Days Gone By - stories from the past

Did you know Alabama didn’t have an established home for its governor until 1906?

The official residence of the governor of the State, located in the city of Montgomery, at No. 702 South Perry Street was erected in 1906 and was purchased by the State from Moses Sabel, by whom it was built. The price paid was $46,500, including sundry furnishings. It is a two-story pressed brick structure, with mansard roof, and presented a very attractive and stately appearance. Until the purchase of this building, the State had never owned an official residence for the use of its governors.  Prior to that time, governors of the state lived in private homes or local hotels during their terms of office

Moses Sabel House, Alabama’s first executive mansion

Moses Sabel House, Alabama's first executive mansion
Moses Sabel House, Alabama’s first executive mansion

Commission of seven members appointed in 1911

The legislature of 1911 passed “an act to make an appropriation for the purchase of a residence for the Governor of Alabama, and grounds and furnishings therefor, and for the acquisition by condemnation or purchase of any real estate necessary or beneficial for such purpose, to provide a building commission for such purpose, and to make an annual appropriation for the maintenance of such residence,” which was approved February 14, 1911.

A commission of seven members was provided by this act, four of whom were the incumbents respectively of the office of governor, secretary of state, attorney general and the director of the department of archives and history, and three citizens of the city or county of Montgomery to be appointed by the governor.

After the appointment of the three members required to be named by the governor, the following constituted the membership of the commission: Emmet O’Neal, governor; Cyrus B. Brown, secretary of state; Bobert C. Brickell, attorney general; Thomas M. Owen, director of the department of archives and history; and Michael H. Screws, William T. Sheehan, and William G. Covington, the last three, in accordance with the law, being citizens of the city of Montgomery.

The first meeting of the commission was held April 27, 1911. Other meetings were held, and the purchase of the property mentioned above was agreed upon. The deed of conveyance bears date, May 29, and was filed for record in Montgomery County, June 1, 1911.

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The act creating the commission provided $2,000 a year, “or so much thereof as, in the discretion of the governor may be necessary,” which should be “paid only on the requisition of the governor, in such sums and in such manner as may by him be deemed proper, for the general maintenance of the residence and grounds, in such manner as may to the governor appear proper or necessary.”

Appropriation repealed in 1915 – Governor paid for repairs

By act of February 20, 1915, this appropriation was repealed, and no other continuing appropriation was made for maintenance. However, the same act provided the sum of $2,000, “for necessary repairs and permanent improvements on the governor’s mansion and furnishings, the property of the State, and for the purchase of additional furnishings.” This amount appears to have been insufficient, and an additional sum of $2,234.11 was appropriated, September 4, 1915, to reimburse the governor “for moneys paid by him for necessary repairs and furnishings made on the governor’s mansion.” The general appropriation bill of September 28, 1915, authorized the expenditure of $500 a year “for the repair and upkeep, and new furnishings of the governor’s mansion, to be expended solely by the governor of the State, and only for actual repairs, additions or furnishings made and delivered.”

Current executive mansion - former Robert Ligon house - photograph 1979
Current executive mansion – former Robert Ligon house – photograph 1979

 Governor’s mansion moved to Robert Ligon house in 1950

The state moved the official residence from this house to the former Robert Ligon house in 1950 and then used the Moses Sabel mansion to house the state offices of the Adjutant General and the Military Department until May 1959, when the property was sold to the Montgomery Academy, a private school.  Governor Emmet O’Neal was the first to occupy the mansion and Governor Jim Folsom was the last.

Original Governor’s Mansion demolished due to Interstate 85

In 1963, the original Governor’s Mansion was demolished as part of the construction of Interstate 85.

Current Executive mansion – Robert Ligon House – photograph taken ca. 1970

Current Executive mansion - Robert Ligon House - photograph taken ca. 1970

Alabama's Governor's mansion staircase by Carol Highsmith 2010Alabama’s Governor’s mansion staircase by Carol Highsmith 2010

The Governor’s Mansion has a yearly Christmas Open House for tours.



  1. General Acts, 1911, pp. 20-22; 1915, pp. 158, 350, 937; Alabama Governor’s Mansion Commission, Report. 1915 (Leg. Doe. No. 23);
  2. Alabama Official and Statistical Register, 1915, p. 12. positions.


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About Donna R Causey

Donna R. Causey, resident of Alabama, was a teacher in the public school system for twenty years. When she retired, Donna found time to focus on her lifetime passion for historical writing. She developed the websites www.alabamapioneers and All her books can be purchased at and Barnes & Noble. She has authored numerous genealogy books. RIBBON OF LOVE: A Novel Of Colonial America (TAPESTRY OF LOVE) is her first novel in the Tapestry of Love about her family where she uses actual characters, facts, dates and places to create a story about life as it might have happened in colonial Virginia. Faith and Courage: Tapestry of Love (Volume 2) is the second book and the third FreeHearts: A Novel of Colonial America (Book 3 in the Tapestry of Love Series) Discordance: The Cottinghams (Volume 1) is the continuation of the story. . For a complete list of books, visit Donna R Causey

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