The Maxwell Papers

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Here’s one of my latest acquisitions to the Emmett Wilson biographical research library:

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Surprisingly, it isn’t a dry tome, and it was a great deal! I ordered it from a book thrift store, and paid a grand total of $6, including shipping.

What’s in here?

Augustus Emmett Maxwell, Emmett's grandfather, reputed hunk.

Augustus Emmett Maxwell, Emmett’s grandfather, reputed hunk.

Several interesting bios on Emmett’s colleagues, including a well written bio on Emmett’s grandfather, Augustus Emmett Maxwell. Maxwell’s bio includes details about him personally (i.e., the man stood 6 foot four inches, and liked to go about clean shaven, though he wore a beard in later years).

That is kind of detail I have been seeking high and lo here in Emmett Wilson research land.

Also — while the bio itself on Emmett’s grandfather is only three pages long, the real treasure is the bibliography: I read all of the primary source bibliographies I can get my hands on in search of new books or other information sources. There were several new-to-me, UNPUBLISHED sources, along with their locations, right there in the footnotes! God bless the citation process!

Lo and behold, this is what was in the back of the book for the source of Emmett’s grandfather’s info:

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See that in the middle of the page with the item “Maxwell Family”? The Pensacola Historical Society!

Had I known about this book, and, had seen this, I would have hit up my friend Jacki the Archivist at the Pensacola Historical Society to see the file while I was in town on the second research trip back in October!

The moment I saw this, I sent an email message to Jacki. I’m dying to know what else is in that file! I’ll keep you posted!

 

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Just in Time for Halloween: The Death Tour

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When I was in Pensacola, I had a list of places I wanted to visit, and as I put the list together, I realized I had a theme going — so, I decided to give it a name: The Death Tour.

Apropos as we near Halloween.

Stop one: 904 North Baylen, Pensacola

This is the last house where Emmett lived in Pensacola, in 1918. It was new that year; the Kehoes were renting it. Walter Kehoe was in Washington, D.C. Emmett was living there for a little while, until he was either kicked out by the Kehoes, or, removed himself to the San Carlos Hotel. After Emmett died, he was brought here the day before his funeral, and (according to The Pensacola Journal), many people came by to pay their respects.

904 North Baylen. Source: Google maps

904 North Baylen. Source: Google maps

Jacki Wilson of the Pensacola Historical Society reached out to the current residents to request permission to see the house. I left a voice mail, but there was no response. I don’t want to bother people who don’t know me; I get it that some folks may be uncomfortable with me seeing a house where a loved one had a funeral (which was common back in Emmett’s day for the body to lie in state at home).

It is a beautiful home. I don’t know if the interior is unchanged from 1918, but the from the street, it appears mostly unchanged; you can tell it is well loved. I drove by a few times to try to get a feeling for it. It is a large home, but the parlor where Emmett would have been laid out might not have been able to hold dozens of people at a time. The Pensacola Journal didn’t provide the number of visiting mourners, but if at least 50 people showed up, the porch would have accommodated the group.

The current residents may feel more comfortable responding if I reached out in a traditional snail-mail letter. I’m going to try again, of course. “No” or ‘no answer’ hasn’t ever been much of a deterrent in this research project.

Stop two: Historic Pensacola Hospital

The next stop was at historic Pensacola Hospital, also referred to as Old Sacred Heart Hospital, but now known as Tower East, 1010 North 12th Avenue.

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Original casement windows throughout -- and in beautiful condition.

Original casement windows throughout — and in beautiful condition.

One of several cases of artifacts found while the building has been undergoing renovation.

One of several cases of artifacts found while the building has been undergoing renovation.

The former hospital is on the National Register of Historic Places, and is open for visitors from 8 am to 5 pm during weekdays. It is owned by the Ritz family (Stephen, Aaron and Michael), three very nice gentlemen who were more than generous with their time, and to allow me to walk through the building and take photos, to get a ‘feel’ for the place. When I introduced myself to Stephen Ritz, I told him that I had obtained copies of historic documents that told the story of how the hospital came together — and the documents revealed some interesting things about the hospital (a few of which they didn’t know), such as the installation of an ’emergency buzzer’ that the Sisters-Nurses used to let in patients after hours, before there was an official ’emergency’ entrance to the hospital. Also, that Emmett was treated in the basement of the hospital, where there were two rooms set aside strictly for the treatment of alcoholics.

