Then and Now
September 22, 1998
by Tom McGehee
The south side of St. Francis Street in the block just west of North Claiborne once held the city's first successful Baptist congregation and dated to 1848.
St. Francis Street Baptist was that denomination's third try at success in Mobile. The church building was financed by soliciting prominent members of other faiths.
Here the church sat mid-block and is seen in this view dating from the 1890's. The steps just visible to the left lead to the manse for St. Francis Street Methodist Church.
By the twentieth century the Baptists joined their Presbyterian, Methodist and Jewish brethren in their move out of this once prosperous neighborhood. The Baptists in 1906 moved to a Greek Revival temple on Government Street which they named First Baptist Church.
The former church and the manse to the east were demolished to make way for the Cathedral of the Scottish Rite which was completed in 1921. Only the western wall of the church structure, complete with stepped buttresses, remains. It was successfully merged into the new building and is visible still.
Photo courtesy Wilson Collection, Historic Mobile Preservation Society.