Historic Markers Across Florida

John Christo, Senior

Marker ID: FLHM F-657
Location: 940 W. Beach Drive, Panama City, FL
County: Bay
Coordinates: N 30° 9.68    W 085° 40.503
  30.16133333    -85.67505
Style: Free Standing **
Waymark: None


(side 1)
Built in 1927 by A.A. Payne, a banker, and bought by John Christo, Sr., the house is significant in architecture, a mixture of styles typical of the late 19th and early 20th centuries which includes Neo-Colonial Revival and Italianate Villa influences and the accomplishments of John Christo, Sr., 1885-1973. He was born to a Greek family on a farm near the village of Kirte, Turkey. As war between Turkey and Bulgaria drew near, he left Turkey and came to America in 1912 at the age of 27. He had $50, which he borrowed from a relative in Turkey. His ship sailed to New York where he knew no one and was advised to travel by steamer to Jacksonville, Florida and from there to Tarpon Springs where he could communicate in Greek and get a job. He overcame the language barrier by obtaining a Greek-to-English dictionary. He got a job at a restaurant peeling onions, then was advised to go to Quincy, Florida where he was able to work, save and borrow enough to realize his dream to own and operate a five and dime store.

(side 2)
Christo became so successful that he eventually owned 42 stores named Christo's 5 Cents, 10 Cents and $1.00 Stores in Florida, Alabama and Georgia. He founded four successful corporations: Christo's, Inc., Christo's Stores, inc. F&T Investments, Inc. and Christo Realty Company, Inc. The main office and warehouse for the five and dime stores was located at 437 Grace Ave., Panama City. The warehouse was the main merchandise supplier for the stores. He was successful in department store retailing, commercial real-estate investments, commercial building, organizing corporations, architectural design and draftsmanship, land surveying and helping others with their financial endeavors. He opened and operated 36 of the five and dime stores while residing at 940 West Beach Drive. He built three homes. The first was built in 1926 at 100 Allen Ave. He donated property to the State of Florida in 1951, doubling the size of Florida Wayside Park, Panama City Beach. The house is the birthplace of Jimmy and George Christo, twins, born on July 31, 1936 during an unnamed hurricane. The A.A. Payne–John Christo, Senior House is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

2009 by The Christo Family and the Florida Department of State.