Then and Now
May 27, 1997
by Tom McGehee
In 1892 John E. Mitchell spent $3,500 for the construction of a comfortable residence at 605 Government Street on its south side between Warren and Dearborn streets. The architect was George Watkins.
John Mitchell was an attorney in practice with Henry Tonsmeire at the time. He built on vacant property east of the home of his widowed mother, Virginia Emanuel Mitchell, one of Mobile's most prominent antebellum citizens.
Virginia Mitchell died in 1909 and her home became the Seaman's Bethel and later a post for the American Legion. The Mitchell home was sold in 1919 to Isadore Prince, a merchant offering "general merchandise" at 72 Government Street.
The Prince family enjoyed the home for some 40 years, despite the arrival of a Texas Oil Company Station to the immediate east in 1920. The Government Street location made it a favorite spot for family and friends to view Mardi Grad parades.
In the 1960's Shell Oil had obtained the former Texaco station next door. The Prince house was purchased and demolished for a larger gas station which was never built.
The site is currently occupied by an abandoned building constructed for an antiques store. Virginia Mitchell's house survives in a state of complete dereliction.
(photo courtesy of University of South Alabama Archives, Marx Collection)