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December 1, 1998

Mobile: Then and Now

Then Now

by Tom McGehee

In 1906 a post card was issued featuring one of Mobile's distinctive ante-bellum mansions dripping with iron lace. Here is number 308 Government Street looking west toward Claiborne Street. On the corner beyond is the veranda of the former Stanard home creating a pleasant vista. Just out of view to the right is the Government Street Presbyterian Church, the other occupant of the block.

Ironically this fine brick home in 1906 belonged to a lumber executive. Joseph T. McKeon was the president of Bay City Lumber, "Manufacturers and Exporters of Pitch Pine and Lumber." A prior owner had been James H. Masson, a coffee exporter who had ended up president of Mobile's First National Bank in 1870.

These blocks of Government Street were quiet and residential in 1906. Mobile's commercial district was blocks away lining Dauphin and Royal streets. The automobile which had been a luxurious oddity would come to change all of that.

By 1920 the automobile was taking over Mobile as it had the rest of the nation. The elegant home at 308 Government Street came crashing down to make way for Adams Motor Company which would boast that it was the "largest automobile company in the South." Here L.G. Adams sold Fords and Lincolns until the Detroit giant's demands to sell slower moving Lincolns finally closed the operation down.

Within a decade the old Stanard home in the next block met a demolition crew as well. Its replacement was the Davis Tire Store.

The Ford logo at Adams Motor was long ago replaced by signage for the Mobile Press Register while Davis Tire met the fate of its predecessor and was replaced by a parking lot.


Left: Post card from author's collection. Right: Photo by L.D. Flectcher.


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