Florida Historical Markers Programs - Marker: Escambia





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Escambia

ALGER RAILROAD / CENTURY, FLORIDA
Location:on U.S. 29 at Hecker Rd. in wayside park.
County: Escambia
City: Century
Description: Side 1: This site is 300 yards west of former location of tracks of The Alger-Sullivan Lumber Company logging railroad which ran from Century to Alger-owned timber lands in Alabama. Ninety miles in length, the railroad hauled prime virgin longleaf logs for manufacture of lumber and export timbers at the Century mill, the largest in Florida. Logging crews lived in railroad camp cars on sidings. Oxen were used in the woods to skid logs to the railroad for loading. Railroad discontinued operation in 1942. Side 2: Founded in 1900 to house mill employees of the Alger-Sullivan Lumber Company founded in 1900 by General Russell A. Alger- Governor of Michigan, U.S. Senator, and President McKinley's Secretary of War - and by Martin H. Sullivan of Pensacola. Edward A. Hauss led the company from 1901 to 1957 and pioneered in reforestation to perpetuate timber resources. Century and Alger recall the names Colonel Frank Hecker, Henry Glover, W.D. Mann, David Miller, Houston Jones, Larry Nelson, and Marion Leach.
Sponsors: Florida Board of Parks and Historic Memorials
HAWKSHAW
Location:on South 10th Ave., grounds of Gulf Power
County: Escambia
City: Pensacola
Description: The Hawkshaw site has supported prehistoric and historic occupations which span a period of nearly 2,000 years. It was inhabited around A.D. 150 by groups of Native Americans whom archaeologists call the Deptford Culture. Scientific excavation of the site revealed hundreds of trash pits containing food remains and household debris which provided detailed information about the daily life of these prehistoric people. They sustained themselves with the abundant marine resources available in the area. Hawkshaw is important to archaeologists because the remains of the Deptford Culture are not mixed with those of other Native American cultures. For this reason the site gives a very good indication of what life was like during Deptford times. The next time the site was used was the middle of the 18th Century when the Spanish built a brick kiln here before 1761. A little later, during the British occupation of Pensacola (1763-1783), a complex known as the Governor's Villa was built nearby for Peter Chester, Governor of the Province of West Florida. The Villa was burned in 1781 by the troops of General Bernardo de Galvez during his recapture of Pensacola for the Spanish. After Florida was acquired by the United States in 1821, Hawkshaw became part of a plan to create a "New City" to serve the railroad industry. The New City Hotel was built in 1836 with over 100 rooms. It remained in operation into the 1840's. After the failure of the "New City", Hawkshaw evolved into a working class neighborhood whose residents were largely employed by the industrial and commercial establishments associated with lumbering and the railroad. It became the first of Pensacola's outlying black neighborhoods. Hawkshaw's waterfront once contained Wright's Lumber Mill, which could cut 30,000 board feet of lumber a day in 1882, and the Muscogee Wharf, which served as a coaling station for the Louisville and Nashville Railroad. After the destruction of Wright's Mill during the 1906 hurricane and the decline of the lumber and railroad industries, many of the residents of Hawkshaw became "baymen" who earned their living by loading ships, fishing and gathering shellfish.
Sponsors: sponsored by gulf power company in cooperation with the department of state
TRADER JON'S
Location:South Palafox and Main Street
County: Escambia
City: Pensacola
Description: This building was erected in 1896 and rented to numerous businesses until the 1950s. One of the most significant tenants in the early 1900s was Samuel Charles, one of Pensacola's most prominent black businessmen, whose shoe repair shop became Pensacola's largest shoe repair and sales store at that time. In the 1920s the building was occupied by Birgar Testman's ship chandlery. Since the early 1950s the building has been owned and occupied by Trader Jon's, a favorite haunt of U.S. Navy and other military personnel. The tavern has gained international fame for its unusual and extensive display of military memorabilia which surrounds the clientele.
