Carrabelle Cares

Welcome to the Carrabelle History Museum

Carrabelle History Museum in the Old City Hall, Carrabelle, FL

The Carrabelle History Museum is proud to welcome you to our website. We would be even more happy to have you visit our museum in person. We opened in April of 2009. Residents of the town have generously shared their pictures, genealogy, memories, household and work items to build our collection.  We have several special displays that highlight Local Heroes, the Steamship Tarpon which key to building our community in the early 1900's and Carrabelle's "First People", natives who lived here thousands of years ago. 

Our Location

Visit the Carrabelle History Museum at 106 Avenue B, SE, in the heart of downtown. The Museum is one block south of US98.  Turn south on Marine Street and left (east) at the first corner. The Museum is the third building on your left.  We are within walking distance to the Carrabelle Visitors Center and the World's Smallest Police Station.

Our Hours

The Carrabelle History Museum is open Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 10 am to 5 pm. We gladly open any other day by appointment except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's.  Just call 850-697-2141 or 850-524-1153 to arrange a tour.  Field trips and buses are welcome. 

Admission Fees

Entry to our Museum is free but donations are always welcome.

Our Mission

The Mission of the Carrabelle History Museum is to preserve the history and culture of Carrabelle as a record of where we have been, how we got here and to serve as an inspiration for the future.

City of Carrabelle Tug at Lumber Dock, Carrabelle, FL, circa 1880s

History of the Carrabelle History Museum

The Carrabelle History Museum is a project of the local non-profit organization, Carrabelle CARES.  It started as an idea of the Carrabelle Waterfront Partnership found in their document, "Charting the Course for the Carrabelle Waterfront: A Vision Plan". It is sponsored by the Carrabelle History Society and the City of Carrabelle with support from the Franklin County Tourist Development Council with a community partnership from the Franklin County Public Library.  It opened in April of 2009.  It is staffed by volunteers and funded through donations, memberships and grants.

The museum is located in the Old Carrabelle City Hall built in 1933 as project of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) by local mason Marvin Justiss.  An anchor historical building in the heart of our historical downtown. The museum has 4 rooms to display its collections, a workroom/office for the volunteers to process the incoming artifacts and a nice long hallway for special seasonal displays.

Our Building

The building is the Old Carrabelle City Hall, the Marvin N. Justiss Building.  The City conducted its business here for 75 years. It was named in honor of the local brick mason who created each block and brick with hand-crafted local materials.  It was built in 1933 as project of the Works Progress Administration (WPA).  The structure is a two story brick vernacular style of that period.  Mr. Justiss is often called the "Father of Carrabelle" since he built over 119 businesses and homes throughout the 1930's when the town was rebuilt at its current location after being ravaged by storms and fires.  We are gradually rehabilitating the building with the help of the City and the Florida Department of State, Division of Historical Resources.

Carrabelle Historical Society

The Carrabelle Historical Society was founded in 2006 by patrons of the Carrabelle Branch of the Franklin County Public Library who were interested in the history of our town.  We began a collection of oral histories, genealogy information and yearbooks from Carrabelle High School.


The annual membership dues for the Carrabelle Historical Society are $15 individuals and $25 for families.  Members of the Carrabelle Historical Society are considered Friends of the Carrabelle History Museum.

Premiums Available

Items Available for a Suggested Donation

Historical Survey of the Archaeology and Architecture of the City of Carrabelle, Historic Florida Consulting, 2008. Excellent professional document highlighting the history of Carrabelle from complex native cultures dating back thousands of years to the present.  Filled with photos and maps.  Featuring the fascinating archaeology and architecture that makes Carrabelle unique. $20.00

My Carrabelle, a pocket book of poems written by local poet, Miss Mary Westberg.  $7.00

Gold Foil pressed image of the SS Tarpon suitable for framing.   $4.00

Dog Island Series Notecards.  Package of 6 Black and White sketches by Ruth Williams. Perfect gift for thank you notes and invitations.  $5.00

(Donations for these items go to the Carrabelle History Museum.)

Carrabelle CARES Bears:

Adorable 10 inch stuffed seated Baby Florida Black Bear.   $8.00

Bear Photos by local photographer John Hitron.  Matted 5x7 color photos. $5.00

Bear Tote Bags.  Sturdy natural color cotton cloth.  The John Spohrer photo on front is one of the twin bear cubs hand raised by Betsy Knight. $5.00.

(Donations for these items go to support efforts to protect the environment in Carrabelle with two annual coastal and river clean-ups.)


Past Exhibits



This Saturday, August 4 at the Carrabelle History Museum!


by Joan Matey

An unusual and memorable gathering took place in the fishing town of Carrabelle Florida this past Saturday.( September 3, 2011) A group of people all bonded by a shared family tragedy, and all having a bit of an obsession with the same old boat, came to the grand opening of the S.S.TARPON exhibit at the Carrabelle History Museum. Gathered were the descendants of the crew of the steam ship Tarpon, which sank less than

10 miles off the coast of Panama City in 1937 due to a severe storm, too much cargo and a proud, and overly determined captain.

Many were the grandchildren of survivors, some the relatives of the Second Mate who perished trying to save the 81 year old Captain. Almost all of the families reported having a photo of the ship somewhere in their homes. They were very excited to finally meet others with last names they were so familiar with. The Mattairs, McKnights, Smiths and Russells (and related families)) were able to share stories of the horrible ordeal, with details that their grandparents had told them so many times. Discussions included who was clinging to the hatch cover or the mast, plus comments on operations before the wreck.... like how much faster the roustabouts would work, when the captain was watching. The museum staff was able to get some positive identification on photos they were unsure of, and extra tidbits to add to the exploration of this fascinating, certainly film-worthy story.

The SS TARPON had a long career. She was part of Henry Plant's transportation empire in the late 1880s and part of Flagler's fleet at the turn of the century. The vessel was sold to a panhandle firm in 1902. TARPON served the northern gulf coast until its demise in 1937, carrying freight and passengers 'til 1930, and from then on, mainly hauling freight. The steam powered ship cruised weekly from Mobile to Carrabelle. Older folks referred to her as Carrabelle's Queen Mary. "This was a very significant era in the history of Franklin County and the Gulf Coast," said museum director, Tamara Allen.

To keep your curiosity high, I won't tell you the entire story in this article. The Carrabelle History Museum hopes that everyone will come to our friendly little town, check out our special exhibit, have a great seafood dinner and take a walk on our beach! (Remember we depend on you visitors to keep our wonderful restaurants going during the off -season.) "The Last Voyage of the S.S. TARPON" will be displayed through Thanksgiving weekend. The Carrabelle History Museum is open on Fridays and Saturdays or by appointment. Call (850) 524-1153.

(The Carrabelle History Museum is at 106 Avenue B Carrabelle FL 32322 [Behind the BP Station on Hwy 98]
Joan Matey is former manager of the 1843 Knott House in Tallahassee and is currently curator at the
Crooked River Lighthouse and the Carrabelle History Museum.) 

P.S Attention Divers: The remains of the wrecked vessel can be located via the State Underwater Archaeological Preserve. 


Tarpon Exhbit