Developed as a port city during the Ottoman modernization process, Mersin displayed distinctive characteristics that differentiated it from the traditional Ottoman city in terms of urban fabric and cultural diversity. The Republican era brought a rapid modernization of institutions, structures and urban life. Its emerging international commercial relations and business opportunities made Mersin a very attractive city in the region. As a result, a new way of life that was different from what existed in other Anatolian cities developed. It triggered the advent of different examples of urban land use, particularly evident in buildings erected during the Republican period for cultural and educational purposes, such as the People's House. This study investigates the urban development of Mersin during Ottoman and Republican modernization periods, focusing on a significant educational building: the first high school of the city, Tevfik Sirri Gur Lisesi, named after the governor of the period. The education policy of the Republican period of modernization is discussed, and the urban development of Mersin, including construction of Tevfik Sirri Gur Lisesi, is analyzed in historical context.