Historic Pensacola Village
Summerdale, AL - Events of Tuesday, June 10, 2014
Pensacola, FL is only about an hour from where we were staying in Summerdale, AL. One of the things we have been wanting to see in Pensacola was Historic Pensacola Village. On Tuesday, we decided to take a day trip to Pensacola to check it out.
Historic Pensacola Village is a collection of buildings from the 1800s and early 1900s that is operated by the UWF Historic Trust, which is a direct support organization of the University of Western Florida. The buildings include several museums, numerous historic houses and a church. Several of the houses are open for self-guided tours, and several are open for in-depth, docent-led tours. The docent-led tours are at 11:00 a.m., 1:00 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. and last 1 to 1½ hours. There are also many other historic houses in the area that are privately owned. Although those are not open to the public, they add to the historical ambiance of the neighborhood.
Admission to the village is $6 for adults, and there is a $1 discount for AAA members, military and seniors. Since there was plenty of free, on-street parking, we found a space quickly and ended up being a little early for the 11:00 tour, so we had time to visit a couple of the buildings that were adjacent to where the tour starts.
We first visited the Museum of Commerce, which is located in an old warehouse adjacent to where we bought our tickets. Old carriages and wagons were displayed in front of a re-created street scene representing shops of the late 1800s to early 1900s.
An interesting conveyance on display was a quadracycle built for three. Two people sat in front and pedaled, and the third sat on the seat in back and went along for the ride. There weren't any handlebars for the third rider, so we're not sure how he kept his balance to stay on.
Visitors can peer through the windows of the shops to see artifacts on display.
A few of the shops are open so visitors can walk through the displays. One such exhibit was the print shop where one room features numerous antique printing presses and another room is set up as a newspaper office where the reporters were obviously working furiously to meet a deadline.
After finishing the Museum of Commerce, we still had a little time before the guided tour so we went to the nearby Manuel Barrios Cottage. The cottage was built in 1888 as a duplex with only one room in each unit. Today, the house has exhibits inside on the history of the "Roaring 20s" in Pensacola.
Next to the Manuel Barrios Cottage was the McMillan House, which had exhibits relating to WWII.
After seeing the McMillan House, it was about 10:55, so we went to meet up with the tour. The first stop on the guided tour was the Lavalle House. Built in 1805, this is one of the oldest remaining houses in the village. Originally located a couple of blocks away, it is a duplex that is an example of French Creole architecture.
Without insecticides or exterminators, one of the ways people dealt with bugs back in the 1800s was to place table legs into ring-shaped, ceramic saucers that could be filled with water. This discouraged ants and other creepy-crawlies from climbing up the table legs and getting into the food.
Next on the tour was the Dorr House. This house was built in 1871 by Clara Barkley Dorr, who was the widow of a lumber tycoon. Outside, the house is an example of Greek-Revival architecture. Inside, the design is early Victorian.
On the corner opposite the Dorr House is Old Christ Church. Built in 1832, it is one of the oldest surviving church buildings in Florida. When the original congregation moved to another location, the building was used by another congregation for a while, then it became a library and later a museum. Today, it is part of Historic Pensacola Village and is available as a special event facility.
The original stained glass windows were taken by the congregation to their new location. The window behind the alter is a reproducion that was made in the 1990s.
The last stop on our guided tour was the Lear-Rocheblave House built in the 1890s by John Lear, who was a maritime merchant, and his wife, Kate. The couple ended up getting a divorce and never occupied the home. It was subsequently purchased by Benito Rocheblave, who was a ship captain who smuggled guns to Cuban revolutionaries prior to and during the Spanish-American War.
Following the guided tour, we finished seeing the rest of the buildings that were open for self-guided tours. Adjacent to the Lavalle House that we saw earlier is the Julee Cottage. This cottage was built between 1804 and 1808. One of the earliest documented owners was Julee Penton, who was a free woman of color. Little is known about Julee, but it is believed she may have once been a slave, and it is also believed she may have owned slaves herself.
There were several costumed interpreters in the vicinity of the Julee Cottage. They added an atmosphere of authenticity to the village.
Our last stop was at the Museum of Industry. It is in another old warehouse located across the street from the one that houses the Museum of Commerce. This warehouse was built in 1884 for the Pensacola Ice Company. The Museum of Industry details many of the industries of Old Florida such as railroads, fishing, lumber and brickmaking.
Its hard to believe Florida with all its sandy soil had enough clay for making bricks, but it did. Millions of bricks from Florida went into the construction of forts along the Gulf Coast region following the War of 1812.
Lumber was also an important industry in Florida. Much of the state was covered in yellow pine, which is a very hard, durable wood. The museum had an old lumber mill on display.
The T. T. Wentworth, Jr. Florida State Museum is located a couple of blocks from the main part of the village and is also part of the UWF Trust. There is no admission charge for the T. T. Wentworth Museum, but our feet were getting tired by the time we had seen all the houses and other museums, so we decided to save it for another time. We were also getting hungry, and we still had one more stop we wanted to make before heading to The Gulf restuarant for a late lunch.
We learned about Joe Patti Seafood from Darrell and Judy, who are our friends who used to have a deeded lot at Rainbow Plantation. Joe Patti's has fresh seafood from all over the world.
We wanted to get some haddock and shrimp for the freezer. For an additional $1 a pound, Joe Patti's has shrimp that are already cleaned and de-veined. We're not that concerned about the size of shrimp for eating purposes, and the only reason we buy larger shrimp is they are easier to clean and there are fewer of them to clean for a given weight. If we can get the shrimp already cleaned, we can buy our shrimp one or two sizes smaller and still come out ahead on price without having to do all the work.
With our shrimp in the cooler, we headed to The Gulf restaurant for the late lunch we wrote about in our last post. We made a Walmart run on Wednesday and then did our pre-departure chores. On Thursday, we were off to our next destination. We'll tell you about it in our next post.