Aaron Ritz, one of the sons, was interested in that information, as he hadn’t thought patients were kept in the basement. He pulled out the original floor plans for the basement, and sure enough, there were two patient rooms designated.

“And this confirms your information,” he said, pointing out that these two patient rooms were the only rooms he’d noticed on the old blueprints that had a foyer. “Other patient rooms would just open out onto the hallway. These rooms appear to have had a staff person to regulate the comings and goings of patients and/or visitors.”

Notice the two patient rooms in the blueprint. These are the only rooms in the hospital with a designated foyer and private passage, which supports the newspaper report from 1915 where Dr. S.R. Mallory discussed the two hospital rooms in the basement set aside for the treatment of inebriates.

Notice the two patient rooms in the blueprint. These are the only rooms in the hospital with a designated foyer and private passage, which supports the newspaper report from 1915 where Dr. S.R. Mallory discussed the two hospital rooms in the basement set aside for the treatment of inebriates.

Everyone pretty much left me alone to wander about, as I tried to find the room where Emmett died. Of course, there are businesses in the basement now, and the rooms are not the same, but most of the building is intact and unchanged.

I think I found the two patient rooms, by the way.

Here’s the layout of what I believe is the patient room on the right side:

One of the former patient rooms reserved for treating inebriates, now Room 127, Tower East, aka historic Pensacola Hospital. Source: Tower East Group, Inc.

One of the former patient rooms reserved for treating inebriates, now Room 127, Tower East, aka historic Pensacola Hospital. This room is available for lease, according to the Tower East website. Source: Tower East Group, Inc.

I was unable to get a shot of either of the rooms during my visit, but I did locate a photo (from the Tower East Group’s Facebook page) of Room 125, the former patient room on the left side. The photo of a hair salon tenant. I don’t think the same tenant is in there today. But, if you look at the photos, you get an idea.

Original transoms and woodwork on most of the doors and windows in fairly good condition. Source: Tower East Office Complex.

Original transoms and woodwork on most of the doors and windows in fairly good condition. The terraza floors are unchanged, too. Source: Tower East Office Complex.

The inside of Room 125 -- taken two years ago. It may look completely different today. Source: Tower

The inside of Room 125 — taken two years ago. It may look completely different today. Source: Tower East Office Complex

So, we know he died in one of those rooms. But which one?

More will be revealed, I’m sure.

Stop three: Christ Church

This stop was, by far, the most moving. Christ Church was where Emmett’s funeral service was held on Thursday, May 30, 1918. The historic church is mostly unchanged.

christchurch1

I let the church secretary know I was in town and would like to visit the sanctuary, if it was convenient. She let me and my friend Nancy in, and left us alone to explore and absorb the experience.

It was breathtaking. And when I stood at the place where I knew Emmett’s casket had stood, it just got to me.

Emmett's casket would have been placed right before the marble steps, at the center.

Emmett’s casket would have been placed right before the marble steps, at the center.

As I stood exactly where the casket had been placed, I looked up.

Stars. Hundreds of them. Painted onto the dome of the ceiling.

Stars. Hundreds of them. Painted onto the dome of the ceiling.

It was deeply moving.

I took a few more photos, thinking, as I did, “Did Emmett look at this during the services he attended? Did he, perhaps, like this window? Did he sit in a specific seat when he attended services? Did he like the organ music?

Facing the rear of the church.

Facing the rear of the church.

side view

Not a great photo, but a beautifully moving stained glass window. I wonder if Emmett liked it, too.

Not a great photo, but a beautifully moving stained glass window. I wonder if Emmett liked it, too.

Emmett was a parishoner, but not a regular church-goer. Apparently, that did not matter. The minister, Rev. Johnson, gave a touching eulogy.

Emmett's funeral at Christ Church.

Emmett’s funeral at Christ Church.

I’ve tried to find a copy of the eulogy. The church archivist looked for me, and helped me try to locate Rev. Johnson’s papers (to see if he might have kept a copy), but no luck. I contacted the Episcopal Diocese offices directly, in the event a copy of Emmett’s eulogy was sent there (they often did that if members were former congressmen, governors, and the like), but they didn’t have anything in their archives, either.

