National African-American Archives & Multicultural Museum
This archive and museum is located in the former Davis Avenue Branch of the Mobile Public Library which was established in 1931 and served as a branch library for African American patrons until the 1960s when the library ended its policy of segregation. The library was the result of a campaign led by African American residents who were previously not served by Mobile Public Library. The building was designed by George B. Rogers, a Mobile architect who had previously built the library's main branch. Designed in a period when the city's public buildings featured classical revival architecture, the building cost a total of $26,000 and contained only three rooms when first constructed. After the city library ended its policy of segregation in 1964, the building was re-purposed for the storage of government documents. In 1992, the city council of Mobile leased the library to the National African-American Archives & Multicultural Museum which offers a variety of exhibits that interpret the history of African Americans in Mobile and throughout the United States.
Backstory and Context
Originally designed and built by George B. Rogers in 1930, this building is designed after the classical revival style that was ongoing in the 1920s and 30s. Before its construction, the Mobile Public Library decided that there was a need to give a library to serve the needs of the black community. Rogers was given $26,000 to construct a small three-room building that would serve as the Davis Avenue Branch of the Mobile Library.
In 1961 local architect Harry Inge Johnston was contracted to design an addition to the small library, a simple one-room addition. Not long after segregation was officially ended in 1964, and the branch of the library closed with the opening of the main branch to all residents. With the closing of the branch, the building was repurposed to serve as storage for government documents. In 1983 the building was added to the National Register of Historic Places for significance in Architecture. Starting in 1992, the city council of Mobile leased the library to the National African American Archives which expanded to include a museum.
Gould, Elizabeth Barrett. Davis Avenue Branch, Mobile Public Library, National Register of Historic Places. December 22nd 1983. Accessed November 16th 2020. https://npgallery.nps.gov/NRHP/AssetDetail?assetID=e5bf5b26-400c-432c-876f-c81c6c192fac.
Hilton, Mark. National African-American Archives and Museum, Historical Marker Database. December 11th 2017. Accessed November 16th 2020. https://www.hmdb.org/m.asp?m=111308&Result=1.
Specker, Lawrence. Mobile segregation landmark could be reborn as 'cultural venue', AL.com. September 20th 2018. Accessed November 16th 2020. https://www.al.com/news/mobile/2018/09/mobile_segregation_landmark_co.html.