Stewartfield and the Avenue of the Oaks
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Stewartfield, a splended Greek Revival house, was built in 1849-1850 as the residence of Roger Stewart, a Scotsman who had settled in Mobile and set himself up as a cotton broker. He named his house Stewartfield after his ancestral estate in Scotland. Situated at the end of a fine avenue of oak trees, the house gained a reputation as a real show place. A quarter-mile horse race track ran around the avenue of trees and came close to the front porch. Men must have raced their thoroughbreds to the delight of hoop-skirted ladies on the front porch. There were bowling greens in the back. To the rear of the traditional floor plan of the Creole Cottage was added a large semicircular ballroom with a floor constructed to spring under the feet of the dancers.
Sad to say, Mr. Stewart died in 1857 at the age of thirty-five. This, coupled with the coming of the Civil War, probably put an end to Stewartfield as a show place and party house. Mrs. Stewart (Isabella) continued to live there with their one daughter, Annie. Parcels of the Stewart land were sold to the adjoining Spring Hill College, as was the house in 1903. It was used as a dormitory for the pre-high school boys and, later on, as the home of the golf pro of the college course. Miss Mable Byrne lived there from the 1930's until her death in 1955. (Her parents had donated the Thomas Byrne Memorial Library.) Miss Byrne made extensive repairs and some renovations during her stay. After her death the house was used as the location of the Fine Arts Department. In 1979 it was refurbished to become the Decorators' Show House II. Subsequently it was used as the president's office. Currently it is used for wedding receptions, banquets, and meetings. Despite the great variety of uses it has been subjected to, it is in beautiful repair and is again a kind of show place.
Since the mid-1940's the Avenue of the Oaks has been the glorious setting of the college commencements with the house in the background. Getting one's degree at Spring Hill College has become known as "Walking the Avenue."