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November 14, 2000

Mobile: Then and Now

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

by Tom McGehee

The north side of Government Street between Memorial Park and the Loop developed rapidly at the start of the twentieth century. The electric streetcar line was extended to what became known as the Loop in October of 1902. Development was quick to follow.

This is a view of number 1906 with one of the wider lots in the block. It was originally the residence of attorney Henry Tonsmeire, and his wife Henrietta. On a July afternoon in 1915, Mr. Tonsmeire was suddenly stricken with "paralysis" at his office in the City National Bank Building. He was brought home where he died hours later. The funeral which followed was conducted at home.

Banker Sidney Tonsmeire, Henry’s brother, occupied the house during the twenties. He was followed by the family of Douglas Adair of the Ruberoid Company. The firm advertised itself as manufacturers of roofing materials, including asbestos shingles for roofing and siding.

Another banker made 1906 his home in the early forties. Robert Bacon had begun a career at the First National Bank as an assistant cashier in the bond department in 1939. He had earlier worked as a salesman for his uncle in Danner Veneer before managing the sales department for King, Mohr and Co., an investment firm. He and his wife, Grace, occupied the house on Government Street for a decade before a move to a far quieter Dog River address. He would be president of the First National Bank by 1967.

By the time of this photograph in the late 1950’s, Government Street had been designated Highway 90 and the traffic count was climbing daily. A chiropractor was operating out of the house and a sign beside the front door outlines his office hours.

Number 1906 was one of the first victims on this block. It was razed and its gardens asphalted for a nondescript commercial strip building which has housed Sherwin-Williams since the early 1960’s.

The brick bungalow visible to the west still stands. It is presently vacant.


Photo credit: J.T. Marx Collection, University of South Alabama Archives


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