Florida Historical Markers Programs - Marker: Bay

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Location:On Business 98 between Fairland and Friendship Ave.
County: Bay
City: Panama City
Description: Near this site on March 20, 1863, Confederate soldiers commanded by Captain Walter J. Robinson repelled a landing by Union sailors led by Acting Master James Folger of the blockading vessel U.S.S. Roebuck. The 11-man scouting party of Union sailors was seeking to locate a southern civilian vessel near the "Old Town" spring, when they were reportedly ordered to surrender by Captain Robinson. During the ensuing skirmish, several Union sailors were killed and wounded as they fled to their launch boat. Quarter, or safe passage, was requested by the remaining Union sailors to retrieve their dead and wounded. Total Union casualties were six dead and three wounded. Union sailors buried four of the deceased on nearby Hurricane Island, and a fifth sailor was interred by the Confederate soldiers. No casualties were recorded by the Confederate unit, which later became Company A of the 11th Florida Infantry Regiment. After the conclusion of the Civil War, the remains of the Union sailors were removed to the national cemetery at Fort Barrancas.
Sponsors: Sons of Confederate Vetrans, Camp 1319 and the Florida Department of State
Location:W. Beach Dr. near Balboa Ave.
County: Bay
City: Panama City
Description: Built in 1927 by A. A. Payne, a banker, and bought by John Christo, Sr., the house is significant in architecture, a mixture of styles typical of the late 19th and early 20th centuries which includes Neo-Colonial Revival and Italianate Villa influences and the accomplishments of John Christo, Sr., 1885 – 1973. He was born to a Greek family on a farm near the village of Kirte, Turkey. As war between Turkey and Bulgaria drew near, he left Turkey and came to America in 1912 at the age of 27. He had $50, which he borrowed from a relative in Turkey. His ship sailed to New York where he knew no one and was advised to travel by steamer to Jacksonville, Florida and from there to Tarpon Springs where he could communicate in Greek and get a job. He overcame the language barrier by obtaining a Greek-to-English dictionary. He got a job at a restaurant peeling onions, then was advised to go to Quincy, Florida where he was able to work, save and borrow enough to realize his dream to own and operate a five and dime store. Christo became so successful that he eventually owned 42 stores named Christo’s 5 Cents, 10 Cents and $1.00 Stores in Florida, Alabama and Georgia. He founded four successful corporations: Christo’s, Inc., Christo’s Stores, Inc., F & T Investments, Inc. and Christo Realty Company, Inc. The main office and warehouse for the five and dime stores was located at 437 Grace Ave., Panama City. The warehouse was the main merchandise supplier for the stores. He was successful in department store retailing, commercial real-estate investments, commercial building, organizing corporations, architectural design and draftsmanship, land surveying and helping others with their financial endeavors. He opened and operated 36 of the five and dime stores while residing at 940 West Beach Drive. He built three homes. The first was built in 1926 at 100 Allen Ave. He donated property to the State of Florida in 1951, doubling the size of Florida Wayside Park, Panama City Beach. The house is the birthplace of Jimmy and George Christo, twins, born on July 31, 1936 during an unnamed hurricane. The A. A. Payne – John Christo, Senior House is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Sponsors: The Christo Family and the Florida Department of State
Location:522 Beulah Avenue
County: Bay
City: Callaway
Description: The Callaway School House was built in 1911 (two years prior to the creation of Bay County in 1913) on the SW corner of Beulah Avenue and Letohattchee Street. Callaway had been surveyed and platted in 1908 by Pitt Milner Callaway for whom the community is named. AT that time students had to walk several miles through woods and across a small stream to Parker for instruction. “Grandma” Hettina Ettie Fox, who believed every child should have the opportunity to learn to read, spearheaded the drive to build a community school. Ella Callaway Carlisle donated the school’s land. The Washington County School Board, assisted by donations from the community, constructed the school. The first teacher was Kate McMillan. Although serving primarily as a school, it became a social center for the community, hosting church services, socials, Christmas parties, and as a polling place. After the school closed in 1936, the building was used as a church and later as a residence. In 1984, the school was sold to the City of Callaway for one dollar with the stipulation that it be preserved. The building was moved a short distance to John B. Gore Park and was restored by the Callaway Historical Society, Inc.