But, you never know.

Rev. Johnson’s eulogy for Emmett may turn up one of these days!

More Pensacola trip updates in a few days. Stay tuned.

In Thanks

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Folks, I’m spending a few days decompressing from the road trip to Pensacola. I have to take a few days off from research and writing about our guy because, frankly, I’m beat. It was a great trip, and I enjoyed it, but it was intense and compressed. I can’t get into a writing state of mind until I unwind a bit.

But today, I want to thank the many people who went out of their way to show me around, to explore the places Emmett Wilson lived or worked (or attended church — on the rare occasion that he did), and in a few instances, to meet for the first time since we began corresponding about Emmett’s story over two years ago!

First, to my intrepid colleague and dear friend Nancy, who has been corresponding with me about Emmett for over a year (we met in person for the first time last Sunday). I’m blessed, humbled, and honored to have made friends with this wonderful lady. She has a great sense of humor, and I value her playing Devil’s Advocate with me on Emmett’s story more than she knows. I truly appreciate Nancy.

Jacki, myself, Nancy. History detective gals.

Jacki, myself, Nancy. History detective gals.

To the incredible Jacki Wilson, archivist at the Pensacola Historical Society, many, many thanks. Not only is she a great source of West Florida history, she knows the best places to eat. I’m lucky to count her as a friend.

To my wonderful hosts, Pam and Brett in Chipley, Emmett’s boyhood home. Pam and her family were gracious and hospitable; I felt right at ease and I was made to feel as if I were one of the family. Pam and Brett’s house is a museum itself; the house has been in the family for at least 100 years, and it is well loved. Emmett and his family were good friends of Pam and Brett’s ancestors; while I stayed there, I got the feeling that he had been there, too; probably also enjoying the hospitality in that house.

Pam and Brett have the most wonderful collection of antique books from Emmett's time (and earlier).

Pam and Brett have the most wonderful collection of antique books from Emmett’s time (and earlier).

I’d like to also thank the county court archivists in Escambia, Santa Rosa, and Jackson Counties. Special thanks goes out to Sue Tindel, archivist at the Jackson County Courthouse and local historian, who escorted me all over Marianna, and kindly located many sources of useful information about Emmett Wilson’s early years as a newly minted attorney.

Sue exploring historic St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Marianna. Cephas is buried in the cemetery behind the church.

Sue exploring historic St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Marianna. Cephas is buried in the cemetery behind the church. There’s also a brass plaque on the wall to the right acknowledging Cephas’ membership in the parish.

I’d also like to give a special thank you to Dorothy Odom, the head archivist at the Washington County Historical Society in Chipley. This is a woman who will not allow any obstacle to deter her in a quest for facts and data. This is a woman who was willing (and suggested it herself) to break into a display case to gain access to books so that I might simply check to see if Emmett’s name was there!

Dorothy moving artifacts in preparation to opening up a glass display case! I talked her out of it for the time being. It was too heavy, and there wasn't enough time. But I got a rain check.

Dorothy moving artifacts in preparation to opening up a glass display case! I talked her out of it for the time being. It was too heavy, and there wasn’t enough time. But I got a rain check to do it on my next visit.

Although we didn’t get into the glass case this time, Dorothy did hand me several large binders of receipts, promissory notes, deeds to look through — with surprising results! I’ll share what I found with you in an upcoming installment on the visit to Chipley.

There’s a lot of other folks I’ll mention — and thank — for the help while I was digging around for information on Emmett in Florida last week. For now, I have to dive back into the 21st century and work-related administrivia.

I’ll be back with more stories about the trip in a few days.

Just Call 1088 & Ask for Emmett

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According to my research, Emmett lived at the San Carlos Hotel, on and off between 1913 and 1918, although he gave his permanent address as the J. Walter Kehoe home. Because he spent so much time there, I’ve always been curious about what his room might have looked like. (The San Carlos was demolished in 1993; there’s a video of the demolition here.)

Here’s what I have:

The $1-a-day hotel room in the San Carlos, circa 1913. Source: Pensacola Historical Society

The $1-a-day hotel room in the San Carlos, circa 1913-18. Source: Pensacola Historical Society

This was considered the basic hotel room at the San Carlos, which would cost $1 a day. Larger rooms and suites went for $3 a day and up ($1 in 1913 is equal to about $23 today). While Emmett probably stayed in a suite when he was a U.S. congressman, he likely stayed in the basic room (like the one photographed above) when his congressional days were over.

