Top 6 Places for History Buffs to Visit in the Navarre Beach Area
Santa Rosa County was officially founded in 1842, and we have our fair share of incredible historic sites. Whether you like architecture or antiquities or just cool-looking places, come explore our Top 6 Historic Places to Visit.
- The Imogene Theatre – 6866 Caroline St., Milton
After the Great Milton Fire of 1909 destroyed a large portion of the downtown area, the Milton Opera House was built and opened in 1913. Upon changing ownership, the building was renamed the Imogene Theatre after the owner’s daughter. The theater operated for almost 30 years, showing classics like Gone with the Wind and The Wizard of Oz, but shut down in 1946. The Santa Rosa Historical Society purchased the theatre in 1985, and with the help of state grants, the society saved The Imogene and reopened it to the public in 1987. Today the theatre is still in use for shows, concerts and more.
- The West Florida Railroad (L&N Depot) Museum – 5003 Henry St., Milton
Chartered in 1881, The West Florida Railroad connected the Florida Panhandle all the way to Jacksonville. When it was first built, the area was so sparsely populated that it only had two depots: Marianna and Milton. Service went on for decades, with passenger service peaking in the 1920s, when six trains a day would stop in Milton. After the railroad’s final run in 1971, the depot was eventually turned into a museum to commemorate this piece of Florida’s locomotive history. Today you can see the railroad’s car displays, outbuildings, memorabilia and even a gift shop.
- The Bagdad Village Museum – 4512 Church St., Bagdad
The Bagdad Village Museum is housed in the restored New Providence Missionary Baptist Church building, originally built in 1886. Owned and maintained by the Bagdad Village Preservation Association, the museum contains exhibits that showcase local history, including Civil War period artifacts and photographs.
- Arcadia Mill
Arcadia Mill in Milton was the first and largest 19th century water-powered industrial complex in Northwest Florida, opening even before the founding of Santa Rosa County. Between 1817 and 1855, the Arcadia complex ran a sawmill, lumber mill, shingle mill, textile mill and an experimental silk operation, amongst other things. The site of a few Civil War skirmishes, the area became a historic protected site in the 1960s. Today, you can go on a guided tour of the site, and there are a variety of seasonal programs available to learn more about the area
- St. Mary’s Episcopal Church and Rectory
Located in Milton, the St. Mary’s Episcopal Church and Rectory is also known as the McDougall House. Erected in 1867, the building is small and humble, yet beautiful. In The Aesthetics of American Architecture, Frank Lloyd Wright described St. Mary’s as “a jewel created in the purest tradition of the Gothic Revival. It survives today with its pure lines intact, its muted color untouched. Purity, it is without a blemish.” Today, the church still stands and is the site of many weddings wanting a traditional, cozy setting.
- Historic Districts
Besides specific sites, there are hundreds of incredible and protected buildings in our various historic districts. Come explore:
- The Bagdad Village Historic District, which is roughly bounded by Main, Water, & Oak Streets, Cobb & Woodville Roads, Cemetery, Pooley, & School Streets and contains around 143 buildings on 1400 acres.
- The Milton Historic District (where you can see St. Mary’s Episcopal Church), is roughly bounded by Berryhill, Willing, Hill, Canal, Margaret, & Susan Streets and contains 117 buildings also on 1400 acres.
See these amazing locations that have stood the test of time. Imagine the history that took place here, and let us know what you think!