The Outlaw House has an interesting past dating back to 1914. It was designed by notable architect George Bigelow Rogers, who designed many local Alabama landmarks including the Mobile Public Library Main Branch, Bellingrath House, and the Van Antwerp Building. The house is considered one of Alabama’s most exemplary in the Spanish Colonial Revival subset of the Colonial Revival Movement. With its thick stucco walls, arched doorways, overhanging eaves, roof brackets, and solid massing the home conveys in spirit and execution a certain Mediterranean flair. During the early 20th century, the Outlaw House was one of the few large period revival dwellings constructed in rural Mobile County.
George Cabell Outlaw acquired the property in 1925. It is rumored he won it in a poker game. Outlaw, along with James Arthur Morrison, founded Morrison’s Cafeteria in 1920. Morrison helped develop the cafeteria dining concept, which was unique at the time and would later become synonymous with the South. The public quickly accepted the idea of self-serve home-style cooked food offered at a modest price. At its peak, Morrison’s Cafeteria expanded to more than 150 restaurants that offered meals 365 days a year.
When George Outlaw acquired the property, the house included 120 acres of land. He built a lake on the property known as Outlaw’s Lake, which was formed around the time he acquired the estate. The lake covers over 17 acres and is up to 14 feet deep. A stone wall lines the edge of the lake. At the southeastern corner, stone steps lead down to the water. Several stone birdbaths were situated around the lake. Outlaw made the lake by damming the flow of a natural spring. He used the dam to generate electricity for his house. An oil furnace in the basement provided the heat. The Outlaw House was the first in the area to have electricity and a telephone. George Outlaw was also instrumental in bringing power to other houses in the area.
In 1940, George Outlaw, with his wife and two sons, moved to the city. In 1951, Arthur Outlaw, George’s youngest son, started working as an auditor in his father’s business. The father and son duo continued to work together, until his father’s death in 1964. Arthur Outlaw advanced to serve as the vice-chairman of the board and director of Morrison Restaurants, Inc.
Arthur Outlaw renovated the old Outlaw home in the 1960s and leased the property to the Chief of Police for the nearby town. During the 1980s, Arthur Outlaw lived in the house until conflicts with him being Mayor of Mobile and living outside of the city limits forced the family to vacate the property and move within the city limits. Today, they use a portion of the land for hunting and tree farming. According to tax records, the property is still owned by the Outlaw family. Family and friends still use Outlaw Lake today. There are currently no plans to renovate the house.