Martinson & Beason has been housed at 115 Northside Square in Downtown Huntsville since 1980, but both the firm and Northside Square have separate backgrounds that span over the course of Downtown Huntsville’s history.
Northside Square has existed for over 200 of years, and over the course of this time, countless shops and businesses have rented out the spaces. Photos of downtown Huntsville going back as far as the mid to late 1800s feature Northside Square, including this photo dating back to the Spanish-American War and this post card from the early 1800s.
One remarkable aspect of the Square is that the buildings have almost completely maintained their architectural integrity over these hundreds of years, which is fairly uncommon for buildings of this sort.
Our current building, 115 Northside (previously known as simply “Northside No. 8”) has hosted countless businesses throughout the years before we acquired it. It’s difficult to trace back the building’s entire history since it has stood for so long, but we have records going back as far as the 1930s for the building.
From the early 1930s onward until 1943, the building was occupied by a general store called “Fair Store General Merchandise,” and was surrounded by similar shops. However, in 1943, a man named Howard Gentle purchased the space and for the next 15 years would run a variety of businesses from it.
From 1943-1950 “Northside No. 8” served as a grocery store, known as “Gentle Howard Supermarket,” but in 1950 Gentle decided to convert the grocery into a furniture store and it became “Gentle Howard Furniture Co. Later, he converted the store into a finance company, which it remained until the end of the decade.
In 1960, Gentle sold the building and throughout the next decade, various small businesses would occupy the shop, including Mason’s Jewelry, Alabama United Insurance Co., Marja’s Women’s Clothing, and Dine Betta Restaurant. However, these businesses were short lived and moved in and out rather quickly. Also, by 1970, the buildings were “renovated” and stripped of their brick to accommodate for the architectural fashion of that time. The bricks have since been returned, as this style faded out after the 1970s.
After the short lived Dine Betta Restaurant closed, there was a brief vacancy followed by another restaurant, Koney Korner Restaurant, which existed until about 1977 when it finally closed, making way for our firm to move in.
In 1980, Martinson & Beason finally moved into 115 Northside Square, where we have remained ever since. But where were we before this?
History of Martinson & Beason
The firm began in 1937, when Doug Carroll Martinson started his independent practice. In the early years, the firm operated in a space at 503 Halsey Avenue, which is now gone and replaced with an overpass; however, in the late 1940s, he moved into the historic Terry Hutchens Building downtown.
The Hutchens Building, which is officially registered under the National Parks Service’s National Register of Historical Places, is a seven story structure built in 1925 as city’s first “skyscraper” and represents a rather unique style of architecture for Huntsville, as it is the only building in the city with Gothic Revival style architecture.
The building housed many high-level tenants, including large banking companies in Huntsville. From the late 1940s until about 1951, Martinson held his small law office on the second floor of this historic building.
By the early 1950s, the firm had moved to another prominent location in downtown Huntsville, known as the Uptown Building on Washington Street, which has since been torn down and replaced by the Clinton parking garage.
He remained at that location from 1965 to 1973, when the firm expanded to become Martinson, Manning, & Martinson. However, in 1974 they moved to another historic location, 203 Eastside Square.
Finally, in 1980 our firm’s history and that of 115 and 113 Northside Square crossed paths and we moved to this beautiful building, where we still operate.