The Pillared City

Greek Revival Mobile

John S. Sledge

Photographs by Sheila Hagler

Title Details

Pages: 184

Illustrations: 87 b&w photos, 2 figures

Trim size: 8.500in x 11.000in



Pub Date: 09/25/2009

ISBN: 9-780-8203-3020-4

List Price: $47.95

The Pillared City

Greek Revival Mobile

John S. Sledge

Photographs by Sheila Hagler

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  • Description
  • Reviews
  • Awards

In The Pillared City, John S. Sledge presents a richly illustrated overview of the Greek Revival period in Mobile, Alabama (1825–70), when high style and vernacular columned buildings were erected on the city’s streets.

Using a wealth of resources such as deeds and diaries, Sledge reveals the architectural accomplishments that helped Mobile emerge from its position as a rustic backwater to become a prominent international seaport. Sledge explains how these buildings reflect coastal and national trends and details the surprisingly advanced construction techniques required of the architects and builders.

Sledge offers more than an architectural history, incorporating stories such as how the triple blows of bankruptcy, yellow fever, and fire nearly obliterated Mobile in 1839. The eventful histories behind prominent landmarks such as Barton Academy, Government Street Presbyterian Church, Christ Episcopal Church, Oakleigh, Stewartfield, Georgia Cottage, and the Bragg-Mitchell Mansion are detailed, as are the lives of historical figures like Henry Hitchcock, James and Charles Dakin, James Gallier, Signor Vito Viti, John Trenier Sr., and Augusta Jane Evans.

Featuring more than fifty-five contemporary black-and-white photographs by Sheila Hagler and a rich array of historical images, The Pillared City captures the grace and allure of Mobile’s antebellum style.

John Sledge's writing style is reminiscent of those delicious architectural pieces that Brendan Gill used to do for the New Yorker. He knows his history, tells good stories, and makes the buildings and their builders come alive. This is a very distinguished book.

—Winston Groom

This much-needed book promises to be an instant classic. Both journalist and historian, Sledge uncovers fascinating new details about Greek Revival, that uniquely beautiful style. He goes far beyond architecture, using his effortless prose to craft a vivid social history of the antebellum city.

—W. Barksdale Maynard, School of Architecture, Princeton University

The pages of The Pillared City suggest not only scholarship but also the author’s sheer affection for his beloved city. Sledge’s literary skill allows him to sustain interest by treating the buildings within the human context that brought them into being—and on occasion brought them down. A hefty slice of Mobile history is served up, with buildings as the primary vehicle through which the story is told.

—Robert Gamble, Senior Architectural Historian, Alabama Historical Commission

Sledge’s stories uncover the rich history of this part of Alabama and its architecture, set against the striking background of Sheila Hagler’s photographs.

Birmingham Magazine

It is always a pleasure to read something written by someone who knows what he is talking about, and when it comes to the architecture of Mobile, Sledge knows his stuff.

Journal of Southern History


Elizabeth B. Gould Research Award, Mobile Historic Development Commission

About the Author/Editor

JOHN S. SLEDGE is an architectural historian for the Mobile Historic Development Commission and Book Editor for the Mobile Register.