What I thought was interesting was that every room in the San Carlos had its own telephone in 1913!

You might think, well, so what?

Between 1913-1918, not every home had a telephone. If you were lucky enough to have (or afford) a telephone, you shared a party line, unless you were rich enough to have your own line strung to your home or office. (Party lines were common in Florida until around 1948, and into the mid-1950s elsewhere.) What I’ve always thought interesting was that Emmett never had his own telephone, even though he was a hotshot, socially prominent lawyer in Pensacola. Wouldn’t a single man want his own line, separate from the family? He was making enough money at the time to afford it.

He’s listed in the telephone directories, but that phone number actually belongs to the Kehoe family.

Emmett's 'home address' is actually the Kehoe's address. Also, that's the Kehoe's phone number. Emmett didn't have his own, separate line. Source: Ancestry.com

Emmett’s ‘home address’ is actually the Kehoe’s address. Also, that’s the Kehoe’s phone number. Emmett never had his own separate line or number. Source: Ancestry.com

I digress.

Getting back to telephones and the San Carlos:

In 1913 telephone lines were still not strung directly from Pensacola to Jacksonville. Calls across Florida had to be routed up to Atlanta or Charleston and then back down to Florida — all of this with the help of operators. You had to think about it before you made phone call; no one does that anymore.

I mention the logistics of making a call to illustrate that if you wanted to call someone in 1913, it was expensive, even if the call was local. Some businesses in Pensacola that had phones were charging $5 for three minutes (or, $60 in today’s money) if the call was long distance. Local calls could set you back about $1 for three minutes (or, about $23 in today’s money). The San Carlos charged premium rates for phone calls; you could spend a fortune in phone charges alone if you wanted to call Washington, DC (which Emmett did while living there as a congressman).

Anyway. The fact the San Carlos Hotel had phones in every single room in 1913 was a super high-tech innovation for the time.

Still can’t see the phone?

It’s in the mirror reflection.

See it? No rotary dial. You had to speak to an operator. Source: Pensacola Historical Society

See it? No rotary dial. You had to speak to an operator. No texting capabilities, either.

I looked around to see if I could find some color photos. Here’s what I turned up:

Notice the bell on top of this one. I can't see a bell on the one in the PHS image, but it may be located lower on the box. Source: Pinterest.

Notice the bell on top of this one. I can’t see a bell on the one in the PHS image, but it may be located lower on the box. Source: Pinterest.

This one may be closer to what the San Carlos had in the rooms. Notice the bells are more flat on the top of the phone box.  This comes from a great phone information source page, by the way. Source: www.beatriceco.com

This one may be closer to what the San Carlos had in the rooms. Notice the bells are more flat on the top of the phone box. This comes from a great phone information source page, by the way. Source: www.beatriceco.com

Here’s another view of the same room:

Source: Pensacola Historical Society

The phone is directly above a bed. Too bad it couldn’t be placed on the desk. Source: Pensacola Historical Society

You can see the phone located right over the first bed, and not the desk (or the side table), a more logical placement today.

Here’s one more example of a hotel wall phone for 1913. Because some phones would also function as intercoms, this one may be closer to what’s on the wall in the San Carlos:

By the way, the reflection in the mirror shows the open connecting bathroom door (the white door), which is right next to the door to the hallway, with the transom over it.

I have no idea what the little white square is on the dresser; probably a complimentary night mask to cover your eyes so that you could sleep without having to stare at all the crazy patterns on every single available surface in the room.

Because the window on the left is so dark, and this appears to be a corner room, I can tell that this room was about where you see the oval, below:

Source: Pensacola Historical Society

Source: Pensacola Historical Society

 

It must have been quite a thrill to stay at the San Carlos in 1913. It was cutting-edge in many ways, from amenities to technology. Still, I’d not want to be the one sleeping in the bed with the phone directly over my head.

 

Leora Sutton & Pensacola Archaeology

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Friends, I am writing a letter to this woman today.

