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September 14, 1999

Mobile: Then and Now

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

by Tom McGehee

This handsome church building was built by a group of Universalists in 1846. It stood mid-block on the east side of Jackson Street between St. Michael and St. Louis streets.

The building bore a strong resemblance to the Government Street Presbyterian Church which had arrived a decade earlier. The Presbyterians proved to have much better luck.

The Universalists did not fare well with their strongly northern attachments as pre-war tensions grew. By 1853 their numbers had so dwindled that they sold their building to The Gates of Heaven and Society of Friends to the Needy. It was more commonly known as The Jackson Street Temple.

By the end of the nineteenth century this once prosperous neighborhood was on the decline. Jackson Street Presbyterian which stood to the immediate south of the Temple closed its doors by 1907 as its members moved to the new Central Presbyterian in fashionable Dauphin Way.

In that same year the Jewish congregation moved to a large new Temple on Government Street. Their historic former home suffered the indignity of being gutted to house an auto mechanicís shop. A once elegant St. Louis Street fell from residential to commercial as new automobile dealerships moved in.

The mechanic and his shop have long been replaced by newer and far less historic commercial construction.


Photo Credit: Left photo courtesy of University of South Alabama Archives, Erik Overby Collection; right photo by Kevin Marston.


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