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Who We Are….

The Oakleigh Venture Revolving Fund arose out of several neighborhood improvement projects that were initiated and funded by Oakleigh Garden District neighbors in the 1990s.
    In late 1995, residents of Oakleigh signed a $300,000 bank note to buy and restore an abandoned nursing home that had once been one of Mobile 's premier residences. The home was located on Government Street , the north boundary line of the Oakleigh Garden District. Like many old homes, the house had been altered by poorly planned additions and later neglected.

     The project succeeded in tearing away the additions and restoring the residence to its former appearance. A young doctor and his family later bought the substantially restored house, completed restoration to their specifications and brought the house back to life.

Abandoned nursing home restored

Relocated and restored Victorian homes
     Several years later many of the same neighbors signed another large bank note to cover the cost of moving and restoring three Victorian structures in a nearby neighborhood that were scheduled for demolition. All three houses are now beautifully restored and maintained by caring families.

     One of those neighbors involved in leading these two efforts, Palmer Hamilton, decided that Oakleigh needed a revolving fund that could assist in furthering the rejuvenation of the neighborhood and other historic neighborhoods in Mobile. The core of the houses in the Oakleigh Garden District had been restored, particularly the larger houses, but a lot of houses outside the core were untouched, with no signs of improvement.

     Palmer assembled a diverse group of Oakleigh activists with experience in restoration and created presentations for foundation and corporate donors. These requests resulted in grants totaling $300,000.

     In its first five years, the fund, through restoration of existing houses or building new houses based on historic designs, has created almost $5 million of new or improved houses. For example, Marine Street, the fund's first targeted street, has been transformed into a vibrant part of the neighborhood.

Palmer Hamilton (left) meets with
Senator Richard Shelby (center) and
Bradley Goodyear Smith (right)

     The fund asked the Mobile Historic Development Commission if it could operate under its aegis as a committee of the MHDC. The MHDC voted to establish the OVRF as a part of its operations. As such, the fund is part of the City government and works closely with City officials in tackling various problems facing the neighborhood.

      In addition to improving Mobile's urban core, the fund hopes to recapture lost architectural styles that once were prevalent in Mobile. To do this, the fund relies on the Historic American Building Survey to replicate houses once a part of Mobile 's landscape. This work has been nationally recognized in various publications.

      In 2005, the Bedsole Foundation, one of the OVRF's original funding sources, asked the fund to expand its work to Mobile's Central Business District. To encourage this move, the Bedsole Foundation gave the fund $150,000 to cushion its exposure on this work.

Dauphin Street townhouses
The fund has now completed the first four townhouses on Dauphin Street in downtown Mobile. It has sold all four buildings, and plans to do more projects in downtown Mobile.

     Oakleigh was always an interesting mix of income levels, nationalities, and race.

The fund sees its mission as maintaining diversity while bringing back the historic neighborhood.

     The OVRF has received national and local recognition from publications ranging from Period Homes to the Mobile Press Register.

     The Mobile writer Frank Daugherty once commented as to how far Palmer wanted to extend Oakleigh, "He seems to want to move south until he reaches somewhere near Tierra del Fuego."


Contact Us © 2006 Oakleigh Venture Revolving Fund