Tuesday, May 03, 2016
CHINABERRY FOR SALE

CHINABERRY FOR SALE

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Today’s world is all too fast paced. Phones ring, deals dance, young ones scream, and hands run through hairs. Add to aforementioned realities is the time spent on the road. Luckily for Mobilians the pathways of our daily lives are frequently enlivened by natural and built landscapes of the utmost beauty. Chinaberry is one of those places that cannot, but catch the eye, mind, and heart.

Located at 3703 Old Shell Road, Chinaberry is one of all too many places admired from the corner of the eye for simple reason of life’s demands. This .49 acre amazing property definitely warrants much more than a lingering glance. Situated in one of the most evocative areas in Mobile (location, location, and location), Chinaberry constitutes a singular ensemble. The compound is informed by a handsomely scaled “Creole Cottage” with a detached kitchen house and a unique private chapel. Meandering pathways paved in Old Mobile brick unite the architectural and natural. The outdoor rooms created and connected by these spiraling paths are phenomenal. They perfectly suit Southern tastes) for indoor-outdoor living.

With the location in mind, let us explore a bit. While Chinaberry is most often seen from Old Shell Road, the corner lot property is best accessed off of Wacker Lane. The views of, within, and from the property are amazing. The meandering route to the front gallery provides for reflection and invigoration. A gracious gallery extending the length of the house affords amazing vistas is all directions. These varying prospects are draw dropping, even among Spring Hill.

The exterior realm is no letdown for its interior counterpart. The energy of the street and calm of gardens are no preparation for the simple lines and great proportions of the interior. Four flawlessly proportioned rooms allow for infinite uses. The alignment of doors and windows respect climatic and social mores that still hold true. This house is both formal and welcoming. To the rear of the four main rooms one encounters an enclosed porch containing a kitchen and bathroom. These changes show that buildings evolve. Additions are in no way ruled out. A cavernous attic entered by way of a curving stairs sets the mind agog as to even more potential utilization of space.

The preceding lines give one a glimpse into Chinaberry as it now stands. Let us take a backward glance for the place has a fascinating history. Dating from 1862, the main house and the kitchen were built for a Phillip Pfau. The passagless or non-hall plan of four rooms constitutes a unique vestige of Colonial Mobile. Earlier Creole cottages did not have halls. Center passages first appeared in the 1820s and radically altered the appearance and experience of Creole Cottages. Chinaberry - then and now - perpetuated an older tradition. The [property was acquired by the prominent Crichton family during the early 20th Century. The late Anne Randolph Crichton restored the house and lovingly enhanced the grounds and built the chapel. The chapel is particularly special. Constructed of salvaged bricks like the pathways offering circuitous routes to it, the one-room building features mullioned windows rescued from the original St. John’s Episcopal Church. Other Anne Crichton infusions include an inlaid mantel and vanity made of an old washstand both found within the main house.

Chinaberry is a most special place. Benefitting from a preservation easement held by the Mobile Historic Development Commission (MHDC), the property is preserved for future generations. There is always innovation within tradition. Historic character and present day living can be more than accommodated. They can be happily united. The MHDC welcomes any and all inquiries regarding Chinaberry. This vestige of past and vehicle of revitalization will be on the market but for a short time longer.

Mobile Historic Development Commission (MHDC), 251.208.7998
Greg McDonald 251-421-2303