Then and Now
March 6, 2001
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by Tom McGehee
These two nearly identical houses enjoyed a long coexistence at 1900 and 1902 Government Street until commercial encroachment arrived. They occupied the north side of the long block leading west to the Loop.
The houses dated to the World War I era and sat on lots extending back to what was then known as New Government Street. The electric trolley out front made commuting easy. Open farmland was still just blocks away to the west, giving this area a bucolic setting -- while it lasted.
Number 1900 in the foreground was the residency of John Courtney, a city of Mobile engineer. Beneath a red tile roof were three spacious bedrooms and a sitting room. A graceful arched window on the east side lit the stairway. The entrance hall stretched back twenty-six feet. The Courtney would occupy the home for more than 35 years.
Beyond at number 1902, Leonidas Hampshire, a realtor, resided for an equally long period.
By the late 1950's an unimaginative strip shopping center had replaced the Courtney home. The malls would soon arrive to the west, and the back street which once served the Courtney's garage, would be renamed Airport Boulevard.
Remarkably, the former Hampshire residence has survived. It has successfully been adapted to house Yellow House Antiques, although its front and back gardens were lost in the arrangement.
Photo Credit: (left) Julius E. Marx Collection, University of South Alabama Archives; (right) Kevin Marston
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