Peeking into the Past: Civil War Exhibit
Posted: Apr 9, 2019 8:14 PMUpdated: Apr 9, 2019 8:14 PM
Walking up the staircases of Fort Pickens, the aged brick battlements give way to a breathtaking panorama of sandy beaches and sparkling shores of the Gulf of Mexico. The salty breeze and swaying palms are a few of the calming characteristics found while exploring the Gulf Islands National Seashore. However, some of the past inhabitants of the fort did not share the same peaceful, easy feelings as the modern-day visitor. Nearly 158 years ago, the fort’s inhabitants were caught in the crossfire of the Civil War battle of Santa Rosa Island. On October 1, 1861, gun smoke replaced the early morning fog as Confederate troops attacked the Union site at Camp Brown. The camp was left in ruins as Union troops retreated into the fortified walls of Fort Pickens. Unbeknownst to the Confederates, Fort Pickens had been reinforced with hundreds of Union troops who were able to fend off the attack and maintain Federal control of the area. The ransacked remains of Camp Brown were nearly forgotten throughout the turbulent years of the Civil War. However, the protection provided by Gulf Islands National Seashore allowed for incredible preservation of the ruins of Camp Brown. In 2016, a team of archeologists was able to define the area where Camp Brown once stood, uncovering numerous artifacts that help tell the story of Civil War strife. Among these artifacts are a Bowie knife scabbard tip, clothing fragments and uniform buttons that have given archaeologists insight into the lives of those who wore them. These artifacts are currently on display in Downtown Pensacola until June at the University of West Florida’s Destination Archaeology Resource Center located on 207 E. Main Street. The exhibit “Smoke on the Water - The Archaeology of Camp Brown” is open to the public Monday through Saturday from 10 am - 4 pm. [PHOTO CREDIT:]
Uncovering History Downtown: Old Christ Church
Posted: Mar 21, 2019 10:24 PMUpdated: Mar 21, 2019 10:29 PM
The year is 1832. The pioneers out west lead the first wagon train across the South Pass of the Rocky Mountains. Up north, the first horse-drawn street car debuts on the busy streets of New York City. And in our little town of Pensacola, Florida, the doors of Old Christ Church are opened.Built by an unknown architect under the hot Florida sun and the firelight of a lantern, Old Christ Church is one of the oldest surviving church buildings in the state. Its prominent steeple, arched doorways and flawless symmetry are characteristics of the Norman-Gothic architectural style. Tradition tells that Old Christ Church was modeled after the Old North Church of Boston—made famous by the historic ride of Paul Revere. The stately church is a focal point of Seville Square, drawing your eye to its white brick facade seen through the low hanging branches of historic live oaks and Seville orange trees. Many famous Pensacola inhabitants, whose names are commonly seen on street signs, witnessed the same beauty and contributed their efforts to the church congregation. Prominent Pensacolians Dr. John Jackson Scott, the Baars and Aiken families, Dr. Percival Whaley and P.K. Yonge were members of the congregation during times of peace, war and growth. Old Christ Church has not solely been a place of worship in Pensacola’s history. It is also a burial ground and reminder of the hardships of the Civil War. Three former rectors, Joseph Saunders, Frederick Peake and David Flower, are buried underneath its vestry. At the outbreak of the Civil War, just two families in the congregation remained in Pensacola—the others fled to Alabama until the war’s end. Federal troops converted the church into a hospital, barracks and stables. When the parish families and rector finally returned from exile and began to rebuild their lives, Old Christ Church played a large part.  According to church records a stolen Bible was returned to Old Christ Church some forty years after the Civil War ended. Hand-written inside was the notation: “To its former home with a deep sense of justice and the feeling of brotherly love to all in the church of which I am a member.”The last service held in Old Christ Church was more than 115 years ago, on Good Friday, April 10, 1903, at 5:00 in the afternoon. Though weekly services are no longer held there, Old Christ Church stands as an important reminder of Downtown Pensacola's rich history, and continues to serve the community as a museum, gathering place and historic landmark. It is a popular stop on guided tours of historic homes and buildings led by Historic Pensacola each Tuesday through Saturday at 11am and 1pm.