Leora M. Sutton, looking over pottery pieces from an excavation in Pensacola. Source: State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/84028

Leora M. Sutton, looking over pottery pieces from an excavation in Pensacola, 1966. Source: State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/84028

This is Leora M. Sutton, an amateur archaeologist and a historian who has written several research reports and articles about Pensacola, some of which center on Emmett’s time period. I’d like to get her impressions on Gilded Age Pensacola and some of the personalities she’s discovered in her research — some, hopefully, are identical to folks I’ve found in Emmett’s story. It’s possible.

One of Leora's published research reports. Source: Amazon.com

One of Leora’s published research reports. Source: Amazon.com

I just found out today that she’s 98 years young, and sharp as a tack. Unfortunately, she doesn’t have email — I’m reluctant to call a senior out of the blue about my research without some kind of proper introduction. I’ll write her a great letter, of course.

I’m so thrilled with the idea of talking to her, and discussing (hopefully) her take Emmett and his colleagues.

Leora has donated her personal papers and research to the University of West Florida, and the Pensacola Historical Society. There is quite a lot of scholarship there, rather impressive, given the fact she was listed as an amateur. I’d say her experience and publication record indicate otherwise.

This is a woman who loves history, who would probably like hanging out with me in a dusty old archive and sifting through papers, one-by-one, in search of that elusive, important clue about someone obscure, like Emmett Wilson.

This book is out of print; unfortunately. I wonder if, perhaps, Emmett's friend Minnie Kehoe is mentioned in this? Source: Google Books.

This book is out of print; unfortunately. I wonder if, perhaps, Emmett’s friend Minnie Kehoe is mentioned in this? Source: Google Books.

This is someone I can relate to, people.

Or, who I hope I can connect with, at least.

Anyway. So, what is it I hope to find in Leora’s work? Well…

Yesterday, I was looking through the finding aid on Leora’s research at the University of West Florida’s archive. At the very bottom, I saw this:

 

Restricted, eh? For me, that's like waving a red flag in front of a bull. I'm going after this. Source: www.uwf.edu

“The Bay Hotel and Liberty Street.” Restricted, eh? For me, that’s like waving a red flag in front of a bull. I’m going after this. Source: http://www.uwf.edu

A little more digging around revealed that The Bay Hotel was a well known whorehouse, and “Liberty Street” didn’t exist, but was actually the west end of Zarragossa Street, which was well known for houses of prostitution…

…and the report was probably restricted because it had names in it. Was Emmett’s name in it, I wondered?

So…I contacted the awesome Jacki Wilson at the Pensacola Historical Society, and asked her what she knew about Leora’s research report.

Jacki said that a few graduate students happened to be working with the report yesterday, and she’d ask them to look for Emmett’s name it it. She got back to me later to say his name wasn’t in the report. (Of course, that doesn’t mean he wasn’t ever there, but still. It is nice to know his name isn’t in that document, on file in a historical society, if you know what I mean.)

I’m interested now in knowing what makes it so ‘restricted.’ I wonder what names are included in that report; perhaps well known local political figures and other leaders who were ‘regulars’ at the hotel? Perhaps friends of Emmett’s? Since Leora wrote the original report, I’ll at least be able to ask her about what’s in it.

But more importantly, I hoping she came across Emmett in her research; perhaps she has his long-lost scrapbooks! Wouldn’t that be great?

The odds are slim, but you never know.

I’ll let you know what happens after I get in touch with Leora! Wish me luck!

 


 

By the way, the Pensacola archaeological project is interesting to read about. If you’d like more information, there’s another research report on Pensacola’s red light district by Jackie Rogers, here. There are also a few other sources, here and here. There is also a video from the Florida Public Archaeology Network about an exhibit about Pensacola’s red light district. Click on the image to launch the video.

Florida Public Archaeology Network. Source: FPAN

Florida Public Archaeology Network. Source: FPAN

 

Ironic Architecture

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One of the early hospitals in Pensacola was St. Anthony’s Hospital and Sanitarium, which also was known as the Pensacola Sanitarium. It was located at the corner of Garden and Baylen Streets.

Promo piece for Pensacola Sanitarium, which also went by St. Anthony's Hospital and Sanitarium. Source: Pensacola Historical Society.

