A vacant lot today occupies the southwest corner of Royal and St. Michael streets. But from the early 1800s till 1932, a building known as the Lafayette Hotel occupied the space and contained the offices of The Mobile Register.
The building is believed to have been constructed in 1804, and that the city entertained the Marquis de Lafayette there on his visit to Mobile in 1825.
During its ownership by William R. Hallett in 1830s, the building was known as the Lafayette Hotel and the sketched image above is how it appeared in 1860. In 1861, the title passed to Caroline Roper who changed the name of the building to the Roper House. The building continued as a hotel until purchased by the Mobile Register in July 1872.
Before the newspaper moved into the building, workmen gutted the building and then braced it with iron beams and pillars. On the first floor, accountants occupied the front rooms and the printing presses the rear. On the second floor were the offices of the publisher and editorial staff. Compositors, who sat at type cases 20 hours a day in shifts, occupied the entire third floor, one great room facing Royal Street. The news and telegraph room occupied the third floor.
The building remained the home of the paper until the consolidation of the Register and the Press in 1932. The iron work shown in the sketch was removed before 1935.
Connected to the back of this building and running along St. Michael Street to St. Joseph Street was the building housing The Mobile Item, which was acquired by the Register and became the News-Item. The site of the building is now a plaza.
|Mobile News-Item Building fronting on St. Joseph Street at St. Michael.|
|Site of the Mobile News-Item today.|