The Richards DAR House Museum is a perfect stop for history lovers, as they can walk directly off the streets of Mobile, Alabama and into history. Learn about the history of the home as well as about the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), all while having tea and cookies with the staff! The house was originally built by a steamboat captain named Charles Richards and his wife, Caroline Steele, in 1860.
The family owned the home (passing through their descendants) until 1946, when it was purchased by a cement company before being turned over to the city in the 1970s. At that time, five separate Mobile chapters of the Daughters of the American Revolution stepped in and leased the home, which is where it gets the second part of its name. They were the ones who furnished it and ran it as a period home museum.
The DAR House’s main exhibit is the actual home itself. Guests come from all across the state and country to tour this beautiful home and learn about the history of the inhabitants. The home also offers a wealth of information on the Daughters of the American Revolution, their history, and their current place in Mobile.
The first area of the house to notice is the cast iron facade outside of the home, famous for how it depicts each of the four seasons. There is a veranda outside of the home as well, made out of both marble and granite. On the roof, there are bracketed cornices and also paneled soffits (the underside of the home - in this case referring to eaves).
The home itself was built in the Italianate architectural style during the antebellum period in Mobile.
Once it became a museum, the inside was refurbished with carved marble (Carrara decorative marble) mantels for the fireplaces, a reception hall that is home to enormous brass as well as bronze chandeliers that are made of mythological creatures, each holding a crenulated glass globe which houses the light source. In fact, one of the single largest chandelier in the city of Mobile is found at the DAR house, hanging over one of the carved marble mantels and reflecting into a French mirror. The doorways are framed with Bohemian ruby glass panels, and each room has a small, silver bell that was used to call the household servants. The front “gallery” door is made entirely of white and grey marble squares.
The furnishings found in the home date all the way back to the 1870s. The interior of the house is divided into what is called a side-hall plan (meaning the main hallway of the home runs from the front to the back and is located on the side of the interior of the house). It features a curved staircase and floor length windows that look out over the veranda.
Cookies are served to each guest who tours the mansion, as well as a cup of tea. This harkens back to the type of southern hospitality one might imagine from a mansion and household of this stature.
The DAR House is open for guests to rent for weddings, receptions, and other special events. The landscaping outside the home and decor inside the home is a perfect, memorable place for any special day. Contact the museum for availability, cost, and any other information needed to decide on whether the DAR House is perfect for the special event being planned. Currently, a three-hour rental of the house is $1400 and four-hour rental costs $1600, but costs can change, and guests should confirm with the staff.
The House also hosts a variety of special events throughout the year. One of the most popular is Christmastime at the House. Besides being decorated for the season, both outside and inside, there is also an event held in early December, featuring an open house. There is a fee at the door, but all donations go back into the house and are tax deductible.
There is a small gift shop operated on the DAR House premises. Offering locally made and specialty products, like those from Carl’s Clay (exclusively carried at the DAR House) and books featuring the home as well as local history and events, purchases go back into supporting the home as well as maintaining its historical accuracy and beauty.
The Richards DAR House Museum, 256 N. Joachim Street, Mobile, AL, 36603, Phone: 251-208-7320