Promo piece for Pensacola Sanitarium, which also went by St. Anthony’s Hospital and Sanitarium. Dr. EF Bruce was the physician who signed Emmett’s death certificate in 1918. Source: Pensacola Historical Society.

There weren’t many hospitals in Pensacola during the early 1900s; you certainly wouldn’t have seen a large medical center along the lines of what we know today.  St. Anthony’s looked like a lovely old home, and in fact, many hospitals in smaller towns like Pensacola were originally large homes or mansions refurbished into medical facilities. St. Anthony’s was privately owned, and could handle about 50 patients at once.

What I think is remarkable about the hospital was that the building was actually moved to another location. In 1907, the hospital was moved from the corner of Garden and Baylen to Garden and DeVilliers, and reportedly, it was ‘no small task’. Here’s the article on it from the January, 5, 1907 issue of The Pensacola Journal:

Notice what will be built at the corner of Garden and Baylen? The Osecola Club. Source: PJ, January 5, 1907.

Notice what will be built at the corner of Garden and Baylen? The Osceola Club. Source: PJ, January 5, 1907.

 

St. Anthony's Hospital, also known as the Pensacola Sanitarium, post move. Source: Pensacola Historical Society

St. Anthony’s Hospital, also known as the Pensacola Sanitarium, at Garden and Devilliers. Source: Pensacola Historical Society

The new building that replaced St. Anthony’s Hospital at the corner of Garden and Baylen was none other than The Osceola Club, a very expensive, exclusive men’s bar and social club. Membership in The Osceola Club in the early 1900s would have been limited to the equivalent of millionaires only today. Emmett certainly could not have afforded the annual membership dues on the salary of Assistant District Attorney in 1907 (which was $1700* a year, later $3500 when he was made District Attorney).

But, he was a member of the club. Odds are that he was able to barter legal services for some of the officers and important members, as necessary, to cover the basic annual dues, which did not include meals or the bar tab.

Osceola Club, corner of Garden and Baylen, taken around 1910. Source: LOC.gov

Osceola Club, corner of Garden and Baylen, taken around 1910. Located on the site of the original St. Anthony’s Hospital. Source: LOC.gov

The Osceola Club is significant in Emmett’s story.  According to family history, it was a wealthy member of this club who introduced Emmett to drinking. Drinking, of course, is what led to Emmett’s death.

St. Anthony of Padua. Patron saint of the lost.

St. Anthony of Padua. Patron saint of the lost.

What I found a bit ironic about this story of The Osceola Club was the fact it was on the site of a property once dedicated to St. Anthony: The patron saint of lost things, lost people, lost faith. People often invoke St. Anthony on behalf of loved ones lost to alcoholism.

Like Emmett.

The Osceola Club is no longer at the corner of Garden and Baylen. Today, there’s a Bank of America office on that site.

*$1,700 was the equivalent of about $34,000 a year in 2015 dollars.


 

Speaking of architecture, the workshop I am taking on story architecture is going well. Likewise, I am almost finished with a test of MindMeister, which I probably will use in the development of chapters in Emmett’s book.

I’m trying not to get over-organized in structuring Emmett’s story, but I like the idea of an interactive graphic map that I could manipulate easily as new information becomes available, or, if I need to tear down/rebuild a scene in a chapter.

More to come, folks. Stay tuned.

What Would Andrew Jackson Say?

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Yesterday, I mentioned that Emmett’s grandfather had a law partner, S.R. Mallory, and they worked in the Mallory Building in Pensacola during Reconstruction.

My friend and colleague, the excellent Jacki Wilson at the Pensacola HIstorical Society sent me this:

The Mallory Building, about 1925. It was located at the corner of Palafox & Interdencia Streets. Source: Pensacola Historical Society

The Mallory Building, about 1925. It was located at the corner of Palafox & Interdencia Streets. Source: Pensacola Historical Society

Jacki told me that what was on the original site of this building was Andrew Jackson’s house when he was the military governor of Florida in 1821.

Today, this is what is on the site:

Once the site of President Andrew Jackson's home. Today: the home of World of Beer. Source: Escambia County Property Appraiser's Office

Once President Andrew Jackson’s home. Today: World of Beer. Source: Escambia County Property Appraiser’s Office

From Andrew Jackson’s home to World of Beer. I wonder what President Jackson would say if he saw this today? He liked his beer; he just might approve of this.