Historic Markers Across Florida

Dr. Beal's Shell Museum

Marker ID: FLHM F-616
Location: on U.S. 98, Navarre, FL
County: Santa Rosa
Coordinates: N 30° 24.646    W 086° 46.568
  30.41076666    -86.77613333
Style: Free Standing **
Waymark: None


Dr. James Hartley Beal (1861-1945) was an influential pharmacist, chemist, lawyer, educator, and scientist. Despite his busy life, he began collecting land and marine shells, purchasing his first specimen, in 1888. The Fort Walton Beach resident bought this house in early 1928. The building was used by Dr. Beal as his office and housed his extensive shell collection. By 1940, his collection had grown to be one of the largest shell collections in the world. The nearly two million 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. Beal's Shell Museum was purchased and moved by barge to its present location.

2007 by Hubert Alan Laird and the Florida Department of State.