Historic Markers Across Florida

Dr. Beal's Shell Museum (Beal House)

Marker ID: FLHM F-61
Location: West of Club 51 at 2810 U.S. 98, Mary Esther, FL
County: Okaloosa
Coordinates: N 30° 24.646    W 086° 46.568
  30.41076666    -86.77613333
Style: Free Standing **
Waymark: WMGTPF


Dr. James Hartley Beal (1861-1945) was an influential pharmacist, chemist, lawyer, educator, and scientist. Despite his busy life, he began collecting shells, finding his first specimen, a micrarock in 1888. The Fort Walton Beach resident bought this house in the early 1900s. An artesian water well and supply system on the property became the start of the towns first water system. The home was used by Dr. Beal as his office and housed his extensive shell collection. By 1940, his collection had grown to be the second largest shell collection in the world. The shells were donated to Rollins College, where they remained on display until 1988. They were then transferred to the Florida Museum of Natural History at the University of Florida, Gainesville. The house was extensively remodeled and converted into the Summerhouse Restaurant, which operated there from the 1980s until 2004. It was originally located at 2 Miracle Strip Parkway in Fort Walton Beach. The building was slated for demolition in the fall of 2004. In order to save the building, Dr. Beals former Shell Museum was purchased and moved by barge to its present location.

Sponsors: Hubert Alan Laird and the Florida Department of State


City: Fort Walton Beach, FL