Mobile’s Kate Shepard House Bed and Breakfast is filled with history as well as pampered guests.
By Kathie Farnell - photography courtesy of the Kate Shepard House
Surrounded by azaleas and camellias, the Victorian Kate Shepard House Bed and Breakfast reposes in the heart of midtown Mobile. Today, the gracious old house, which is on the National Historic Register, gives guests the opportunity to step back to a more peaceful time; and innkeepers Wendy and Bill James say it also offers a chance to get in touch with the history of Mobile.
The big Queen Anne style house was built in 1897 by Charles Martin Shepard, Kate Shepard's father, who chose plans for the house from a catalog issued by architect George Franklin Barber. In the early 1900s, Kate Shepard opened a private school here, which catered to children of Mobile’s most prominent families.
When Bill and Wendy moved in, they discovered the house was filled with more than memories. “Kate lived her life out here in the house, and fortunately for us, she did not like to throw anything away,” Wendy says. “So our attic was full of boxes of wonderful, wonderful things. We have the old school books here on display as well as a lot of her old family things, like tax receipts and, of course, letters and pictures and lovely old things to help us get a glimpse of who the Shepards were.”
Staying in the house gives guests the sense of stepping back into Mobile history.
Many of the home’s original fixtures, including stained glass windows, are still intact. In addition to the two guest rooms with private baths, the house includes a library filled with Shepard memorabilia including books and family letters.
It’s not necessary to travel far to see the local attractions. The house is located in midtown, next to downtown Mobile, in the Old Dauphin Way Historic District. The neighborhood features antique shops and restaurants just minutes away; yet is still conveniently located to the convention center and the Exploreum and an easy drive from Bellingrath Gardens and the U.S.S. Alabama.
Breakfast at the Kate Shepard House includes a nod to Wendy’s own heritage: “I'm half British so one of my favorite breakfast dishes was Scotch Eggs. So my guests also get Scotch Eggs, a hard-boiled egg wrapped in sausage and baked. And I have to add a Southern touch to that, so we serve them with gravy.”
And the house may include a more unusual amenity: the innkeepers say there may be some members of the Shepard family still in residence, though they aren’t exactly living there. As Wendy puts it: “Well, I'm not sure we have a ghost. At least I don't know that yet, but we have several things that have happened that we just can't explain---plates flying off the wall, CD players and alarm clocks coming on only when you walk into the room---and so we are thinking that perhaps we have some sort of presence.”
So visitors may actually find that the Kate Shepard house is literally filled with the spirit of the Old South.
The Kate Shepard House Bed and Breakfast, 1552 Monterey Place, Mobile, AL 36604, 251-479-7048
hottest spot to rock & roll all night
Picked by Mark A. Newman
It may have taken a while, but at age 44 I finally Rocked Out! Trust me, nobody is more surprised than I am and all it took was my favorite band performing in a former Woolworth’s.
The Soul Kitchen Music Hall, in historic downtown Mobile, was the scene where I had the most unbridled fun on the Gulf Coast since becoming the editor of Southern Breeze because I finally got to see Hoobastank perform live.
There is nothing remotely fancy about Soul Kitchen—it’s in a former dime store, for crying out loud. As I waited in line, I passed by store windows that once displayed Russell Stover candies side-by-side women’s shoes, men’s clip-on ties, and tricycles. Now they were blacked out and plastered with posters advertising upcoming shows.
Inside, the décor is simple: It’s a dive. I don’t mean that in a bad way; tapestries and chandeliers would be pointless. There are three bars and a stage. What else do you need? You don’t come to Soul Kitchen to impress a date or propose; you come to Soul Kitchen for the music. The front room has a bar and a couple of pool tables and serves as a lobby to the main hall which has two more bars and can hold almost 1,000 fans in a general admission configuration. If you’ve never been to such a venue, you don’t have a seat and you’ll be standing all night, so wear comfortable shoes.
After the two opening bands brought the night to the 10 p.m. mark, Hoobastank’s Doug Robb, Dan Estrin, Chris Hesse, and touring bass player Jesse Charland finally took the stage, as the crowd erupted. The fever pitch remained throughout the night as I found myself immersed among other Hooba-loving fans, most of whom were young enough to be my offspring, but I didn’t care. The night saw the band play their biggest hits—The Reason, Crawling in the Dark, Running Away—tunes off their latest album, “For(n)ever”—So Close, So Far, My Turn—and even the less popular The First of Me, which also happens to be my ring tone (I’m not kidding about being a big fan).
As a devout, almost fanatic, music lover, nothing compares to seeing your favorite musicians perform live. Seeing Neil Diamond in a coliseum is one thing but to be four feet from your favorite band in Soul Kitchen makes for one unforgettable, rockin’ night!
Soul Kitchen Music Hall, Mobile, Alabama