Historic Markers Across Florida



Robert Lee Mckenzie's Home and Office



Marker ID: FLHM F-315
Location: on 3rd Court at Park Street.
County: Bay
Coordinates: N 30° 9.264    W 085° 39.618
  30.1544    -85.6603
Style: Free Standing **
Waymark: None
 



Text:

The McKenzie House is a large two-story clapboard frame dwelling built in the Dutch Colonial style typical of the turn of the century houses still standing in Northern Michigan. It was built in 1909 by Belle Booth who married R.L. McKenzie in 1912; after which time the house came to be known as the McKenzie House. It stands today as it was enlarged in 1925. This house is significant because it was one of the first houses in a virtually unsettled area of Northwest Florida and because it was the home and office of Robert Lee McKenzie. McKenzie was born in Macon County, Georgia in 1870. He moved to the Florida Panhandle in 1902 where he became joint owner of a large naval stores business. After acquiring some waterfront property here he organized the Gulf Coast Development Company. The purpose of the company was to buy more land and develop it into a town site and to secure more waterfront property for a railroad terminal. In 1906 this purpose was realized when McKenzie persuaded J.B. Steele of Atlanta to choose Gulf Coast Development Company land for his new railroad which would continue south from Dothan with connections to Atlanta. Steele said "I want this to be Atlanta´s outlet to the Panama Canal;" which suggested the new city´s name. In February 1909 Robert Lee McKenzie was elected Mayor of Panama City. He also served two consecutive terms as State Representative from Washington county in the Florida Legislature (1909-11, 1911-13). McKenzie was a leader in the formation of Bay County. He was instrumental in getting a highway constructed to Pensacola. His work and dedication resulted in Panama City being the location of the International Paper Company. The "Drummond Cut," completed in 1938 opened the intercoastal waterway to the west and McKenzie was a leader in this project. During the war years McKenzie was Chairman of the Bay County chapter of the Red Cross (1941-44) and a member of the Selective Services Board (1940-47). On December 4, 1964, the park across the street was renamed McKenzie Park in honor of his devoted service to the community. R.L. McKenzie´s place in the development of Panama City is secure. Most of the important events of the town´s development for a period of over 50 years (1902-1956) are linked with his name and efforts. For 45 years (1912-1956) the office/library of the McKenzie House was the center of his activities and as such, gives real historic importance to the house and its place in Panama City history.

Sponsored by the descendants of Robert Lee McKenzie in cooperation with the Department of State


Notes:

City: Panama City, FL