The "Scandalous" History of Tivoli High House
Posted: Apr 30, 2019 6:55 PMUpdated: May 7, 2019 9:17 PM
The Tivoli High House at 205 Zaragoza Street in Downtown Pensacola was once a lively entertainment hotspot—the place to "see and be seen" in Pensacola in the 1800's. Though it was demolished in 1937, a reproduction of the original building, constructed in 1976 on the same site, today serves as a museum store, ticket center and focal point of Historic Pensacola that provides a fascinating glimpse of local history for visitors.At the time the Tivoli was constructed, Pensacola's population was on the rise. In 1803 an influx of European military troops had arrived, reassigned from New Orleans to Pensacola after the United States purchased Louisiana from France. Hundreds of Spanish Infantrymen migrated here, along with a Frenchman by the name of Jean Baptiste Cazenave. The population boom created a demand for a social center for gatherings and entertainment, and in 1804 Cazenave and two compatriots drew up plans for a multi-building entertainment complex. The Tivoli High House would include the Tivoli Dance Hall, an octagonal rotunda with a 20-foot radius to the east of the main building, a kitchen and other outbuildings. Completed in 1805, the Tivoli provided lively entertainment for the diverse citizens of Pensacola including future First Lady Rachel Jackson, who described the Tivoli as “mixed with all nations under the canopy of heaven.” The buildings were used for eating, drinking, theater and gaming, and an 1810 description mentions "a small neat rotunda for public balls." In the 1840s the Tivoli property was purchased by Don Francisco Moreno, who demolished the ballroom to construct a private residence and converted the High House into the Hotel de Paree. The main building was confiscated by Union soldiers during the Civil War, during which time it was known as the "Spanish Barracks." [PHOTO CREDIT: PENSACOLA HISTORICAL SOCIETY/TIVOLI HIGH HOUSE, 1874]
Unearthed Civil War Artifacts at New Downtown Exhibit
Posted: Apr 9, 2019 8:14 PMUpdated: May 2, 2019 1:15 PM
Climbing the historic stairs of the pentagonal Fort Pickens on the Gulf Islands National Seashore, the aged brick battlements give way to a breathtaking panorama of sandy white beaches and the sparkling turquoise of the Gulf of Mexico. It's a peaceful scene that belies the military fort's history of bombardment, fortification and battles dating back to its completion in 1834. Nearly 158 years ago, the fort's inhabitants were caught in the crossfire of the Battle of Santa Rosa Island during the Civil War. On Oct. 9, 1861, gun smoke mixed with early morning fog as more than a thousand Confederate troops attacked the Union's Camp Brown. The site was left in ruins as Union troops retreated into the fortified walls of Fort Pickens. But, unbeknownst to the Confederates, hundreds of Union troops were waiting behind the walls of the fort to fend off the attackers with artillery and gunfire to maintain control of the area. The ransacked remains of Camp Brown were nearly forgotten amidst the turbulent years of the Civil War, but the natural barrier created by the Gulf Islands National Seashore preserved them until 2016 when a team of University of West Florida archeologists uncovered the site and its treasure of artifacts. The scabbard tip of a Bowie knife, fragments of clothing, military uniform buttons and other articles help tell the story of the Civil War era in Pensacola. The artifacts are currently on display in Downtown Pensacola until June at the University of West Florida’s Destination Archaeology Resource Center at 207 E. Main Street in Downtown Pensacola. Titled “Smoke on the Water - The Archaeology of Camp Brown,” the eclectic collection is free and open to the public Mon-Sat from 10am-4pm. [PHOTO: NPS.Gov/Fort Pickens today]
Uncovering History Downtown: Old Christ Church
Posted: Mar 21, 2019 10:24 PMUpdated: Apr 30, 2019 10:58 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: http://www.armada.mde.es]
Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day on the Emerald Coast
Posted: Feb 27, 2019 6:25 PMUpdated: Apr 30, 2019 10:56 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.