On September 9th, 1820, John Mullowny took up the position as the representative of the U.S. heading to Morocco. On May 17, 1821, he arrived in Tangier and took possession of a small house that is on the site of the present-day Legation. After he arrived in Tangier, two buildings on the site of the present-day Legation were acquired by Mullowny, which are several one-story building rooms that surround a courtyard. The courtyard is the nowadays patio court. Another small building is present-day room 151. This possession also includes a yard to the south of the rooms and a second-yard surrounding room 151. The second yard is the main present-day courtyard located east of the legation site. Mullowny used the rooms surrounding the west courtyard as his residence with room 151 as storage. Nowadays, these rooms are room 104 storage room, room 103 Mohammed’s office, room 101 Portico, and room 116 west entrance.
On September 2, 1838, Thomas N. Carr, arrived in Tangier. He provided an inventory of the Tangier American Legation. Based on Carr’s description, the seven-room building appeared to be a one-story dwelling with rooms surrounding the west courtyard as shown in the 1838 plan. In addition, the property presumably included the open yard to the south of the courtyard building, the storage building at the site of present-day room 151, and the open yard of the Theatre Parcel. Based on the narrative description in the documentary sources, a plan of the building as it likely existed in 1838 has been prepared. Carr also sold the Theatre Parcel in 1844, which shaped today’s main courtyard.
In 1844, Tangier was bombarded by French naval forces. The Tangier American Legation was damaged. After the bombardment, to restore the building and renovate the building, a second story was added, that spanned across the street and connected the rooms surrounding the west courtyard with present-day room 151. The spanning room was recognized as room 200, nowadays the reception room. After the second floor addition, the west courtyard was shaped to patio open yard.
The West Courtyard is a pebble mosaic ground. It has a marble fountain in the center. The fountain has two blue edges which creates a contrast with the red brick pavement and the marble fountain. The paving patterns are formed by two square in plan: one horizontal and one vertical. The patterns are paved by dark pebbles; the background paving is filled with light pebbles.
The East Courtyard, which is the main courtyard, has a marble fountain with an octagon pond at the bottom. The rounded pavement surrounding the fountain is filled with red bricks. Years later, it was covered by moss because of the dampness. The four short trails paved by squared basalt are located at the center of each side. Sandstone is being used for preventing the water evaporation to keep the soil in a certain humidity for plants growing above. The outside is paved with mixed cobblestones. Overall, the main courtyard has various materials to form different textures.
Four Mandarin Orange trees are located at the four edges of the main courtyard. Tangier grows a type of bitter orange tree typically for ornamentation because they produce oranges throughout the year. Oranges did not always exist in Morocco or the Mediterranean. Citrus began to appear in North Africa and the Arab world in the first millennium, and even surfaced in the Qu’ran; in the defining era of Islamic culture in North Africa, the bitter orange tree must have been something to behold; brilliant evergreen with bright bulbs of a color so rare in this part of the world.