Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Arlington stands in graceful symmetry as an 1840s example of Greek Revival architecture, a special museum house with its collection of 19th century antiques, decorative arts, textiles and paintings.
In 1822, several years after Alabama joined the Union, Stephen Hall of Jefferson County purchased 475 acres in Elyton and built a two-story house. Young lawyer, William Swearingen Mudd acquired the property at public auction in 1842 and named it The Grove. He created a colonnaded mansion of four rooms over four rooms for his bride, Florence Earle, possible incorporating Hall’s two-story structure as the mansion’s west side.
The next two owners were Henry Fairchild DeBardeleben from 1884 to 1886 and Franklin Huntington Whitney from 1886 to 1902. Whitney changed the property’s name from The Grove to Arlington. After Whitney’s death, Arlington sat vacant and in disrepair. In 1902, inventor and manufacturer Robert Sylvester Munger purchased it at auction, upgrading the house with steam heat, electricity, and indoor plumbing. His daughter, Ruby Munger Montgomery, eventually inherited the property and called it home until 1952.
Private citizens, appreciating Arlington’s rich history, raised monies that the City of Birmingham matched, enabling City acquisition of Arlington in 1952 as a house museum reflecting Birmingham’s early heritage.
Arlington escaped 1865 Civil War destruction when General James Wilson arrived in Elyton with more than 13,000 cavalrymen. General Wilson headquartered at Arlington, met with and apparently respected then Circuit Court Judge Mudd who was a fellow Mason. Wilson refrained from burning Arlington but destroyed Confederate facilities at Irondale, Oxmoor, Selma and Tuscaloosa.
Today, Arlington is the oldest early 19th Century house surviving in the vicinity of Birmingham.