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Port St. Joe

Gulf County

Year Founded: 1913Previously known as: St. Joseph, Old St. Joseph

History

The City of Port St. Joe is located on the pristine shores of St. Joseph Bay in Gulf County. Known as the “Constitution City” Port St. Joe was incorporated July 1, 1913, and will be celebrating her 100th birthday next year. Formerly an industrial town, and now a tourist destination, there are approximately 3,500 residents in the City.

St. Joseph (1829-1844), was selected as the site for the first Constitutional Convention of Florida. Delegates began arriving the first weekend in December 1838. On January 11, 1839, the constitution was approved. The Territory of Florida was admitted as the 27th state of the United States of America on March 3, 1845.

At the height of the old City’s existence, it rivaled many of the better known cities, boasted a population of over five thousand and during the long hot summers became the favored location for plantation owners, professional men, planters and merchants from lower Georgia and Alabama. Sailing ships were leaving St. Joseph for such places as New Orleans, Mobile, Charleston, New York and Liverpool, England. The town had numerous banks, hotels, academies, parlors and points of interest. The Calhoun Race Track was one of the most popular places to gather in the area.

In 1835, the town boasted of the first steam Railroad in Florida and St. Joseph was also the place where the Democratic Party of the Territory of Florida was formed. The St. Joseph and Iola Railroad was completed in 1840 and provided another conveyance for guests to visit the City.

The demise of St. Joseph began with the failure of the railroads, a disastrous hurricane, yellow fever and a fire that leveled the town. In 1850, the City was completely deserted.

Story of City's Founding

In 1902, the shores of St. Joseph Bay had several small fishing huts that offered shelter to those harvesting the abundance of delicacies from the Bay. In 1905, Terrill Higdon Stone built the first permanent house, a log home, in Port St. Joe. John Maddox and his sons Fred and Roy were hired in 1905 to sound St. Joseph Bay for the deepest water to build a dock for the Apalachicola Northern Railroad. Early 1910 saw the completion of the tracks to the dock which allowed sea-going vessels to moor while taking on or discharging cargo. In 1914, merchant R. A. Costin built the first two-story brick mercantile store in Port St. Joe. Industry as a “new way of life” began in 1938 when the St. Joe Paper Company began formal operations of its paper mill. Other major industrial companies such as Michigan (later Basic Magnesium) Chemical and Glidden (later Arizona Chemical) Chemical provided work for many residents as did private and commercial fishing. The paper mill officially closed in 1998 and the other industries followed suit. Despite the closing of industries, the real estate boom and then bust, the City of Port St. Joe continues to be a tourist destination that affords residents and guests with the opportunity to enjoy “Old Florida Life” at its best.

Little Known Facts

Historical Sites

Name: Constitution Monument
Location: 200 Allen Memorial Way
Historical Significance: Location of First Constitutional Convention

Name: Old St. Joseph Cemetery
Location: 2482 Garrison Avenue
Historical Significance: Cemetery from Old St. Joseph

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