I recently found a copy of Add a Pinch of Sand, a cookbook prepared by the Bay Elementary School P.T.A. in 1982. Perusing its pages is bittersweet as I see recipes submitted by some people who are now gone, such as Martha Corey, founder of the Coastal Heritage Preservation Foundation, and former Walton County Commissioner Bob Fleet.
The cookbook is sprinkled with advertisements, most for businesses that no longer exist. I would love to find photographs of those places, and I once again resolve to take photographs of buildings throughout the county as many are disappearing or being transformed.
I have lived in Walton County for twenty years, but I don’t think I visited Cajun Kitchen. I found an obituary for its original owner, Frank Gabriel LeBleau, that said, “His greatest joy was owning and operating LeBleau’s Cajun Kitchen in Santa Rosa Beach with his wife, Mary. The restaurant was an ideal setting for his natural skills and talents. He served the Santa Rosa Beach area in many ways: as a volunteer firefighter, a civic advocate, and a visionary leader. He was active in local politics.” He returned to his home state of Louisiana in 1994. It sounds as if that was our loss and their gain.
At some point, Angie and Greg Franklin owned the Cajun Kitchen. They are now the owners of the Busy Bee Café in DeFuniak Springs, and I look forward to visiting them soon.
Murray’s Theater was built in 1921 and later became the Ritz Theater.
“Requiem for a Heavyweight” was distributed in 1962, so this photograph is most likely from that era.
The theater is now called the Chautauqua Theater, and it is still used for theatrical performances.
Notes from Harold Gillis in September 1993 about the Ritz Theatre, which is on the east half of Lot 829 on Baldwin Avenue:
In 1888, the DeFuniak Land Company sold the east half of the lot to J. C. Scott, owner of the New York House [which burned down in the fire of 1898].
- In 1901, J. C. Scott sold the property to Sarah Murray.
- The Murray Theatre was built in 1921 by the Tappan brothers.
- In 1928, the theater was leased to Alabama Theatre Company.
- In 1930, the theater was leased for five years to D. B. White.
- In 1936, the theater was leased to Martin Theatre Group.
- In 1943, the theater was sold to Hugh G. Martin. [The Martin Theatre Group, owned by brothers, divided up the theaters.]
- On February 22, 1963, Martin Theatre was sold to John Lawson.
I purchased the following four photographs on eBay several years ago because they were reported to have been purchased at an antique store in DeFuniak Springs. Of course, that does not mean the people pictured were from the DeFuniak Springs area, but they likely have a connection to the area. If you can give any hints concerning the people in the photographs, please contact me.
This photograph, marked “House Party — Summer 1953,” was apparently taken in one of the beach communities between Pensacola and Panama City. I am hoping to discover the location as well as the identities of the people. The woman circled was Elizabeth Clyne Wickersham (1933-2004) and the man circled was Phillips Argrove Ammons, Jr. The couple married two years later.The Wickersham family once owned the house now known as Wash-a-Way in Grayton Beach.
A man in the back row, 7th from both the right and the left, is wearing a T-shirt that says “Camp Big Heart/Southeast Council/Staff.” Camp Big Heart was a Boy Scout camp near the Pensacola Beach bridge in what is now the Naval Live Oak Reservation, which is part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore in Gulf Breeze.
Perry Correll, the daughter of the circled couple, sent me this photograph. She provided this information that may give clues to identities:
- The man to her father’s right, sitting directly in front of the little boy, was his roommate Bob. Both Bob and Perry’s father were already in the US Navy when this picture was taken.
- The woman sitting in the wicker rocking chair and the woman to her right were her mother’s best friends. One was named Ann and the other Jane. Perry thinks the one in the plaid blouse may have been Ann Huffman or Ann Russell.
Any clues will be appreciated!
Construction on the house known as Sunbright Manor started about 1886, and it was completed around 1890. The original owner was J. T. Sherman of Brodhead, Wisconsin, who used it as a winter residence for his family. The exterior of the home is primarily white with black trim and has an octagonal tower, two round windows, and wrap-around porches with 33 columns and 1,600 spindles.
Sunbright Manor is often cited in books and websites as being haunted; however, few specifics are offered other than doors appear to open and close mysteriously and visitors “see odd things.” Sunbright Manor was purchased by former Florida governor Sidney J. Catts in 1924, and he lived there until his death in 1936. His wife, Alice May Campbell Catts, who was quite notorious around town for her driving skills (or lack thereof), lived in the house until her death in 1949.
The house has always been privately owned but was open to the public for a brief time in the 1990s. John and Byrdie Mitchell opened the “Sunbright Manor B&B” in 1995, but their license to operate expired in 1998. The current owners have renovated it beautifully.