Sponsors: Sponsored by the Callaway Historical Society, Inc. and the Florida Department of State.
Location:U.S. 98 past Phillips Inlet Bridge West of Panama
County: Bay
City: Panama City
Description: St. Andrews Bay was a major source of salt for the Confederacy. An estimated 2,500 men were engaged in manufacturing salt of a very high quality. Containing numerous arms and an extensive shoreline, the landlocked Bay was sheltered and safe. Beginning in September, 1862, many Federal raids were directed against the works. Rebuilt as soon as Union forces destroyed them, the works remained in effective operation through February, 1865.
Location:3173 Airport Rd., In front of main terminal.
County: Bay
City: Panama City
Description: Established 1945 on Fannin Field, Panama City-Bay County Airport 1964 Panama City-Bay County Airport and Industrial District 1967 Developed and controlled by Representative Airport Authorities in conjunction with the Federal Aviation Agency Control Tower Erected by Federal Aviation Agency 1967
Sponsors: Bay County-Panama City in Cooperation with Florida Board of Parks and Historic Memorials
Location:On 3rd Court at Park Street.
County: Bay
City: Panama City
Description: The McKenzie House is a large two-story clapboard frame dwelling built in the Dutch Colonial style typical of the turn of the century houses still standing in Northern Michigan. It was built in 1909 by Belle Booth who married R.L. McKenzie in 1912; after which time the house came to be known as the McKenzie House. It stands today as it was enlarged in 1925. This house is significant because it was one of the first houses in a virtually unsettled area of Northwest Florida and because it was the home and office of Robert Lee McKenzie. McKenzie was born in Macon County, Georgia in 1870. He moved to the Florida Panhandle in 1902 where he became joint owner of a large naval stores business. After acquiring some waterfront property here he organized the Gulf Coast Development Company. The purpose of the company was to buy more land and develop it into a town site and to secure more waterfront property for a railroad terminal. In 1906 this purpose was realized when McKenzie persuaded J.B. Steele of Atlanta to choose Gulf Coast Development Company land for his new railroad which would continue south from Dothan with connections to Atlanta. Steele said "I want this to be Atlanta's outlet to the Panama Canal;" which suggested the new city's name. In February 1909 Robert Lee McKenzie was elected Mayor of Panama City. He also served two consecutive terms as State Representative from Washington county in the Florida Legislature (1909-11, 1911-13). McKenzie was a leader in the formation of Bay County. He was instrumental in getting a highway constructed to Pensacola. His work and dedication resulted in Panama City being the location of the International Paper Company. The "Drummond Cut," completed in 1938 opened the intercoastal waterway to the west and McKenzie was a leader in this project. During the war years McKenzie was Chairman of the Bay County chapter of the Red Cross (1941-44) and a member of the Selective Services Board (1940-47). On December 4, 1964, the park across the street was renamed McKenzie Park in honor of his devoted service to the community. R.L. McKenzie's place in the development of Panama City is secure. Most of the important events of the town's development for a period of over 50 years (1902-1956) are linked with his name and efforts. For 45 years (1912-1956) the office/library of the McKenzie House was the center of his activities and as such, gives real historic importance to the house and its place in Panama City history.
Sponsors: sponsored by the descendants of robert lee mckenzie in cooperation with the department of state
Location:Pitts Avenue 0.1 miles south of Aster Street
County: Bay
City: Parker
Description: This site, originally known as Riviere’s Landing, was named for the early settler, Henry L. Riviere and is commemorating the founding of the City of Parker. In 1836, William M. Loftin became custom’s officer for the St. Andrews Bay and operator of a ferry from this point to Ferry point across St. Andrews Bay. This endeavor was part of the road system constructed from 1834 to 1838 under the supervision of Major J.D. Graham. The “Old Military Road” as it was known ran from Apalachicola to Marianna and beyond, and was the major land route through the bay area. Loftin’s Ferry was the beginning of the community that Loftin, Riviere and U.S. Representative Joseph M. White developed and named “Austerlitz.” This is significant for in 1886 the name was changed to “Parker” honoring the two separate families of Peter Parker and William Henry Parker. The City of Parker was established in September 1967, by charter and has remained a thriving, growing community ever since.
