click on picture for link to Pensacola Historic Village Tour
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A complex of museums, a Colonial Archaeological Trail, and furnished houses, and buildings such as the Dorr House, Lavalle House, Wentworth Museum, and the Old Christ Church including information for businesses and real estate investments.
Explorers first put the Pensacola area on the map 450 years ago, starting a long, rich, diverse heritage. Today, you can enjoy that multicultural legacy at many historical attractions.
Pensacola got its name from the Panzacola Indians who greeted the first Spanish explorers in 1559, when Don Tristan de Luna led 1,400 colonists to what is now Pensacola Beach. But a major hurricane sank ships, drowned livestock, and prompted them to flee. Although the Panzacola Indians are now extinct, Creek Indians live in the area and celebrate their traditions.
More conquistadores arrived in 1698. Spanish soldiers, aided by slaves, built a fort at what is now the Naval Air Station on Pensacola Bay. That settlement was unearthed in 1998 and opened to the public. A bastion and educational kiosk help you imagine life over 300 years ago.
Over the years Pensacola changed hands often – among Spain, France, England, the United States and the Confederacy. During the Civil War, Union troops held Fort Pickens and Rebels held Fort McRee.
All those bricks! More than 21 million. Most of them were made right across the bay in Pensacola and barged to the site where the Fort stands today.
The Fort was completed in 1834 and used until WWII, when modern weapons made traditional coastal defense obsolete. Fort Pickens has changed over the years, so take the self-guided tour and peel back the layers of history. It’ll lead you to cannon emplacements, powder magazines, and show you where Bastion D isn’t: the corner of the fort that was destroyed when a warehouse fire reached a magazine holding four tons of black powder. The 1899 explosion showered debris over 1-1/2 miles, reaching Fort Barrancas at the naval air station on the mainland.
The Navy shipyard, established in 1825, evolved into an air station, propelling Pensacola into the forefront of naval aviation. This affiliation produced many distinguished military soldiers, sailors and aviators, including the first African-American to become a four-star general in the Air Force, Chappie James of Pensacola, who flew 100 combat missions in Korea and Vietnam.
Tne glimpse of the past is offered at St. Michael’s Cemetery, where slaves and nobility alike are buried.
Pensacola’s past comes alive in the Historic Pensacola Village and the Pensacola Historical Museum, located in the Pensacola Historic District. The historic district is one of the oldest and most intact in all of Florida, its architecture reflecting modest structures perfectly suited to the climate. Within this small neighborhood is Old Christ Church, Florida’s oldest church (1832), and St. Michael’s Cemetery, deeded to Pensacola by the King of Spain in 1822.
JACKSON’S RESTAURANT in Pensacola, Florida.
PLAZA DE FERDINAND
The cession of Florida to the United States from Spain occurred at the Plaza on July 17, 1821. General Andrew Jackson made a public speech to townspeople, informing them that the land was now the Florida Territory, and that Pensacola would be its capital. General Jackson was later sworn in as first Territorial Governor in the plaza. A bust of Jackson now stands at the spot where he was inaugurated.
The Plaza was listed for consideration as a National Historic Landmark in 1960, achieving that status in 1966. Archaeologists, in 2002, discovered evidence of British structures previously not known to have existed in that area.
A bust of Andrew Jackson at the Plaza Ferdinand VII, where Jackson was sworn in as Governor
This was the site of the completion of the formal transfer of Florida from Spain to the U.S. on July 17, 1821. Andrew Jackson, as newly appointed Governor, officially proclaimed the establishment of the Florida Territory. Pensacola was established as its temporary capital
In 2002 the Division of Historical Resources gave a grant to complete a second season of archeological investigations within the Plaza. Evidence of British colonial structures was discovered.