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February 10, 1998

Mobile: Then and Now

Then Now

by Tom McGehee

A circa 1890 photograph captured a summer day on Government Street on its north side in the long block east of Common Street. Dominating the scene is the residence of attorney Zebulon Montgomery Pike Inge. He and his wife Nona have lived here since marrying in 1876 and their children are in this view. Inge was a graduate of the University of Virginia and maintained his law office on North Royal Street.

To the immediate west is the home of Albert Cary Danner, a Confederate veteran now presiding over the Mobile Coal Company. His handsome home with its double galleries has a back garden featuring roses and a fountain. Captain Danner's daughter, Venetia, will reign as Queen in the 1903 Mardi Gras celebration. Danner reportedly owned the first telephone in Mobile.

Just visible in this scene is a low concrete curbing surrounding the Inge property. After installation Danner declared it to be partially across his property line and a feud ensued. Once friends the two reportedly went to their graves without speaking to each other. Inge died on New Years Eve, 1920 and Danner a year later.

Nona Inge died in 1929 and her sons George and Herndon subdivided the large house into apartments for themselves. The house was later sold and subdivided further. A generation later found the house on the market. An Inge descendant sought to purchase it only to find it fully stripped of its fine marble mantels, custom millwork and even a pressed tin ceiling. Vacant, a fire of unknown origin finished off what its owner hadn't ripped out.

The Danner home was occupied for a number of years by son-in-law Mell A. Frazer, an attorney. By the mid-1950's it was occupied by the Barbizon School of the Arts until the demolition for a parking lot for the Antoniette Apartment to the east.

Today nothing but a parking lot and a sadly overgrown field remain of the former scene. The curbing which caused a long forgotten feud survives.


Photo courtesy of University of South Alabama, Armitstead Collection.


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