One hundred years ago today–July 13, 1911– the following item appeared in The Breeze newspaper:
A Friend of ours, Gone.
Mr. J. C. Scott, one of the pioneer northern settlers of DeFuniak, passed away at his summer home in Chautauqua, N. Y., on the 30th of last month from a stroke of paralysis which attacked him on the 23rd. As proprietor of the old New York House which stood on the site where the merry-go-around pavilion now stands, he was known to hundreds of our winter visitors from all over the country. After that was destroyed in the big fire of 1898 he built the house which formed a part of Dr. McKinnon’s residence, and later moved to the cottage he built on 13th street.
Mr. Scott was a veteran of the war between the states on the union side and a veteran Odd Fellow.
The sympathy of a host of friends, both here and elsewhere who knew Mr. Scott.
The New York House advertised in the 1893 Chautauqua program that it was open. “We keep a first-class hotel. Everything comfortable and home-like. For special rates by the month or season write J. C. Scott, DeFuniak, Fla.” In the program, Scott was described as “so favorably known at New York Chautauqua.” The hotel was destroyed in the 1898 fire on Baldwin Avenue.
1898 was an eventful year for DeFuniak Springs. This photograph shows the aftermath of the “Big Snow” in the winter. The Lake View Hotel, in the foreground, was then called the DeFuniak Springs House. The New York House can be seen with its tall imposing tower, and the triangular front of the W.L. Cawthon building is clearly visible.
The photograph above was taken by T. Hope Cawthon on Saturday, September 17, 1898, from the post office. The block of Baldwin Avenue between Seventh and Eighth streets was filled with businesses, and both the freight depot and a small portion of the passenger depot are visible on the right. The Opera House had closed, and the building was then owned by William Lee Cawthon. His brother Burruss still operated a general store on the first floor. According to notes compiled by Harold Gillis, on Monday, September 19, 1898, at about one o’clock in the morning, Theo Lanz, who was a notary, was awakened by a fire alarm that was connected to his room upstairs in the Cawthon building. There was a fire in the back room of the Cawthon store. He fired his gun to sound an alarm and climbed down a post in front of the store.
Harold Gillis noted, “The intense heat from the Cawthon building soon fired the meat market of D. L. McLeod on the corner and rapidly did it move eastward. . . . The freight depot had . . . been ignited and was in ruins. The passenger depot was in jeopardy but was saved. The stores and offices south of the railroad were at different times on fire. The post office was low and could be reached but in spite of this it seemed determined to go. The Chautauqua hotel was on fire several times but was saved.” After the last ember was extinguished, a total of 28 structures had been destroyed, including some homes, the Cawthon building, Landrum’s Drug Store, the New York House, and the Lake View Hotel. The photograph above was taken by T. Hope Cawthon from the same location on Monday morning, September 19, 1898.
[Text and images from Images of America: DeFuniak Springs. (c) 2008 Diane Merkel]
One hundred years ago today–July 6, 1911– the following item appeared in The Breeze newspaper:
The following telegram which was sent to the DeFuniak delegates at Moultrie last Friday created no little amusement when read by Mr. Storrs, in his argument before the committee:
“All the world loves a lover” as the good old adage goes, and as Walton county furnished the first bridal couple to traverse the proposed highway, we move that the highway, Moultrie to Pensacola, be established on this the shortest route, and be christened “the honey moon route to the gulf.”
It was signed by the DeFuniak Springs Commercial Club and sounds very much like W. L. Cawthon.
Moultrie is in St. John’s County, west of St. Augustine. I am not sure what highway was proposed; perhaps it was the current Highway 98. Any information about it will be appreciated.
Below is a photograph from the wedding day of Marie Wesley and Kenneth Robert Swinford. The photograph was taken at the Wesley house (now Eden) in Point Washington in December 1938 and is courtesy of Jim Wesley. Marie and Kenneth are flanked by Marie’s parents, who owned the home, William Henry Wesley and Katie Marie Strickland Wesley.
Jack Mattair of Southampton and New York City offered the following identifications, for which I thank him:
Front, left to right:
Flower Girl – Caroline Marie Wesley, known as Carol, daughter of one of the two sons killed on the same day.
William Henry Wesley, Marie Wesley Swinford, Kenneth Robert (Bob) Swinford, Katie Marie Strickland Wesley
Charles Wesley (with glasses), the minister who performed the ceremony, and Jewell Rachels Wesley.
Lucious (Bill) Wesley (Jimmy’s father), Sarah Rachels (Jewell’s sister), Edgar Wesley.
Top row unknown – may have been Bob’s friends from the University of Florida.
Little blonde girl – Roice Burlison Brett, sister of Jack [Burlison] Mattair, who died when she was 36, leaving two sons.
If you can identify others in the photograph, please let me know.