Sponsors: The Historic Pensacola Preservation Board in Cooperation with the Florida Department of State
SITE OF THE FIRST METHODIST CHURCH OF PENSACOLA/SITE OF THE SAN CARLOS HOTEL
Location:1 North Palafox St.
County: Escambia
City: Pensacola
Description: Side 1: Pensacola's first Methodist congregation was established in 1821 by Alexander Talley, M.D. It met in a series of small, wood frame churches until 1881, when construction of a three-story, Romanesque Revival sanctuary was begun on this site. Services began here in 1884, but the building was not completed until 1890. The handsome red brick bell tower and gabled entrance portico of the church marked this corner of Palafox Street until 1909, when the property was sold and the congregation moved to larger facilities on East Wright Street. Side 2: The imposing, seven-story structure opened on this site in 1910 as the city's largest and most elegant hotel. Designed by the well known New York architect W. L. Stoddard, it was built by the local firm of C. H. Turner Construction Co. at a cost of $500,000. Its simple masonry design was embellished with Renaissance Revival exterior details. It was extensively "modernized" and expanded from 157 to 403 rooms in the 1920s, and continued to dominate the Palafox streetscape for the next 50 years. Increasing competition and gradual deterioration led to its closing in 1982. It was demolished in 1993.
Sponsors: The City of Pensacola, the First United Methodist Church of Pensacola and the Florida Department of State
HYER-KNOWLES PLANNING MILL
Location:Scenic Highway Between Langley and Bohemia Dr.
County: Escambia
City: Pensacola
Description: The Chimney is the only trace of what once was the first major industrial belt on the Gulf Coast, a string of antebellum wood mills and brick factories. The chimney represents the lumber industry of the Florida Panhandle. As the lumber industry prospered in the 1850s, local mills employed 600 people and produced almost 55 million feet of lumber. The bricks in the base of the chimney bear the mark of J. Gonzalez", showing that they were produced at the local brick plant of James Gonzalez. The chimney was part of the steam power plant for the Hyers-Knowles Mill. In March 1862, General Braxton Bragg was evacuating the Confederate forces holding Pensacola when Confederate Secretary of War Judah P. Benjamin gave the order to "Destroy all machinery private and public, which could be useful to the enemy; especially disable the sawmills in and around the Bay." The machinery from the mills was loaded onto barges which were moved into Escambia Bay. On March 10th a thunderstorm and large waves sank the barges. That same night the Hyer-Knowles Mill was burned, and all that is left is the chimney
Sponsors: City of Pensacola and the Florida Department of State
FIRST JEWISH HOUSE OF WORSHIP IN FLORIDA
Location:800 N Palafox St
County: Escambia
City: Pensacola
Description: Jewish families in Pensacola began organized worship following the Civil War. On this site in 1876 a Reform Jewish Synagogue was constructed. The State of Florida granted a charter in 1878 for Congregation Beth El. Temple Beth El joined the Union of American Hebrew Congregations in 1889 and engaged its first Rabbi in 1892. The original temple was destroyed by fire in 1895. It was rebuilt in 1898 at this site, but that building was also destroyed by fire in 1929. The current synagogue at 800 North Palafox Street dates from 1931. Temple Beth El is Florida's first formally recognized Jewish Congregation.
