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January 13, 1998

Mobile: Then and Now

Then Now

by Tom McGehee

In the early twenties Mobile had but one daily newspaper. There was no threat yet from radio for advertising dollars so business was quite good for the Mobile Register.

The newspaper offices occupied this three story structure at the south west corner of North Royal and St. Michael streets. A second story plaque notes the location of a visit from Lafayette in 1826. The buildings to the south and west were stables: The Waverly to the left and the Southern Express Company to the right. The Waverly's sign and unique horse head sculpture remain although the automobile has forced a new use for the structure.

Since 1910 the Mobile Register had been under the control of Frederick Ingate Thompson whose monogram fit his temperament. He seemed to get a thrill at giving everyone "fits" but profits were good and there wasn't any competition. By the mid-twenties Thompson would acquire the south east corner of the block's intersection with St. Joseph for a new home for his newspaper.

By 1929 a group of Mobilians decided a change was needed and funded the new Mobile Press with Ralph Chandler in control. By 1932 Thompson was forced to sell out to the group and went to his grave bemoaning the conspiracy against him.

The former newspaper offices in this earlier view like the old stables to the south were subdivided for commercial leasing. Gulf States Engraving operated here for a number of years but the corner became a parking lot in the 1950's. Thompson's old offices at the west end of the block were long ago demolished and a small park fills the space today.


The Harbinger, P.O. Box U-980, Mobile, AL 36688-0001