See Rock City

See Rock City

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Another Architectural Loss In Mobile, AL

In 1926 Miss Ethel Berrey purchased this house at 1113 Church Street which she filled with her collection of antique furnishings. Just when the house was built has not been uncovered.

by the 1930's Miss Berrey was selling her collection to make ends meet and found a ready customer in Bessie Morse Bellingrath who was furnishing her new home at Bellingrath Gardens.

In a letter dated Jan. 26, 1956 written to a niece she recalled purchasing a hanging fixture for $6.00 and selling it to Mrs. Bellingrath for $100. "She enjoyed big prices," she wrote. Those big prices kept many an antiques dealer from starvation in those depression years!

By 1956 Miss Berrey had moved to Ohio to live with a nephew and died just a few months after penning that letter. Her former home on Church Street had been chopped up into apartments and met the wreckers a decade or so later.

The space is now vacant except for a trash dumpster serving an adjoining set of apartments.

That $100 light fixture which once illuminated the hall of the Hixon-Dixon home on Tuthill Lane in Spring Hill, now hangs in the second floor hall of the Bellingrath Home.

Here is the hanging fixture purchased from Miss Berrey. Although her letter stated the price was $100 her handwritten page from the 1930's indicates it was priced at $150 - a steep sum in the midst of the Depression.

She describes in detail that it came from "the old Eslava home" and mentions the large marble bath tub formerly in that house which has been in the collection at the History Museum of Mobile since 1978.
This was in a closet wrapped in brown paper when I arrived 21 years ago. It is missing its glass smoke screen at the top unfortunately.

Source: Thomas McGehee