Sponsors: TEMPLE BETH EL AND THE FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF STATE
CHRIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH
Location:18 West Wright Street
County: Escambia
City: Pensacola
Description: Christ Church, founded in 1827, was incorporated by the Legislative Council of the Territory of Florida in 1829. The first church, constructed in 1832, still stands on Seville Square. Later, Chicago architect John Sutcliffe and Pensacola contractor A.D. Alfred built a new church on this site at Wright and Palafox. The first services were held here by the Reverend Percival Whaley, rector, on Easter Sunday, 1903. The exterior of the building is unchanged since then, and its Spanish Baroque architecture reflects the city’s heritage. The building’s brick walls are covered with pebble-concrete stucco. A tiled narthex leads to the nave where wooden pews seat 600. The gable roofs have barrel tile surfaces and a copper-covered dome over the transepts. From the days of the Reverend Joseph Saunders (1836-1839), Christ Church has been involved in community outreach. Since then, members have been leaders in the city’s growth and development. Historic Christ Church was the mother congregation of Episcopalians in Northwest Florida and one of seven churches in the state when the Diocese of Florida was founded in 1839. The present Christ Church was the site of the Primary Convention of the new Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast in 1970
Sponsors: CHURCH WARDENS AND VESTRYMEN OF CHRIST CHURCH AND THE RECTOR OF CHRIST CHURCH
NORTH HILL PRESERVATION DISTRICT
Location:401 West Gonzalez St., Alabama Square
County: Escambia
City: Pensacola
Description: The North Hill Preservation District occupies a 50-block area bound by Blount, Wright, Palafox, DeVilliers and Reus Streets, and represents one of the best preserved residential historic districts in Florida. After the Civil War, wealthy families left areas near the waterfront to build grand houses on Pensacola’s North Hill. From 1890 to the outbreak of World War I--between 1914 and 1918--as Northwest Florida entered the lumber boom era, local forests of yellow pine provided prosperity and building materials for many of the stately houses now treasured in the North Hill Preservation District. Another surge of growth occurred during the 1920s as a new generation of wealthy Pensacola citizens moved to the area and extended North Hill to its current northern border of Blount Street. From 1930 onward, homes typical of their periods were built on remaining available properties. As a result of its gradual development, architectural styles in North Hill are unusually varied including Queen Anne, Neoclassical, Tudor Revival, and Art Moderne. Through the dedicated efforts of community leaders, North Hill was designated as a preservation district in 1973 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Sponsors: NORTH HILL PRESERVATION ASSOCIATION AND THE FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF STATE
HISTORIC JOHN THE BAPTIST CHURCH
Location:101 N. 10th Avenue
County: Escambia
City: Pensacola
Description: This is the site of John the Baptist Church, one of the oldest Baptist Churches in Pensacola. In 1846 the First Baptist Colored Church of Pensacola, known today as Historic John the Baptist Church, was organized in the Seville Square community. The church served black and white Baptists until the Civil War (1861-1865). Retreating and invading armies threatened to burn Pensacola, causing all residents except 72 white and 10 black people to relocate to Alabama. During the war, African-American Baptists kept this, the only Protestant church in Pensacola open. After the war, a dispute arose between black and white Baptists regarding the church property. In 1866, black Baptists wrote a letter to the Freedmen’s Bureau explaining that the black Baptists purchased the property and “upon it erected a place of worship.” The letter also explained that the property had always been in use of the congregation and that since the war others claimed control of it. In 1870, the black congregations relocated, under the leadership of Rev. Robert Ahrens (c. 1833-1925), to this site in the Hawkshaw community. The Seville Square church housed a Freedmen’s Bureau school and the church at Hawkshaw housed a school for children and adults
Sponsors: The Congregation of John The Baptist Church and the Florida Department of State
ST. JOSEPH CATHOLIC CHURCH
Location:140 West Government Street
County: Escambia
City: Pensacola
Description: The Sisters of Mercy began the Catholic Church's work for blacks in Pensacola when they opened St. Joseph Colored and Creole School on September 8, 1879. St. Joseph Catholic Church, built in 1891, was the 1st African-American parish in the Diocese of Mobile. The first Church was a two-story frame building. The present Gothic revival style church, built in 1894, cared for the needs of African-Americans, Creoles, Germans, Italians, and Irish immigrants. In the 1920's, Fr. Charles Hartkoff, the church's second pastor, built and opened St. Joseph orphanage which took in homeless African-American boys. In 1939, Fr. Joseph J. Raleigh closed and reopened one school operated by the Sisters of Charity of Convent Station, New Jersey. Two years later, St. Joseph High School opened, the only Catholic African-American high school in the state of Florida at the time. At its height, St. Joseph's operated "Maryall Negro Missions" which included four chapels: Mary Immaculate, Our Lady of Victory, Our Lady of Fatima and Our Lady of Africa. Other ministries included Our Lady of Fatima Mission School and Our Lady of Angels Maternity Hospital for African-American women located beside the Church's grammar and high school
Sponsors: sponsored by the Knights of Peter Claver, Council 223, and the Florida Dept. of State.
