Readers, now that I’m back from the research trip to Pensacola, I can catch up on what I saw.
I was pleasantly surprised to see that many of the buildings where Emmett lived and worked still exist, and are in good repair.
This photo (right) of downtown Pensacola from 1910 shows Emmett’s office building, then called the American National Bank Building. He had an office on the 7th floor.
Here’s a photo of the same building, today called Seville Tower.
I was a bit surprised to see that it was pink — or do you call it salmon? I’ll have to check with my intrepid tour guide, Jacki Wilson, of the Pensacola Historical Society, to confirm that this is the original color.
I wanted to go in to see the 7th floor, but was a bit hesitant as it is a law firm, and people were working, but Jacki was not to be dissuaded. We were on a history mission! She has a badge, too. (Well, it’s her PHS nametag, but apparently that has clout when walking around this part of town.)
We rode up in what was an updated but original size elevator (also once was run by a human being) to the 7th floor.
The law firm receptionist was very nice and let us take a look out the windows of the office to see what Emmett may have seen back in the day — namely, his old office building, which was (and is) right across the street. Back in Emmett’s day, this was the Customs House building, which also housed the post office, and several federal offices on the third floor. Emmett was the assistant district attorney for several years; so, his office was on the third floor of the Customs House.
We then went across the street to see the Customs House, now an art gallery.
The building itself is in very good condition. When Emmett was a congressman, it had needed a lot of repairs, and he got a $30K appropriation for the improvements. Today, that would be about $630,000. A lot of the improvements needed then were cosmetic (wall repair, painting, light fixtures, sidewalk).
Regardless, it looks as if the people of Pensacola care a lot about this historic building, because it is in excellent condition today.
We also took a stroll through Plaza Ferdinand VII. There is a lovely fountain that Emmett would have seen every day, that is in excellent condition. It was nice to see it as he would have seen it.
The great benefit of walking around a historic town with an archivist is that you get an excellent (and behind-the-scenes) tour of Pensacola, along with great details about the interesting people who lived there.
It was a fantastic experience to hear about the people Emmett would have worked alongside, or dealt with in the courtroom, or who would have hung out with him at The Osceola Club and the Elk’s Lodge, which were the two the private men’s clubs he belonged to back in the day.
Unfortunately, both of those buildings, like the San Carlos Hotel (another place he frequented), are gone now. However, we did visit the site of those buildings, and it gave me an idea of Emmett’s ‘commute.’
Emmett didn’t own a car, but he didn’t have to: Pensacola had a trolley, and then, most of the places he frequented were no more than four or five blocks away.
Here are some of the other images we saw that Emmett would have likely seen too:
I’ll have more to share about this great trip tomorrow. But before I go, the intrepid Jacki Wilson and I ended our hike about historic Pensacola with lunch!
Food, friends, and history, people! I highly recommend it!
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