Free Tours of Spanish Tall Ship Elcano Mar 31-Apr 4
Posted: Mar 21, 2019 6:02 PMUpdated: Mar 28, 2019 9:55 PM
Spanish tall ship Juan Sebastián de Elcano returns to Pensacola March 31 and will host free tours through Thursday, April 4. The "Elcano," as she is known, is the third largest tall ship in the world, a magnificent four mast brig-schooner weighing 3,770 tons. Considered by her native country to be a "floating embassy,"  the Elcano's main mission is to train future Spanish Navy officers in navigation and seafaring procedures and techniques. Her most important task is to immerse midshipmen, in their fourth academic year, in continuous and intimate contact with the sea, an environment where they will later carry out their main professional activities. The ship’s home port is in ‘La Carraca’ Arsenal (San Fernando – Cádiz) where most Spanish Maritime Action Force units are based. This port is a station especially devoted to the maintenance and repair works of other naval units. The name ‘Carraca’ derives from the term used for an ocean-going boat – Carrack – much used in the 15th century.Captain Ignacio Paz Garcia of Ferrol, La Coruña, Spain and his crew will sail the Elcano into Pensacola Sunday, March 31 at 9am to celebrate the 500th Anniversary of the beginning of the Magellan – Elcano Expedition, the first circumnavigation of the globe. This expedition ended under the leadership of Ferdinand Magellan’s captain, Spanish Sailor Juan Sebastian de Elcano.The ship will be docked at NAS Pensacola, and free public tours will be offered Sunday, March 31 from 3-6:30 pm., Tuesday, April 2 from 1-6:30pm, Wednesday, April 3 from 1-6:30pm, as well as Thursday, April 4 from 3-6:30pm (tour dates and times subject to change). The Elcano will depart NAS Pensacola on April 5. [PHOTO CREDIT:]
Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day on the Emerald Coast
Posted: Feb 27, 2019 6:25 PMUpdated: Feb 27, 2019 9:02 PM
Downtown Pensacola is no stranger to proper St. Patrick’s Day observances. And this year, as in years' past, you'll find not one celebration but rather a full array of chipper shenanigans.  Celebrate Ireland’s rich heritage with the world-famous “Celtic Woman” at the Saenger Theatre on March 2. It's a cultural masterpiece layering the ethereal voices of Ireland’s premier singers with the powerful harmonies of a full orchestra. Since its 2005 debut, “Celtic Woman” has traveled the world, gracing millions of people with a repertoire of Irish classics, contemporary songs and classical favorites.  On March 9, thousands will gather for one of Pensacola’s biggest and most renowned events: the 42nd Annual McGuire’s St. Patrick’s Day Run. The festive tradition is expected to draw more than 12,000 participants, making it one of the largest 5Ks in the United States! Costumed and un-costumed runners and walkers are welcomed. (There may not be a pot of gold at the finish line, but the after-party Irish Wakes, Irish stew and Irish beer will surely put a little jig into your step.)  Downtown Pensacola will transform St. Patrick’s Day into a full weekend of celebration starting with a Luck o’ the Irish-themed Gallery Night March 15. Palafox will be closed to traffic and galleries, boutiques, restaurants and bars will open their doors for the evening. The festive attire, live music and art vendors are sure to give you a taste of Pensacola’s vibrant downtown culture.  What better way to experience St. Patrick’s Day than celebrating at O’Riley’s Irish Pub on Palafox, where two big events are happening? On March 16, O’Riley’s will host the 4th Annual Downtown Pensacola Grog March and food drive. Don your green attire and bring at least two non-perishable food items. Then head back to O’Riley’s the next morning for the official St. Patrick’s Day Celebration, with corned beef and cabbage specials, live entertainment and festive drinks! Celebrate St. Patrick's Day with your four-legged friend. Bring your pup, break out the leprechaun hats, shamrock glasses and green everything and come celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with SouthBARK at The Wine Bar on Palafox on Sunday, March 17. [PHOTO CREDIT: O'Riley's Irish Pub]
Spring is in the Air Downtown
Posted: Feb 27, 2019 6:07 PMUpdated: Feb 28, 2019 9:43 PM
Spring is in the air, bringing longer days and plenty of sunshine. There's more time to play and fun things to do every day of the week in Downtown Pensacola. Here are a few downtown events and happenings that deserve to be on your springtime calendar.  Laissez les bons temps rouler! It's Mardi Gras season, so head downtown on March 1 to experience the energy and excitement of the annual Krewe of Lafitte Illuminated Parade starting at 7 p.m. The Pensacola Grand Mardi Gras Parade will roll down Palafox the very next day, Sat., March 2 at 2 p.m. Come prepared to load up on beads and Moon Pies as you enjoy the music and revelry of more than 60 decorated Mardi Gras floats.  If you’ve never sat starboard and gazed upon Pensacola Bay from a British blockade ship replica, now is your chance. After a brief visit last year, Tall Ship Lynx has returned to Downtown Pensacola, docked at Plaza De Luna until March 11. With a ticketed tour you can immerse yourself in the storied past of the Privateers who sailed these beautiful sharp-pressed Baltimore Clippers during the War of 1812. Step back in time and help the crew hoist the sails, steer the ship and enjoy the wonderful views of the Bay. Is there such a thing as too much BBQ? Join others who would laugh at such a ridiculous notion at the Smokin’ in the Square BBQ cook-off at Maritime Park March 15–17. Roam around the vendor-lined paths and follow the scent of smoky, saucy goodness prepared by professional and amateur teams. Whether you are partial to Memphis- or Carolina-style, celebrate the Pensacola way with a BBQ meal from your favorite vendor and the beautiful waterfront views of Pensacola Bay.  Batter up! Baseball season is back and the Blue Wahoos will suit up for their first home game on April 10 against their division rival, the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp. Head over to the Blue Wahoos Stadium at Maritime Park to give a warm, waterfront welcome to our favorite minor league baseball team! Playing in the streets usually isn’t the best idea, unless you’re in Downtown Pensacola March 23 for Ciclovia, when some streets will be closed to motorized traffic and opened to bikers, walkers, runners and whoever else wants to enjoy the outdoors! Ciclovia is a grassroots movement that originated in Bogota, Columbia in the 1970s. Pensacola adopted the annual tradition in 2017, welcoming participants downtown to enjoy a little physical activity and explore the area.  The first wave of Pensacola’s beloved annual festivals is scattered throughout April—providing perfect opportunities to enjoy the warmer weather. Maritime Park becomes a culinary caravan April 5-6 for the Food Truck Festival organized by Pensacola Habitat for Humanity. If you love the soothing vibe of jazz, head to Seville Square April 6-7 for the 36th Pensacola JazzFest. Live music, arts and crafts and, of course, crawfish—you'll find them all at the 35th Annual Crawfish Festival at this year's new Maritime Park location April 26-28. It's Spring, and fun things are happening throughout Downtown Pensacola. So grab your family or friends and start enjoying the artsy-foodie-fun culture of downtown![PHOTO CREDIT: Laura Bogan]