Historic Sites in Pensacola, FL

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Pensacola is one of the oldest towns in Florida and is home to many historic sites. These sites span hundreds of years of history and include everything from archaeological sites to historic houses.

The following is a list of historic sites in Pensacola, Florida:

Emanuel Point I, II and III:

Address: Fort Pickens Road, Pensacola, FL

Emanuel Point I, II and III are the sites of historic shipwrecks from the fleet of Spanish explorer Tristan de Luna which sank during a hurricane in 1559. It is believed that six of de Luna’s 11 ships sank at Emanuel Point in the Pensacola Bay.

The shipwrecks occurred during de Luna’s expedition to Florida where he attempted to colonize Pensacola in 1559.

Emanuel Point I was discovered by archeologists from the Florida Division of Historical Resources in 1992, Emanuel Point II was discovered by the University of West Florida maritime team in 2006 and Emanuel Point III was discovered in 2016.

The Emanuel Point Shipwreck site was added to the National Register of Historical Places in 1996.

Fort Pickens:

Address: 1400 Fort Pickens Road, Pensacola Beach, FL

Built in 1834, Fort Pickens is a historic U.S. military fort on Santa Rosa Island in the Pensacola area. It is one of only a few forts to remain in the control of the U.S. army during the Civil War.

On November 22-23, 1861, the federal forces in control of the fort exchanged artillery fire with Confederate-occupied batteries at Fort McRee and Fort Barrancas, and with Fort Barrancas again on January 1-2, 1862.

The Confederate’s inability to capture Fort Pickens was the main reason why Confederate forces abandoned the Naval Yard, Fort Barrancas and Fort MacRue in May of 1862 and left Pensacola.

The fort also briefly served as a prison for Confederate soldiers and civilian political prisoners during the Civil War.

Historic Fort Pickens in Pensacola, Florida
Historic Fort Pickens in Pensacola, Florida

The fort remained in use until 1947 when it was decommissioned. It was added to the National Register of Historical Places in 1972.

Fort Barrancas:

Address: 3182 Taylor Rd, Pensacola, FL

Built in 1839, Fort Barrancas is a historic U.S. military fort built on a hilltop overlooking Pensacola Bay.

The fort is built on the site of previous early Spanish forts, such as Fort San Carlos de Austria which was built in 1698 and destroyed by French forces in 1719 and Fort San Carlos de Barrancas, which was built in 1787.

During the War of 1812, the fort was the scene of the Battle of Pensacola during which American forces fought against the British, Spanish and the Creeks.

From 1839 to 1844, the U.S. military reconstructed and expanded the fort in brick and renamed it Fort Barrancas.

The U.S. military deactivated Fort Barrancas on April 15, 1947 after WWII ended.

In 1960, the fort was designated a National Historic Landmark.

In 1971-1980, the fort was extensively renovated and it was later opened to the public as a historical attraction.

Hyer-Knowles Planing Mill Chimney:

Address: Langley Avenue, Pensacola, FL

Built in 1854, the chimney is all that remains of the Hey-Knowles Planing Mill, which was a steam-powered sawmill. When Confederate forces abandoned Pensacola in 1862, they destroyed the mills so they could not be used by the Union army. The only part of the building that survived was the chimney.

The chimney is a now a part of Chimney Park and was added to the National Register of Historical Places in 2012.

Pensacola Lighthouse:

Address: 2081 Radford Blvd, Pensacola, FL

Built in 1858, the Pensacola Light is a historic lighthouse located at Pensacola Bay.

The lighthouse is the third lighthouse constructed there. The first was a light ship called the Aurora Borealis. The second was a 40-foot lighthouse tower built on the south entrance of the Pensacola Bay in 1825. Then in 1858, the current lighthouse was built on the north side of Pensacola Bay and was lit on January 1, 1859.

During the Civil War, when much of Pensacola was taken over by Confederate forces, soldiers removed the lens from the lighthouse and requisitioned most of the lighthouse supplies for the war effort.

In November of 1861, the lighthouse was damaged when an artillery duel broke out between Confederate and Federal forces in the area.

The light was automated in 1965 and the lighthouse and its associated buildings were placed on the National Register of Historical Places in 1974.

St. John’s Cemetery:

Address: 610 North Spring Street, Pensacola, FL

Established by a local Freemason lodge in 1876, St. John’s Cemetery is one of the largest and most historic cemeteries in Pensacola.

The cemetery is home to more than 20,000 graves, which includes the graves of a notorious madam known as Mary Millie McCory, Florida Governor Edward A. Perry and train robber Morris Slater as well as many Confederate soldiers and generals.

The cemetery has many newly installed informational signs explaining the history of the cemetery and the historic graves located there.

Plaza Ferdinand:

Address: East Government St and, S Palafox St, Pensacola, FL

Plaza Ferdinand is a historic garden and park in downtown Pensacola. The plaza is the site where the formal transfer of Florida from Spain to the United States took place on July 21, 1821.

The plaza is named after King Ferdinand VI of Spain and the land where it is located was originally given to Don Manuel Gonzalez for his services as a farmer, military adviser and political representative of Spain. Gonzalez later donated the land to the city of Pensacola and opened a market there in 1816.

Historic Sites in Pensacola FL

The plaza was designated a National Historical Landmark in 1960 and was added to the National Register of Historical Places in 1966.

Historic Pensacola Village:

Address: 120 Church Street, Pensacola, FL

Historic Pensacola is a nine-acre historic district in downtown Pensacola that includes 30 historic sites and properties located on the site of the original Spanish and British forts in downtown Pensacola. About 11 of the properties are open to the public.

Some of the sites in the district include:

  • Old Christ Church: an Episcopal church built in 1832
  • Tivoli High House: a replica of a 1805 boarding house that once existed on that site
  • Lear House: a Victorian-style house built in 1890
  • Clara Barkley Dorr House: a Victorian-style house built in 1871
  • Manuel Barrios Cottage: a cottage built in 1888
  • Julee Cottage: a simple, wooden-frame building constructed in 1805 that was home to Julee Panton, a free woman of color who purchased the freedom of enslaved blacks
  • Barkley House: a high-house built in 1825
  • John Appleyard Cottage: a historic cottage built in the 1880s
  • Fountain Park: a park that was once a residential area in the late 1800s that was transformed into a park in the 1980s.
  • Colonial Archaeological Trail: a walking trail that connects a series of ruins and archaeological sites.

Sources:
“Museums.” University of West Florida, uwf.edu/university-advancement/departments/historic-trust/what-we-do/museums/
“Emanuel Point 2 (1559).” The Nautical Archaeological Digital Library, shiplib.org/index.php/shipwrecks/iberian-shipwrecks/spanish-and-the-new-world/emanuel-point-2-1559/
“Emmanuel Point II.” University of West Florida, flpublicarchaeology.org/anthro/ep2/
St. Myer, Thomas. “Third shipwreck from Luna fleet discovered.” Pensacola New Journal, 21 Oct. 2016, pnj.com/story/news/local/pensacola/2016/10/21/third-shipwreck-luna-fleet-uncovered/92487848/
“Plaza Ferdinand.” Visit Pensacola, visitpensacola.com/listing/plaza-ferdinand/2512/
“Fort Pickens, Gulf Islands National Seashore.” American Battlefield Trust, battlefields.org/visit/heritage-sites/fort-pickens-gulf-islands-national-seashore