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October 3, 2000

Mobile: Then and Now

Then Now
(Click on a photo to see a larger version)

by Tom McGehee

The south side of Government Street between Stocking Street and Dexter Avenue held four houses at one time. Here is the southeast corner at Dexter showing number 1465, dating to 1910.

In 1910 this had been home to William F. Tebbetts, president of the National Mosaic Flooring Company. His firm produced a popular mosaic tile which still graces many private and public buildings in Mobile. The firm would eventually be purchased by Walter Bellingrath and survive into the 1930’s.

The Tebbett’s home occupied a spacious lot with the Dexter Avenue side featuring a tall hedge with a trellised gate. The front porch was impressive with a gazebo-like structure at its west end, supported by a series of sturdy Ionic columns.

Throughout the 1920’s this was the residence of Jerome and Ellen Sheip. Mr. Sheip was a lumber merchant and the principal in the firm of Jerome H. Sheip, Inc. In the 1950’s number 1465 was the home of Ramon Iturbe, the Venezulan consul until that family opted for a quieter Brown Street address as traffic on Highway 90 roared ever louder.

By the date of this photograph in the early 1960’s, the structure is housing the real estate firm of James Ladner, "Selling Nothing But Residential Property." The former boarding house at 1501, just across Dexter, has been replaced with an ultra modern location for Burroughs Business Machines, and a corner of their building is just visible here.

Few if anyone noticed in 1966 when the corner was razed and asphalted for a new Esso Station. The venture required the removal of number 1461 as well. That home, just in view, had originally been home to lumberman Horace Turner, but for many years housed the family of physician Josiah Evans.

By 1968, Government Street Service Station was operating at the east end of this block, leaving only Fowler’s Antique Shop occupying the once gracious home at its center, number 1459. Blacksher Gardens across the street had vanished for a Ramada Motor Motel.

Interstate 10 marked the end of numerous businesses thrown up to attract the Highway 90 motorists. The Esso Station was short lived and a Keep Mobile Beautiful campaign finally brought the demolition of its successors’ long abandoned station in the 1980’s.

At the eastern end of this block, Government Street Service Station had a longer run as a Big Ten Tire Store. That firm eventually abandoned the location for west Mobile leaving its blighted structure to house the recycling efforts of Keep Mobile Beautiful. Number 1459 remains for the time being.


Credit: University of South Alabama, Julius T. Marx Collection.


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