Historic Gorgas House Furniture Gets New Life

restored red sofa at the Gorgas House
Restored sofa at the Gorgas House Museum

The Gorgas House Museum, as it’s now called, was built in 1828 and is the oldest surviving structure on UA’s campus.

In 1879, Josiah Gorgas, then president of The University of Alabama, and his wife Amelia Gayle Gorgas moved into the small dwelling. As years passed the house served as a private residence, campus post office and hospital thanks to Amelia, who in addition to serving in those roles became the University librarian after her husband fell ill.

The Gorgas family didn’t move to Tuscaloosa with just their good name and character. They brought furniture with them, some of which has remained intact – with help – in the Gorgas House since that time.

Recently, two pieces, a sofa built in the 1840s and a kneeling/prayer bench built in the 1880s, were reupholstered by the University’s Furnishings and Design Department, which provides interior design and upholstery services to the campus community.

Brandon Thompson, museum director, praised the department’s work.

“These are two incredible pieces,” he said. “They did an amazing job reupholstering and I’m excited to continue to work with them on getting this installation together so people can come by and take a look at the incredible work.”

Thompson said they only had to pay for the replacement material, which was covered by a donor.

“Essentially due to age, the fabric on them was wearing away, and they really weren’t exhibit quality any longer,” he said of the red sofa and prayer bench.

The original fabric and stuffing will be used to create a hands-on exhibit allowing people to see how these pieces once looked. The installation is now in the development phase.

Museum hours are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Admission is free to students, faculty, staff and members of the University Alumni Association, and $2 for others.

Learn more about the restoration by reading the full article on the UA news site.