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[graphic] 2005

Mount Tabor Missionary Baptist Church in The Campground historic district
Courtesy of Mobile Historic Development Commission, photo by Shaun Wilson
The Campground historic district has played an important role in the historical development of the predominately black community of Mobile, Alabama, since the third quarter of the 19th century. The area received its name from the encampment of Confederate troops who protected Mobile from Union forces during the Civil War and who abandoned it in April, 1865. After the Union troops entered the city, many of the recently freed slaves settled in the outlying districts of Mobile. The landowners, mostly white, built rental housing on small plats for the working class African Americans who lived in the area. Although an 1868 survey map references the Campground and indicates an early plan for development, deeds from various landowners reveal that development actually progressed between 1888 and 1906.

Streetscapes of Lola St. east (above) and North Ann St.
Courtesy of Mobile Historic Development Commission, photos by Shaun Wilson

The neighborhood known as the Campground continued to grow steadily throughout the early 20th century. Largely a working class neighborhood, a professional middle class including doctors, dentists, businessmen, schoolteachers, nurses, secretaries and postal carriers emerged and residents lived harmoniously intermingled. Despite the restrictions imposed on the community by segregation, some notable prosperous individuals worked and owned businesses along Davis Avenue and in the downtown area. One such person was Dr. James A. Franklin, the only African American to graduate from the University of Michigan in 1914 and for whom the Franklin Memorial Clinics are named, who practiced medicine here for 53 years. After the end of segregation, Davis Avenue and other areas declined economically as numerous businesses and residents relocated to other areas of the city. However, the population migration proved temporary, as plans were made to recognize and preserve the neighborhoods and buildings that had been historically associated with the black community. Davis Avenue was renamed Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue in 1986 and since that time, community and civic leaders have sought to revitalize the area. The Campground consists of roughly 10 city blocks, bordered on the north by Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue, east by North Ann Street, south by St. Stephens Road and west by Rylands Street. While some distinctive bungalows, traditional cottages, shotgun houses and neo-classically inspired residences are present in the district, the majority of dwellings are cohesively small and vernacular in character. The Campground was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on July 7, 2005.

Bethel Baptist Church | Foster Auditorium | Howard High School
Prince George's Co., MD
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