Florala History

Stories and Information of Florala, Alabama

Turnquist Eiland Baker houses

Will Turnquist came to Florala in 1905.  He and his brother Fred were tailors for Hart, Shafter and Marx in Chicago, IL. Will’s wife became ill in Chicago and it was recommended by her doctor that she live in a warmer climate. Will Turnquist built the house at 109 south 3rd Street in 1905 and convinced his brother, Fred, to also come to Florala. He thought both could do well there as tailors in this newly bustling town.  The brothers had a tailor shop in Florala for many years. The Turnquists were originally from Sweden. Will Turnquist eventually moved to Tulsa, OK around 1918-1919 and sold the house to Charles Baker. Charles Baker (no middle name) served as superintendent of Covington County schools beginning in 1917.

 2006

 

Charles Baker (1879-1928)

 

 

Turnquist-Baker house. Will Turnquist built this house in 1905. It was purchased by Charles Baker around 1920.

 

 

Painting of the Turnquist-Baker house

Andalusia Star article about Charles Baker

Margaret Baker and her Lockhart Jr High 2nd grade class (1952-53)

The Turnquists were good friends with the Bakers. Margaret Ray (Baker) got to know the Turnquists when passing their house (below) as a young lady. She and her sisters walked to the lake from their home on 5th St and passed the Turnquists who were frequently on their front porch. When she married Charles Baker in 1916 the young couple bought the house next door. The sellers, Will Turnquist and wife, let the new couple borrow their dining set “for as long as they needed it”. The table remained “on loan” in that house for 66 years! In one respect this was convenient for the parents and grandparents because the children in the house were always reminded to sit up straight “because the chairs belonged to the Turnquists”. After the death of Margaret Ray Baker in 1986, the dining set was dutifully returned to the Turnquist heirs. A Turnquist granddaughter married an Eiland (Lewis) and resided in the Fred Turnquist house until recently.

Fred Turnquist house

Fred Turnquist house. This house was built in 1906 by Fred Turnquist. It faces the Florala Wetlands Park.

The above picture is of Jessie Ray (foreground) and Bridie Hughes. We estimate that the picture was taken around 1907-1910. If you enlarge the image and look closely in the background you will see both the Turnquist-Eiland house (left) and the Turnquist-Baker house (right).  The Turnquist-Baker house had a slightly different roof profile then due to a chimney fixture. The Turnquist brothers and their families lived in the houses at the time of this picture. The marsh area (now Florala Wetlands Park) was not nearly as dense in vegetation as now. Stumps are evident in the picture showing that trees were cut from this area, maybe for building purposes or perhaps a better lake view.

The Turnquist Tailor shop was located in the Flatiron building. The picture below (ca 1905) seems to be a promotional photo made for the businesses in this building.  Will Turnquist, Fred and nephew Wilmer Turnquist are seen in the upstairs windows at their shop. The Florala News, owned for several years by William C McLauchlin, was also housed in this building. The Flatiron building still exists (see below). It was so called because of its trianglar shape – like the Flatiron/Fuller building in New York City(1902). Its shape allowed the Central of Georgia railroad track to pass behind it at an angle as it traversed 5th Ave.

3 Comments

  • By The Mom, October 23, 2010 @ 10:49 am

    Thank you for the fascinating background on Florala, AL. I had grandparents who lived in Samson and Opp, and I used to shop in Florala as a child. I am trying to determine the date when the brick Presbyterian church was built for a story I am writing about the area.

  • By bill, October 26, 2010 @ 1:02 am

    Hi, the brick building (Presbyterian Church) was under construction in 1929–apparently started in 1927 and finished sometime in 1929–just in time for the stock market crash and the collapse of one of the two local banks…..the plans were apparently changed (made smaller) at least once during construction–causing delays and ‘re-do’s’ along the way–and a rather strange roof configuration in the back today….very hard to keep dry! Because of the world’s financial panic of 1929, certain things were just never done –it was over 70 years before the pipe organ was added–and there has never been a bell in the big tower–even though it was constructed to mount one…….

  • By Dick, February 9, 2011 @ 11:50 am

    Mrs. Margaret Baker taught me in the 2nd grade at W.S. Harlan. I’m proud to tell people to this day that Mrs. Baker taught us all to recite the multiplication tables all the way to 12X12.

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