Sponsors: City of Parker
Location:3001 W. 15th St. Panama
County: Bay
City: Panama City
Description: The first school in St. Andrews, a community established ca.1827, was built in 1850. That building burned down. The second school was a two-story wooden structure with two large rooms on each floor. The school had four teachers and 100 students. In 1925, that school burned, six weeks before the summer recess. On July 7, 1926, voters overwhelmingly approved the issuance of bonds totaling $60,000 to build the present school. E.D. Fitchner, a Tallahassee architect, drew the plans for the 12 classrooms and an auditorium. J.R. Asbell of Panama City was the contractor. St. Andrew(s) School has a Mediterranean Revival Style with classical motifs, and is most noted for its arched windows, red tile roof, and impressive auditorium. During World War II (1941-1945), due to the Wainwright Shipyard and Tyndall Air Force Base, the area grew so rapidly that the school had to go to double sessions. Through the years the building has been used for community events, such as plays, public service forums and educational films. St. Andrew(s) School was completely renovated in 1999-2002, and is the oldest continuously functioning school in Bay County.
Location:On U.S. 98 between Fairland & Friendship Aves.
County: Bay
City: Panama City
Description: The U.S. bark Roebuck, commanded by John Sherrill, was sent to St. Andrews Bay to prevent blockade running. On March 20, 1863, an 11-man scouting party landed in this vicinity to secure fresh drinking water. They were attacked by Confederates commanded by Captain W. J. Robinson. When ordered to surrender, the Union crew refused and two were killed and six wounded in the ensuing skirmish. The rest escaped to their ship. The Confederates had no casualties.
Sponsors: Florida board of parks and historic memorials
Location:300 E. 4th St.
County: Bay
City: Panama City
Description: This is the site of the landmark Gideon case, after which the Public Defender system was established in Florida and throughout the nation. In 1961, Clarence Earl Gideon (1910-1972) stood trial in this courthouse for the felony of burglary. Lacking funds to hire a lawyer, Gideon requested that a lawyer be appointed to represent him at trial. Gideon’s request was denied, because at that time, a person accused of a non-capital felony did not have a constitutional right to a free lawyer. Gideon represented himself at his trial and was convicted. While serving his five-year prison sentence, Gideon petitioned the United States Supreme Court to review his case. The Supreme Court issued its decision in 1963 in Gideon v. Wainwright, ruling that every poor person charged with a serious crime in this country must be provided a lawyer for his defense at public expense. Panama City attorney, W. Fred Turner (b. 1922) represented Gideon at his retrial and won an acquittal. Built in 1914, this building is one of only a few original courthouses in Florida still being used for its original purpose. A fire in 1920 gutted the building, but it was immediately rebuilt in its Classic Revival architectural style.
Location:At the intersection of West Beach Drive and East Caroline Boulevard
County: Bay
City: Panama City
Description: Between 1861 and 1865, the St. Andrew Bay Saltworks, one of the largest producers of salt in the South, contributed to the Confederate cause by providing salt, fish and cattle for southern troops and citizens. A necessary preservative in those times, salt sold for as much as $50 per bushel, and was produced in wood-fired saltworks on the perimeter of the West Bay, East Bay and North Bay and Lake Powell (a.k.a. Lake Ocala). An estimated 2,500 men, primarily from Florida, Georgia and Alabama, were exempted from combat duty in order to labor in the saltworks. The salt was transported to Eufaula, Alabama, then to Montgomery, for distribution throughout the Confederate states. Because of the importance of St. Andrew Bay Saltworks to the Confederacy, acting Master W.R. Browne, commander of the U.S. Restless, was instructed to commence a series of assaults beginning in August 1862. In December 1863, additional Union attacks occurred, which Confederate home guards could not resist. The attacks resulted in the destruction of more than 290 saltworks, valued by Master Browne at more than $3,000,000. The St. Andrew Bay Saltworks employees promptly rebuilt them, and they remained in operation through February 1865.