Florida Historical Markers Programs - Marker: Okaloosa
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- FORT WALTON
Location:on U.S. 98, 1.5 Blocks West of Brooks Bridge
City: Fort Walton Beach
Description: Originally called Camp Walton, this Confederate installation, constructed in 1861 to guard East Pass, was garrisoned by a company of Florida militia called the "Walton Guards". Several small skirmishes with federal landing parties occurred near here. The Camp was abandoned following the Confederate evacuation of Pensacola, and the garrison, a part of the First Florida Infantry Regiment, was assigned to duty on the Tennessee front in early 1862.
- OKALOOSA COUNTY
Location:101 E James Lee Blvd, at north entrance to Courthouse.
Description: Okaloosa is one of the newer counties of northwest Florida. It was created by the State Legislature in 1915 from land taken from Santa Rosa and Walton Counties. The influence of State Senator W.H. Mapoles of Crestview was an important factor in the creation of the county. Okaloosa contains extensive agricultural and forest industries, popular gulf coast fishing and bathing resorts, and important military installations. The county seat is Crestview.
- EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE
Location:S. John Sims Pkwy, Eglin Air Force Base East Gate Visitors Center
City: Fort Walton Beach
Description: Originally established on June 14, 1935, as Valparaiso Bombing and Gunnery Range with 1460 acres of land donated by James E. Plew, this site was renamed on August 4, 1937, for Lieutenant Colonel "Frederick I. Eglin, killed in an airplane crash. Eglin Field became a separate opening base August 27, 1940.
Sponsors: Dedicated by Mrs. Charles W. Ruckel,
Daughter of James Plew
In Cooperation With
The United States Air Force And The Department of State
- OKALOOSA COUNTY
Location:N. Main Street at south entrance to Courthouse.
Description: Okaloosa County, created by the Florida State Legislature in 1915, was formed from parts of Santa Rosa and Walton Counties. The influence of W.H. Mapoles, Sr., then a legislative representative from Walton County, was an important factor in the creation of the county. The name chosen for the new county was derived from Indian words variously interpreted as " black water," "pleasant place," or "a place of rest." The first county seat was Milligan, a sawmill town. In 1917, Crestview was selected as the permanent county seat. Okaloosa County's economy is based on agriculture, forestry, and tourism.
Sponsors: Sponsored by Board of County commissioners, Okaloosa County
in cooperation with department of state
- INDIANOLA INN, AN INDIAN MOUND, AND CIVIL WAR CANNONS
Location:113 Brooks St. SE
Description: The Indianola Inn, the second hotel in this area, was built on this midden mound in 1912 – the only structure ever permitted to do so. The inn burned in 1962, but the steps, foundation parts, and well head have been preserved. The inn had been condemned several days prior to the fire and the owners were to be notified the day after the fire. In 1927 the rate for staying at the inn was $25.00 per week including all meals, the use of a boat and guest services. The inn’s original owners were Mrs. Mary Frances Brooks Pryor and her husband. Mrs. Pryor’s father, John Thomas Brooks built the first hotel in the area, Brooks House, and later sold it leaving the Indianola Inn the only Brooks family hotel. Out of respect for the archeological significance of the mound the developers of the Indianola on the Water Condominium project did not disturb the mound area. The Indian midden mound, dating back to 500 BC to 1000 AD (The Woodlands Period), was a trash pile for early settlers of the Fort Walton Beach area. Fort Walton, Weeden Island, Santa Rosa-Swift Creek, and Deptford period ceramics were found during a 1966 archeological excavation. Artifacts such as animal and fish bones, pottery, eating utensils, and arrows were uncovered during an extensive 2005 archeological study conducted prior to the start of the condominium project. It is believed upper middle class Indians lived here, but there have never been any confirmed human bone findings. A button found in 1966 was attributed to a soldier of the Fort Walton Guard, commanded by Confederate Captain William McPherson. During the Civil War he used the cannon and this site to protect “The Narrows” of Santa Rosa Sound where it enters Choctawatchee Bay. At that time, the land extended several hundred yards farther into the Sound. Archeologists have suggested the height of the mound was raised by the Walton Guardsmen affording better cannon positioning. A cannon, discovered in the 1930s, was displayed on the Sound side of the Indianola Inn until 1962. The cannon was then moved to the Indian Temple Mound Museum, north of here. Three cannon balls, discovered in 2005, were used during this period. Based on their size, it is known that they were not shot from the cannon that was discovered in the 1930s. It is believed there is another cannon in this area that has not been unearthed.
Sponsors: NWEC DEVELOPMENT AND THE FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF STATE
- DR. BEAL'S SHELL MUSEUM (BEAL HOUSE)
Location:2820 W Hwy 98
City: Fort Walton Beach
Description: Dr. James Hartley Beal (1861-1945) was an influential pharmacist, chemist, lawyer, educator, and scientist. Despite his busy life, he began collecting shells, finding his first specimen, a “micrarock” in 1888. The Fort Walton Beach resident bought this house in the early 1900s. An artesian water well and supply system on the property became the start of the town’s first water system. The home was used by Dr. Beal as his office and housed his extensive shell collection. By 1940, his collection had grown to be the second largest shell collection in the world. The shells were donated to Rollins College, where they remained on display until 1988. They were then transferred to the Florida Museum of Natural History at the University of Florida, Gainesville. The house was extensively remodeled and converted into the Summerhouse Restaurant, which operated there from the 1980s until 2004. It was originally located at 2 Miracle Strip Parkway in Fort Walton Beach. The building was slated for demolition in the fall of 2004. In order to save the building, Dr. Beal’s former Shell Museum was purchased and moved by barge to its present location.
Sponsors: HUBERT ALAN LAIRD AND THE FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF STATE
- BAKER HIGH SCHOOL
Location:1369 14th Street
Description: The Town of Baker, a stop on the Florida, Alabama and Gulf Railroad, was platted in 1910 and grew up around the timber and turpentine industries. The site of the original Baker High School was owned by J.W. and Mollie McCart who sold the property to the Santa Rosa County Board of Public Instruction in 1914. Construction of the school, a two-story brick building with a basement, began in 1915, and opened for classes in January 1916. The school was heated by a wood stove, and students drank from an outdoor, hand-pumped well. The school was known as the Baker School, and operated as an elementary and junior high school until 1923, when a growing population required that it admit high school students. It was re-named the Baker High School that year and became the first accredited high school in Okaloosa County. In 1924, Baker High School graduated its first class with three students. In 1927, a new high school was completed across Jefferson Street in front of the old Baker High School. That building burned in 1953 and was rebuilt in 1955. The school’s gymnasium was built in 1958. New classrooms and a football stadium were added in 1970. The original Baker High School was renovated in 1957 and demolished in 1973.
Sponsors: Baker High Alumni and the Florida Department of State