascinating stories and experiences shared by George, offering a unique perspective on the hotel’s past and present. Don’t miss out – listen to the episode today!