Collections & Exhibits

This exhibit space tells the story of Carrabelle’s earliest history from prehistoric to Carrabelle’s boom time. Some of our most fascinating, local artifacts are housed here including our Native People's exhibit; a diorama of the local skirmish during the Civil War created by one of our talented artists, Fred Aman; a large, original Civil War-era salt kettle; the founding of the Town of Carrabelle; the history of the railroad in Carrabelle; the actual surveying equipment used to produce the 1957 map of the City of Carrabelle; and fossils like sharks' teeth and ancient oyster shells.

Especially of note in this room is our growing collection of artifacts from Carrabelle’s “first people” who lived here over two thousand years ago. The Apalachee tribes were a prehistoric people who had many villages along the shore of St. George Sound and all the local rivers in those times. Their Council House and Temple Mound was located in the Tallahassee area near Lake Jackson. Over 40,000 members of the tribal family lived between the Apalachicola and Aucilla Rivers. Archaeologists have found evidence of villages, middens (garbage piles) and burial grounds within the city limits of Carrabelle and several others in the area. Carrabelle is thought by some to have been an important trade port during that time, as it was after the Civil War, because of its natural deep water port at the confluence of three rivers.

This room features many photos of Carrabelle families and artifacts actually used by “Miss Ruth” Varner, “Miss Janie” Brown and other local treasures. One of the highlights of this room is the photos of families from the pioneer days to the present. Photos, scrapbooks, and genealogy records about many of Carrabelle’s families. A butter churn, an icebox and an old wash board are reminiscent of earlier times when home life was hard without modern inventions.

The Carrabelle High School exhibit highlights high school sports trophies across the decades, starting from the 1930s, including football and girls’ basketball. Vintage cheerleader outfits, letter sweaters, stadium cushions, band jackets and cafeteria trays show the transition from Carrabelle Mullets to Green Devils and finally the Panthers. High school yearbooks, school team and activity photos, and school portraits are featured as well.

Also displayed in this room are iconic Carrabelle businesses from years past including Burda’s Drug Store, Julia Mae’s, and White Kitchen Café to name a few. Photos, menus, a large commercial mixer, old Coca-Cola bottles bottled in Apalachicola, a vintage cash register, a slot machine, and more are filled with nostalgia for the beloved restaurants and shops.

Here we find a room filled with artifacts and photos of various industries such as seafood, logging, naval stores, mechanics and gas stations that have supported the economy of Carrabelle through the years. Highlights in this room include a shrimp net with a turtle excluder, oyster tongs, handmade nets, sponge diving helmet, and oars. Interesting equipment from Jackson's Standard Station, Ganders Hardware and Bragdon's Garage each have a story. Milton Cox's cat face cutter was use to get the rosin out of pine trees to make naval stores such as turpentine, tar and pitch.

This exhibit is filled with items and photographs of the people, places and events important to the residents of Carrabelle. We have items such as the medical bag of the beloved midwife "Miss Tillie" Miller. Local heroes are highlighted, like famous baseball icon, John Jordan "Buck" O'Neil. Buck was a famous first baseman and manager for the Kansas City Monarchs, was one of the first black scouts in Major League Baseball, and was the first black coach in the Major Leagues with the Chicago Cubs.

A special display pays tribute to several local men who served, some of whom also sacrificed, in our country’s Armed Forces. The exhibit honors several men from Carrabelle who served in the military representing WWI, WWII, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.

In addition, the original "World's Smallest Police Station", featured on The Today Show, Ripley's Believe It or Not, and The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, can be found here.

The SS Tarpon was a huge steam-powered cargo and passenger ship that traveled from Mobile, AL to Carrabelle, FL every week in the early 1900s. It sank on September 2, 1937 during one of her weekly voyages. At the time of her sinking, this 160-ft steam ship had made the journey every week for over 30 years - over 1,500 voyages - with the same captain, Captain Willis G. Barrow. This exhibit shares the harrowing story that cost at least 18 people their lives, and the heroic efforts of a crewman, whose bravery and determination saved many others.

SHIPWRECKS OF DOG ISLAND

THE LEGEND OF TATE'S HELL SWAMP

CARRABELLE HISTORY LIBRARY

ABOUT 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. Our museum is located in the Old Carrabelle City Hall. It opened in April of 2009. 

 

AN ANCHOR BUILDING IN THE HEART OF OUR HISTORIC 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. 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 during the Depression as a work program to employ locals. 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. The building has undergone extensive restorations and the museum plans to expand into the newly refinished upstairs exhibit area very soon.

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Carrabelle’s Old City Hall wins a 2020 Florida Preservation Award

One of the most long standing efforts of the Carrabelle Waterfront Partnership over the past 12 years has been the restoration of Carrabelle’s Old City Hall and its reuse as the Carrabelle History Museum. The partnership between the City of Carrabelle and the Carrabelle Historical Society was recognized on Thursday, July 30, 2020 by the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation with a 2020 Florida Preservation Award.

These Florida Preservation Awards recognize people, organizations and communities who have worked to protect Florida’s extraordinary history and heritage. The Florida Preservation Award “nominations were made by the public with recipients selected by a jury from around the state representing a variety of backgrounds and experiences” according to the press release from the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation. “Although we are living in unprecedented times, it was important to us to continue our work recognizing excellence in historic preservation in our state,” said Florida Trust Board President Friederike Mittner. “Thank you to our award winners for all they do for preservation in our state.”

Now home to the Carrabelle History Museum, Carrabelle’s original City Hall was constructed in the1930s Depression Era. “The restoration of this vital part of Carrabelle’s history was and is an important achievement”, says Tamara Allen, Director, Carrabelle Historical Society and Carrabelle History Museum. “The mission of the Carrabelle Historical Society is to preserve the history and culture of Carrabelle and to serve as an inspiration for the future. Rehabilitating the Old City Hall, such a significant anchor in the heart of our historical downtown, is a meaningful part of that mission.”

This project’s success was due to a true cooperative effort of many partners - the Carrabelle Waterfront Partnership, Carrabelle Historical Society, Florida Department of State–Division of Historical Resources, the City of Carrabelle, MLD Architects and Godfrey Builders. According to the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation, “The project promotes the concept that sustainability of a historic site begins with its ability to engage its community. The Historic Carrabelle City Hall is not only significant for its long-standing association with the history of Florida, but also because of its past and future legacy of a commitment to serve, teach, inspire and support both current and future generations.”