Captain O’Neal Home, 1835
1404 Captain O’Neal Drive
Built in 1835, this is the oldest Gulf Coast cottage in Baldwin County. It features a gable roof to the side, a recessed porch with square supports and balusters covering the full front façade, a full porch covering the rear façade (now enclosed), a central hall flanked by rooms on either side, brick pillar supports beneath the house, and exaggeration of the overhanging eaves which extend 2 feet from the house and require diagonal supports (forerunner of the rain porch which is unique to this region). A stroll up Nicholson Street allows a sideward glimpse of the original wide wooden planks under the eaves, typical of the crude lumber cutting methods of the 1800’s. In 1872, Captain James O’Neal, an Irish immigrant and prominent bay boat captain, acquired 120 acres of bay front land and this home. Captain James O’Neal was a very colorful character, known for his lively rendition of “Silver Threads Among the Gold”, and was also very generous. In 1923, he donated the large flat field across the street and west of the Normal School as a campus and athletic field. His son, Captain William (“Billy”) O’Neal, was also a bay boat captain and owner of the O’Neal Pottery. His photographs profile his right face, covering an old fishhook injury to his left eye. Captain Billy piloted the Heroine, one of the fastest and most notorious crafts to plough the choppy waters of the bay. It was built in Glasgow, Scotland with an unusual “feather bucket” type of water wheel and was powered by Clydeside engines. During the Civil War, the Heroine was used as a blockade-runner to slip past the Union patrols at the mouth of the bay and bring desperately needed supplies from Havana, Cuba to the Confederate forces in this area.
Captain James O'Neal Captain Billy O'Neal The Heroine