Place: Windows

A son finds memories and solace in his late father's Mobile, Ala., law office.

Sitting at my Dad's old walnut desk, my elbows on the leather desk pad cracked dry with time, I gaze out his 24th-floor law office window. Past his now-silent Dictaphone, over the two dozen black bindings of the Code of Alabama lined up on his windowsill, over the snapshots of my mom, who passed away three years ago, I see the view that, like the possessions in this office, will forever belong to him.

There's the red terra-cotta dome of the Gulf Mobile & Ohio railroad station, now restored for offices and a bus terminal, where he took the train to Atlanta during the late 1920s to go to Emory Law School; the grain elevator and loading berths of the Alabama State Docks, which he represented as legal counsel for four years after World War II; the port of Mobile with its lazy brown river opening out to Mobile Bay, and all the sites where we launched a boat to go fishing when I was a boy.

For 40 years he looked out this window, having moved into this building once it opened in the mid-1960s, a 34-floor, white, cast-concrete structure—until this year the tallest, by far, in town—across the street from the 19th-century iron fountain and ancient oaks of Bienville Square, the historic heart of town. The office, with its sheetrock walls, is three rooms and a connecting hallway: the entrance area, with its secretary's desk and a typewriter giving way over the years to a computer; a small library with 1930s oak and glass-paneled bookcases; and the spacious room near the windows with his desk.

For more of this article, look for the March/April 2007 issue on newsstands or e-mail us to purchase a copy. 

For more photos, stories, and tips, subscribe to the print edition of Preservation magazine.