Gorgas House Museum
The Gorgas House Museum was built in 1829, two years before the university opened, and was the first structure on the University of Alabama campus. It is also one of the few campus buildings that survived the Civil War.
When first constructed, the building was used as a guest house for visiting dignitaries and professors as well as a dining hall for the students. In the late 1840s the hall was remodeled as a faculty residence which during the Civil War belonged to professor John Wood Pratt. However, when the 7th president of the University, Confederate General Josiah Gorgas, resigned because of ill health, the Board of Trustees gave him the old Pratt House and he retired to it under the title of university librarian.
Josiah’s wife, Amelia Gayle Gorgas, accepted the position of post mistress and matron of the infirmary and thereafter both jobs were held in her home. After her husband’s death in 1883, Amelia became the new librarian and held that position until 1906. Amelia Gayle Gorgas Library is named in her honor.
In 1954, the state legislature designated the house as a memorial to the Gorgas family and today it is part of the University of Alabama Museums. The home contains many original Gorgas Family artifacts, including items related to General William Gorgas, son of Josiah and Amelia Gorgas, and internationally known for his work in sanitation at the Panama Canal. The Gorgas House is open to the public on weekdays from 9:00 am – 12:00 pm and 1:00 pm – 4:30 pm, or by appointment. Admission is free for current University of Alabama faculty, staff, students, and members of the University Alumni Association, and $2.00 for visitors. The Gorgas House may also be rented for special events. For information, call (205) 348-5906.
Courtesy of the W.S. Hoole Special Collections Library
Information collected from The University of Alabama : a guide to the campus by Robert Oliver Mellown (Tuscaloosa : University of Alabama Press, c1988), The University of Alabama, a pictorial history by Suzanne Rau Wolfe (University : University of Alabama Press, c1983), and the Gorgas House Web site. Historical images are courtesy of the W.S. Hoole Special Collections Library, The University of Alabama and are reproduced with permission.