Mobile's Historic Bienville Square 

   Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Ohio), February 1, 1867

Bienville Square c. 1885

Describing the route of the Mobile Carnival Association's Emperor Felix into Bienville Square on Mardi Gras in 1898

   ...the emperor advanced into the city to Bienville Square, where the keys of Mobile were surrendered to him by Mayor J.C. Bush. Felix in reply promised all sorts of prosperity to his capital. He then confered the title of duke of Mobile upon Hon. E.L. Russell, vice president of the Mobile and Ohio Railroad. ​​

Dallas Morning News, February 22, 1898

Describing the events of Lundi Gras (the day before Mardi Gras) in Bienville Square in 1904

At 10:00 Bafunne's Band began a concert in Bienville Square which lasted until noon. The music rendered was of a high class and proved enjoyable to the immense crowd assembled in the square and on gallieries of near by buildings. 

Montgomery Advertiser, February 17, 1904 

When the Mobile Carnival Association reorganized in 1909, the ceremony by which the mayor handed the key to the city to Emperor Felix on Mardi Gras Day was moved from the courthouse to Bienville Square. 
Transferring the key to the city took place during the procession of Emperor Felix through the city following the recognition and toast to his queen which took place at the Manassas Club on the corner of St. Francis and Royal Streets until 1922, when it was moved down the street to the Athelstan Club. 

 Description of Carnival Activities in Bienville Square, 1912

Across the street is the location of the Athelstan Club, where the Mobile Carnival Association's Emperor Felix still raises a traditional toast to his queen durnig his annual procession through the city each Mardi Gras. 

The Athelstan Club, a men's only social club, had its start in 1873. All original members were also members of the Athelstan Masonic Lodge, although its membership was opened to others after 1875. 

The Athelstan Club changed locations more than once but after settling into its current space on St. Francis Street adjacent to Bienville Square, it became a center of Mobile's social scene and host to various Mardi Gras entertainments. 

For more information about The Athelstan Club 

Athelstan Club c. 1900,
Alabama Digital Archives Postcards Collection 

 Palmer Pillans, Mobile in Two Centuries 

For even more history of the Athelstan Club, CLICK HERE 

Dauphin Street, on the opposite (south) side of Bienville Square, looking toward the east, site of the popular Alhambra Club in the 1800's

Schedule of Events sponsored by the Mobile Carnival Association, in 1910 included concerts in Bienville Square, beginning on Sunday and continuing on Monday

In 1916, one year before the United States entered World War I,
the reorganized Mobile Carnival Association decided to scale back carnival activities but to make the coronation of the Emperor and his court  more accessible to the public by having it in Bienville Square. 

For more history of Bienville Square, Click HERE