My Adventure Through Our Family Tree Branches

For over 50 years my Dad researched both his and my Mom's family tree branches - and loved every minute of it! Trying to fulfill the promise I made him the last month of his life, I have spent the past four years continuing where he left off - finding out about all the many family members who came before us, from the many branches of our family trees. The histories will still be published as my Dad always wanted. But what he wanted most was to share the stories of the people who came before us - the places they lived, the cultures of the times, the families they created, and the circumstances - good and bad - that would one day lead to us, their descendants. These are the stories of my Mom's families. . . .

Surnames in this Blog


Saturday, August 27, 2011

SATURDAY'S STRUCTURE - The Martin Horst House - Mobile, Alabama

Martin Horst House
407 Conti Street, Mobile, Alabama
Martin Horst (1830-1878), my 3rd great-Grandfather, commissioned George Woodward Cox to build his family home in Mobile, Alabama, in 1867. The house was built on the corner of Conti and Hamilton, at 407 Conti Street, for $26,000.

In a letter dated January 12, 1868, to his brother Charles (Carl) in Metropolis, Illinois, Martin wrote:
"I am just now finishing up my new dwelling I have been building which cost me twenty-six thousand dolls. Seven thousand more than I calculated on, and when I began last Spring I had only twelve Thousand Cash hoping at that time to collect by Jan. 1st at least six or seven Thousand dolls. that I could draw out of my business but so far I have not been able to collect one dolls. of this money and probable never will; as most people who owe any money are taking the benefit of the Bankrupt Law and than them is a very poor showing. At present I am paying one or two per. pr. for money I had to borrow as I could not collect what is due me four & five months ago. People are very indifferent about it whether they pay you or not the only Satisfaction they give you is; wait until I have some money then I will pay you. This are trying times down here. No money and no Business and none in Prospect. But had I known Six months ago that such time was in Store for us I would have kept my twelve Thousand dolls. in hand and could buy this day a house for it equally as good as the one I have paid 26,000. Nobody knew such things would come to pass. Houses do not bring the value of the Bricks this day, not one half of what they cost to build in 1860 or even two years ago. Such is the State of affairs all over the Southern States; and will remain so as long as radical Thiefs rule this once happy Country...."

Builder George Woodward Cox was born in London in 1814. An orphan, he was sent in 1828 by two sisters to live with his half-brother, William Cox, who was an established builder and contractor in Mobile. George Cox was an apprentice to his brother until William's death in 1832. In spite of this, Cox prospered; at the age of twenty-one he was a successful bidder for the United States Arsenal at Mount Vernon, near Mobile. He built other residences in the city. He died in Mobile in 1869.

from Historic American Building Survey
ca. 1971

Robert E. Lee bust in Parlor Archway
The house is a two-story, Italianate style home, L-shaped home, with a large courtyard and Carriage House. Wrought iron, original to the home, frames the front balcony and the fence surrounding the residence. The first floor of the home has a central hall, flanked by two rooms on the right, and a double parlor on the left. In the archway between the two parlors, Martin Horst had placed a bust in bas-relief of Robert E. Lee on one side, and Stonewall Jackson on the other. Upstairs there are two rooms on either side of the house. In the back of the home, in the service wing, there are two rooms separated by a stairwell on the first floor, and four rooms upstairs on the second floor. A large wine cellar is located below the service wing. Four fireplaces grace the first floor of the main house.

Front Gate of Home
Martin and his wife Apollonia (1829-1908) raised their six surviving children in the home, including my great-great-Grandfather Charles Frederick (1856-1912). They were well known for hosting impressive dinners, especially for their German friends, and celebrating holidays with their family in the home. Apollonia also supplied flowers from her garden to the Cathedral located nearby. Martin died in his home in October 1878. Apollonia continued living here, first with her adult children, later with their spouses. By the time of the 1900 U.S. Census, along with her young widowed daughter, Apollonia was taking in borders to help defray expenses. On April 24, 1908 Apollonia also died in her home, at the age of 80. Daughter Apollonia "Appie" Manson (1870-1942) continued living here, with her own young daughter Apollonia Manson (1894-1972) before remarrying and moving out. By 1920, the house was used only for borders - Jeanette Ellsworth, a 54-year single woman was the landlady, along with 20 borders from all over the country.

Bernard's Restaurant Menu

from Mobile Press-Register
July 11, 1965
In 1923 the house was sold to the Zougby family. Eventually the home came under extreme disrepair and it was set to be bulldozed in 1965 to make room for parking for the adjacent building. At this time the Mobile Historic Commission bought the building, then sold it in 1971 to Carl Brady, who agreed to restore and maintain it. During the mid-70's and 80's the building became Moongate Restaurant. Later the home became the site of Bernard's Restaurant, including outdoor dining in the courtyard.

The house has been called "The Martin Horst House," "The Horst-Zoughby House," "Moongate Restaurant" and "Bernard's Restaurant". It is now called The Ezell House, and is the site of weddings, receptions and parties. Their website has a "virtual tour" of the interior of the home -  The space is available for rent - I hope one day to rent the house for a "Horst Family Reunion" (hint, hint). My parents took me to Bernard's for lunch back in the '80's. I wish I would have paid more attention at the time.

The house was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on June 21, 1971.

The house also has a Facebook page - Martin Horst House - which you can check out and "Like".

1 comment:

  1. I visited Mobile in the 1980's with my uncles sister Grider Horst.I may have some information.I came upon your web site when looking up Horst house today.My daughter and I are visiting Mobile until Thursday.