Then and Now
October 17, 2000
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by Tom McGehee
The north side of Government Street just east of Broad held this view in the late 1950ís. The block had been the site of the grocery firm of McGraw and Walter in the early 1890ís and shared frontage with the residence of Dr. Vivian Gaines by 1894.
The corner in the distance had remained purely residential until 1929. The homes of Jack Ross and Wilbur Byrne were removed for the new Blacksher-Reece Motor Company. That concern lasted less than a decade and was replaced by an Albright and Woods Drug Store visible here.
The A&P grocery chain did not locate here until the late 1940ís. It joined a series of other businesses in this now busy commercial block. Those included Service Hardware Company, the fruit stand of George Carwie, meat market of Joel Lipscomb and on the corner, the popular Marshallís Electrik Maid Bakeshop.
By the 1970ís a new grocery store had long since destroyed the Middleton estate on the South side of Government for a new location. This and the westward rush from downtown left the north side of the street largely vacant by the end of that decade.
Across a much-broadened Broad Street the former Albright and Wood location was occupied for a time by a concern known as Furniture World. It then sat vacant until it was demolished for a muffler service. The former Pillans home, its roof just visible here in the distance, came crashing down for a short-lived sandwich chain location.
For now, the A&P structure still stands, though boarded and forlorn. A self-service gas station, of recent notoriety, fills the north east corner. The muffler service has moved outside the city limit chasing customers and ironically the site has now been cleared to provide a site for a drug store location.
The grocery store across the old A&P has recently shut its door in apparent concern over the arrival of new competition.
Credit: University of South Alabama, Marx Collection
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