ORIGINAL SITE OF PENSACOLA JUNIOR COLLEGE
Location:Lee Square on North Palafox Street
County: Escambia
City: Pensacola
Description: On this site, Pensacola Junior College (PJC) opened its doors on September 13, 1948. It was the first public junior college created by the Florida Legislature under the Minimum Foundation Program Act of 1947, signed into law by Governor Millard F. Caldwell. The Escambia County School Board received authority to establish the college. District staff Jesse Barfield and Margaret Andrus helped James L. McCord, principal of Pensacola High School, prepare the initial proposal and continued as faculty. McCord became the first director of PJC. The Aiken Boarding House provided classrooms for the first 136 students. James H. Allen, president of Florida Pulp and Paper Company, contributed the first two year’s rent for the facility. In June 1953, the College moved one block south to the old Pensacola High School. On May 13, 1955, Governor LeRoy Collins signed a bill appropriating $1,243,000 to the college, which resulted in the 1956 purchase of property on 9th Avenue, now the college’s main campus. Pensacola’s Booker T. Washington Junior College was established as Florida’s first black junior college in 1949, and at the height of the Civil Rights Movement, merged with PJC in 1965.
Sponsors: BY THE PENSACOLA STATE COLLEGE BOARD OF TRUSTEES and the Florida Department of State
KUPFRIAN'S PARK
Location:Avery Street Just East of N Pace Blvd
County: Escambia
City: Pensacola
Description: Established by German immigrant Conrad Kupfrian (1833-1892), the 100-acre Kupfrian’s Park opened in the early 1880s and provided a distinctive entertainment and recreational venue for Pensacola residents for over thirty years. Kupfrian constructed amenities such as a German-style beer garden, a racetrack surrounding an infield lake, and numerous picnic pavilions nestled among his park’s large live oak trees. One of the park’s greatest contributions to the growth of Pensacola was its connection with the creation of the city’s first public transportation system. An astute businessman, Kupfrian was one of the founding owners of the Pensacola Street Car Company, and he made certain that the company’s service extended two miles northwest of the city center to terminate at his park’s main gate. As the city grew during the 1920s, the popularity of Kupfrian’s Park waned, eventually being replaced by coastal venues accessible by the newly constructed Pensacola Bay Bridge. Today, the park’s original structures are gone, but many of its oak trees and infield lake remain. Kupfrian’s Park is an important reminder of the many contributions made by immigrant entrepreneurs to the multi-cultural growth of modern Pensacola.
Sponsors: The Kupfrian Park Homeowners Association, The Escambia County Board of County Commissioners, West Florida Historic Preservation, Inc., and the Florida Department of State
FIREFIGHTER VISTA S. LOWE
Location:Seville Square
County: Escambia
City: Pensacola
Description: At this site on September 30, 1962, Firefighter Vista Spencer Lowe, age 23, died in the line of duty while responding to a house fire at 409 East Zarragossa Street. Upon arrival at the scene, Firefighter Lowe stepped from the rear tailboard of the pumper he was riding (Engine 5, a 1957, 1,000-gallon Seagrave Pumper Truck), tripped and fell to the ground. Unaware of Lowe’s location, the pumper’s driver began backing his truck, trapping Lowe under the truck and crushing him. Lowe was the third firefighter with the Pensacola Fire Department (PFD) and the 33rd Florida firefighter to lose his life in the line of duty. Lowe’s death caused the PFD to change its rules and regulations governing standard operating procedures and training methods, requiring that no fire apparatus be backed up at any time without a department member directing traffic. As a result of these changes, no firefighter with the PFD has since died in the manner in which Firefighter Lowe lost his life in 1962.
Sponsors: Sons Matthew D. and Mark D. Lowe and the Florida Department of State