Historic Markers Across Florida

Historic Gorrie Square

Marker ID:  
Location: 6th St. at Ave. D, Apalachicola, FLWildlife Refuge Hdq, Apalachicola, FL
County: Franklin
Coordinates: N 29° 43.500    W 084° 59.122
  29.725    -84.98536666
Style: Interpretative Sign **
Waymark: WMXFYT


Historic Gorrie Square

Gorrie Square is one of the original six city squares in Apalachicola. The original name for the square was City Square as identified on the 1834 Apalachicola Land Company Map. The square name was changed in the early 1900s- to honor Dr. John Gorrie, the Apalachicola physician (1803-1855) who was an early pioneer in the invention of the artificial manufacture of ice, refrigeration, and air conditioning. Dr. Gorrie was granted the first U.S. Patent for mechanical refrigeration in 1851.

In 1906 a steel water tower for Apalachicola's first water system was erected at the center of the square. The tower served the water needs of the City for 79 years until it collapsed during a hurricane in 1985.

Trinity Episcopal Church is one of several notable landmarks on Gorrie Square. In 1838, the white pine church building was cut to measure and assembled in sections in White Plains, New York and then traveled by schooner to Apalachicola where it was reassembled and completed in 1840. During the Civil War, the church served as a sanctuary to the citizens who remained in the city - the elderly, the wives and children of Confederate soldiers.

In 1899, Dr. Gorrie was honored for his invention of the ice machine with a monument to his achievement. The monument is located in the northern corner of the square.

In 1956 ground was broken on the southern corner of the square for a museum to Dr. Gorrie. The museum was completed and dedicated in 1957. It is presumed that is also when Dr. Gorrie's remains were transferred from Magnolia Cemetery to Gorrie Square. His grave can be found in the eastern quadrant of the square - directly across 6th Street from the museum.

Today, the John Gorrie Museum State Park Museum, located at 46 6th Street, contains a replica of Dr. Gorrie's ice machine and exhibits about the community.

Early Development Patterns Focused on Neighborhoods,
Apalachicola's layout was organized in the 1830s by the Apalachicola Land Company. The original plan, patterned after the City of Philadelphia, featured a one-mile square grid with a large central square and smaller squares surrounding it. Each of the town's squares were originally designed to serve as neighborhood communal areas - open and available for public use.

Apalachicola's Squares are Key to the City's Historic District
All six of Apalachicola's historic squares (City, Chapman, Gorrie, Franklin, Madison and Washington) fall within the Apalachicola Historic District which contains a remarkable number of structures built during the town's most prosperous times in the nineteenth and early twentieth century. The major portion of the Historic District is residential with single-family dwellings predominating.

Generally, the residential area is oriented north-south along Fifth and Sixth Streets and has the highest concentration of pre-1860 buildings. The area west of Sixth Street along Bay Avenue and Avenues B, C, D and E, developed around the turn of the century. Several churches and public and parochial school buildings can be found here. Much of the commercial area along Market and Commerce Streets dates from the early decades of the twentieth century. The riverfront once featured dozens of three story brick warehouses, used as storage warehouses during the early 1800s to support the bustling river commerce trade.

Squares were Part of the Original Plan
Apalachicolas's Historic squares are identified as Washington Square, Gorrie Square, Chapman Square, Franklin Square, Madison Square and City Square. Four of the squares are arrayed in a square around the center. The central square - Washington Square - is the largest, covering a four block area. City Square is Apalachicola's sixth square, and it is uniquely set off from the organized plan of the other five.

Historically, buildings were oriented toward these squares on all sides, but over time, this feature of the city's design was lost. Currently, only Trinity Episcopal Church at Gorrie Square upholds this part of the city's original plan.

Although development patterns have altered the original design and use of the City's squares, much of the integrity of these squares remain. It has been the expressed intent of City leaders, historic planners and preservation enthusiasts to preserve the squares as much as is possible.

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