The one-way streets of the De Tonti Square Historic District in downtown Mobile house multiple historical buildings. If you take a walk or a drive to 256 N. Joachim, you’ll see one of them — the Richards-DAR House Museum. This particular building was erected in 1860 for Captain Charles G. Richards and his wife, Caroline Elizabeth Steele. After 1946, it housed a cement company until they donated the building to the city. The four chapters of the local Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) have brought it back to life.
“We’ve helped support the house since 1973 when it was acquired by the city as a museum,” Richards-DAR House Board President Patsy Hamilton said. “That’s when the DAR volunteered and got involved to offer tours and take care of the house. They furnished it or got some items from the History Museum of Mobile.”
As a museum, you can take a guided tour which takes you into the past.
Soon, on Saturday, Nov. 13, the building will not only be a museum.
“We are celebrating the 100th year of having the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, plus a dedication of the Never Forget Garden Marker,” said Sandra Rackard, who is on the board of the Richards-DAR House and regent of the Needham Bryan chapter of DAR. “The purpose of the marker is to forever honor and remember those that gave their lives for our freedom.”
Following the event, there will be a dedication of a Victorian garden and a reception.
“The president general, Denise Doring VanBuren, of the NSDAR [National Society Daughters of the American Revolution] is flying in from [Washington, D.C.],” Rackard said. “She was just in Europe visiting multiple monuments, and she will speak about her travels. She’s never been to Mobile, and it’s been 80 years since the president general has been here, so we are all very excited.”
VanBuren will also place a wreath around the monument.
“What started this whole thing was to revamp the garden, and in the meantime, Sandra found out about the tomb,” said Carol May, who is one of the three directors of the support group for the DAR House: Friends of the Richards-DAR House Museum Foundation.
“We have many people from the city helping, like John Peavy from Parks and Recreation along with some of his crew. Mike Rogers from Rogers & Willard contracting services has smoothed the way for us in dozens of different ways. Our two builders are teachers from St. Paul’s Episcopal School,” May said.
The members of DAR, the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, sculptor Craigger Browne, Friends of the Richards House and many more will play a part in this upcoming celebration.
“We are all volunteers,” May said, “and we’re getting back to having more events. We used to have a book signing every month, and we are finally starting to do them again. On Oct. 17, author Mary S. Palmer, who wrote ‘Boyington Oak: A Grave Injustice,’ visited.”
Concerning the state of the gardens before renovation, “We’ve had fun getting this ready; it’s been an adventure,” May said, joking. “While we were cleaning, one of us just about died while digging up 100-year-old crepe myrtle tree roots!”
The house is known to invite history buffs from around the globe.
“Recently, we had a couple come visit from Virginia. Then another from Canada. They were fascinated with Mobile. We have so much going on, but you don’t always know about it until you explore it,” May said.
Rackard said, “I love history and I’m patriotic. My husband was in the Air Force. It’s something that, to me, is very important. I feel like if you don’t remember your history and never look back, you can make mistakes in the future. You learn a lot from what has happened in the past.”
The twofold event will be held this Saturday, Nov. 13 at 2 p.m. A reception will follow. The event is not fully open to the public due to space constraints. The gardens and the museum will be open to the public after the event.
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