Historic REX Theatre Enjoys Its Next Curtain Call
Posted: Feb 19, 2018 6:01 PMUpdated: Feb 19, 2018 6:28 PM
In 2014 crews began a $2 million renovation of the historic REX Theatre at 18 N. Palafox Street in downtown Pensacola. The theatre, believed to be Florida's earliest Art Deco-style theatre, had lain gutted, vacant and empty for nearly 30 years. Now it's a vibrant 400-seat theatre that serves as a home to Generation Church and a venue for community theatre, seminars and other events. The REX, a few doors north of Garden Street, got its start in 1910 as Rhodes Futch Collins Furniture Store, offering the largest showroom in the Pensacola area. After the furniture store changed locations, the structure was converted into a movie theater in the 1930s, operating for several decades before closing in 1977. The REX then went through a succession of owners before Generation acquired it in 2012.Renovating the historic building created work for an estimated 175 construction workers, along with fabricators, suppliers and other vendors. But the project meant a lot more than just work, said Bill Greenhut, president of Greenhut Construction, the lead construction company. “This is the type of project that you can look at in years to come and feel a sense of pride that you played a part,” said Greenhut in a letter to the architects. “...projects such as this are extremely rewarding because they have a large impact on the quality of life in our community. The users and patrons of the facility have a tangible and emotional interest in its future, and that personal investment makes the successful outcome even more satisfying.”The REX is particularly known for its Art Deco façade and memorable connections to Pensacola residents and visitors who attended movies there for decades. Now the outside reflects its heritage, while the inside has been modernized to ensure it's ADA compliant and energy-efficient. PHOTO: Rhodes Futch Collins Furniture Store. 192-. [State Archives of Florida]
Laissez les bons temps rouler, downtown!
Posted: Jan 18, 2018 10:37 PMUpdated: Feb 19, 2018 6:30 PM
Downtown Pensacola's annual Mardi Gras celebration is among the oldest in the United States, and Pensacola is perhaps the first Florida city to observe Mardi Gras, holding its first celebration in 1874. That year a group of leading local socialites formed a Mardi Gras “krewe” called the Knights of Priscus Association to organize the festivities. The name Priscus came from Tarquinius Priscus, the fifth king of Rome who was the first Roman king to wear a purple robe and a golden crown on his head, and who established the circus, a place where games could be held. Pensacola's early Mardi Gras fizzled after a few years but was revived with gusto in 1900. Priscus remained the title of the festival's ceremonial king, and Alexander Clement Blount II was named the first King Priscus of the new group. Today Mardi Gras is Pensacola's biggest celebration, replete with krewes, parades, balls and a Grand Mardi Gras Parade that brings 10,000 revelers to the heart of downtown Pensacola each February. [PHOTO: Visit Pensacola]
Best Free Thing to Do: Palafox Market
Posted: Jan 16, 2018 11:51 PMUpdated: Jan 19, 2018 7:36 PM
Each Saturday, Palafox Market brings a new bounty of fresh produce, delicious treats, flowers, plants, antiques and hand-crafted goods to downtown Pensacola. The fresh-air market, which began as a small, seasonal farmers' market, now fills block after block along Palafox Street. Scattered among the produce tents you'll find talented local artisans and an eclectic mix of works, from fine art, jewelry and pottery to scented candles, soaps and other hand-made natural products. All items at Palafox Market originate directly from the onsite vendors who grow, make, or create the fruits, vegetables, herbs, and art for sale.Now in its 10th year, Palafox Market was voted “Best Outdoor Market/Farmers Market,” “Best Place to Buy Local Produce” and “Best Free Thing to Do" by Pensacola voters. You can find it at Martin Luther King, Jr. Plaza along Palafox Street between Wright and Garden streets every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., rain or shine. 
The Storied Past of Basilica of St. Michael the Archangel
Posted: Jan 16, 2018 11:14 PMUpdated: Feb 19, 2018 6:31 PM
Did you know that the Basilica of St. Michael has been in Pensacola since 1781 and that its origins can be traced back to General Bernardo de Galvez? More than 230 years ago, Galvez led his Spanish troops in a 61-day siege to recapture Pensacola from the British. Also among his ranks was a Capuchin missionary and chaplain to the troops named Father Cyril de Barcelona. On May 8, when the Spanish declared victory in the Battle of Pensacola, Father Cyril blessed an old, two-story warehouse on the waterfront for a church, permanently establishing the parish of St. Michael the Archangel in Downtown Pensacola. After the first church, located on Zaragossa Street, collapsed in 1831, three more churches would be destroyed by a hurricane, fire, and even the Civil War before the church found its current home on Palafox and Chase Streets in 1886. Would you believe that some parishioners balked at the suggestion of this location because it was "so far from town"? If you'd like to experience a piece of this parish's storied history, you can attend mass at the beautiful, Gothic Revival style church any day but Saturday. Check out their website for more information.[PHOTO: Stuart Schaefer Photography] 
Little-Known Downtown Places: Fort George
Posted: Jan 5, 2018 7:49 PMUpdated: Jan 18, 2018 10:52 PM
A small park at the intersection of Palafox and LaRua Streets is the site of an often overlooked, but historically significant landmark. Fort George was built atop Gage Hill by the British when they occupied Pensacola between 1763-81. The site can easily be seen today by looking up Palafox Street from downtown. Fort George was the largest of a trio of fortifications on the hill, along with the Queen's Redoubt and the Prince of Wales Redoubt. In 1781, a Spanish and French fleet led by General Bernardo de Galvez arrived off the mouth of Pensacola Bay, and Fort George was surrendered to Spanish forces in the Siege of Pensacola and renamed Fort San Miguel (Fort St. Michael). The fort was a major target during the Battle of Pensacola in 1814, one of the least known yet most significant battles of the American Revolution.Remnants of both the British and Spanish forts were found by archaeologists during excavations in the 1970's, and a portion of Fort George was reconstructed as a park.  Today, Fort George Park, at the intersection of Palafox and La Rua, includes displays and interpretive panels on the history of the fort, a marker detailing the Battle of Pensacola, and the reconstructed section of ramparts featuring two 18th century British cannon. The rest of the site is located beneath houses and other structures.