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Then and Now
February 2, 1999

Mobile: Then and Now

Then Now
(Click on a photo to see a larger version)

by Tom McGehee

The south west corner of Government and Broad streets was obtained in 1887 by local Methodists to give that denomination its first location on the city's premier street. Although the corner was considered to be on the city's outskirts, time would soon change that.

In 1890 the Government Street Methodist Episcopal Church was dedicated. It was the design of architect B.D. Price who termed the pressed brick structure Gothic Revival. The spires planned for the corner towers were never completed.

The church sanctuary faced west where the pulpit fronted the choir loft. Music was provided by an organ run by water pumped by an aging sexton. If the sexton happened to slow his efforts at pumping the music would slow as well.

The original congregation was drawn largely from the old Franklin Street church with other transfers from the church on St. Francis Street. The booming neighborhood just west of the new church helped to swell the congregation's numbers.

By 1904 the church had hired architect George B. Rogers to design a wing for Sunday school classes. Rogers' design called not only for the new wing but an entirely new sanctuary as well.

In 1917 the expanded church with its Sunday school wing to the south was dedicated. Its Spanish Revival facade quickly became a Mobile landmark. Ironically Rogers' original design called for a bell tower which like his predecessor's spires would never be built.

Then photo courtesy of University of South Alabama Archives; Now photo by Kevin Marsten.

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