Then and Now
March 25, 1997
by Tom McGehee
In 1900 architect Rudolph Benz completed his last major commission in Mobile at 1056 Government Street. The owner was cotton factor Charles T. Hearin who paid more than $25,000 for his home in the "classic colonial style."
A newspaper account at the time of completion called the house "the most beautiful, attractive and comfortable residence in this city if not in this section of the south," noting its "Old-style American grandeur."
The first floor held the parlor, sitting room and den on one side and library, dining room, conservatory and breakfast room on the other. The entrance hall with its solid mahogany staircase stretched back 64 feet and had a terra cotta fireplace. Impressive domes of stained or "art" glass were used in the hall.
The second floor was designed with seven bedrooms, two baths, a nursery and a servant's room.
The kitchen and butler's pantry were located on the first floor but the laundry was placed in the basement. A two story stable with servant's quarters above was to the rear of the property and can be seen in this ca. 1902 view.
Mr. Hearin enjoyed his home only five years. His widow sold the house to the John Blacksher family in 1907 who owned it up until 1952. The family was known for its hospitality and spectular Christmas celebrations.
The house was then acquired for use as the Abba Temple and was outfitted with linoleum floors, fluorescent lighting and other improvements. An auditorium disguised as a hulking metallic warehouse replaced the Hearin stables.
The most recent owners are painstakingly working to restore the home to its turn of the century splendour and operate the facility for private receptions and an occasional wedding.
(photo courtesy of Historic Preservation Society, Wilson Collection)