Then and Now
November 28, 2000
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by Tom McGehee
The north side of Government Street west of the Loop developed with the arrival of the extended electric streetcar line in 1902. Here is Number 1954, completed in the mid-teens, and built by businessman Paul Danner.
Mr. Danner oversaw his family's interests in timber, veneers and coal. He built a spacious home for himself and his household which at the time consisted of his wife, Mary, one sister-in-law, a Guatemalan maid and his only child, Dorothy.
By the 1930's Mr. Danner was a widower and he sent his daughter off to boarding school and moved into the St. Charles apartments. Lee Tibor, of the Gulf, Mobile and Nashville Railroad was apparently leasing the house by mid-decade as he is listed there in the1935 city directory.
By World War II, the Danners were back at 1954 and daughter Dorothy rented out much of the house to shipyard workers. Three women lived in the attic. Each tenant reportedly paid the sum of $5.00 a week.
By the early 1950's Mr. Danner's sister-in-law's home to the east had been replaced by a branch of the First Federal Savings and Loan Association. An apartment building had earlier been built to the west and across Government Street a new Delchamps neared completion. The downward spiral to commercialization was nearly complete in the neighborhood.
The house at 1954 survived briefly as the Retarded Children's Training Center before its replacement with the Spanish Villa Restaurant by the mid-sixties. Bank expansion for a drive-through has long since replaced that institution.
Photo Credit: J. T. Marx Collection, University of South Alabama Archives
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