The University Club, 421 Queen City Avenue



The University Club, 421 Queen City Avenue


University of Alabama
Houses and homes


The University Club, sometimes referred to as the "Governor's Mansion", was built in 1834 by Captain James Dearing who piloted the first steamboat from Mobile to Tuscaloosa. The house went through many owners in the 1800s, one of which was Arthur P. Bagby, governor of Alabama from 1837-1841. In 1944, the University of Alabama acquired the house, donated by the Warner family, as a social center for faculty and staff.

The original house had the same general appearance it has today, although it had no sun porch on the south side, and in the center of the roof was a square platform from which the smoke of the river boats could be seen as they approached the town bringing supplies from Mobile. The kitchen stood on the north side separate from the house, but connected by a covered walk to the north porch.

The architecture is 18th and 19th century and the style is Greek Revival "Peripteral Mode." ("Past Horizons," Tuscaloosa County Preservation Society, 1978, page 15.)

Judge Henderson Midddleton Somerville, his wife Cornelia Harris Somerville and 4 of their 7 sons, the youngest being held by a young woman of unknown identity are pictured. Judge Somerville was founder and first dean of the University of Alabama School of Law and later, on the Supreme Court of Alabama, as was another son, Ormond Somerville.

Note the original wooden roof balustrade designed by the architect William Nichols, and the pair of cast iron dogs on the front steps flanking the portico. The pair of Somerville dogs were later moved to the University Boulevard home (now gone) of a son, Dr. William G. Somerville.


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