Down St. George Island Florida way, winter weather sets in a little later. We’ve spent many a Thanksgiving meal in short sleeves with the AC blasting to combat the effects of the big turkey roasting in the oven along with everyone’s favorite Apalachicola oyster stuffing. In neighboring Apalachicola, folks know all about John Gorrie—even dedicating a square of town, a state park, and a museum to his memory.
Dr. John Gorrie is regarded as a pioneer in the realms of ice making and refrigeration. Those of us who spend our Thanksgivings beachside know all too well that without air conditioning and ice, this time of year would be a lot less about making family memories and a lot more about trying to stay cool on the coast.
These Florida folks need to cool down!
Gorrie relocated down to Apalachicola in 1833, bringing with him a host of knowledge and experience regarding everything from medicine to finances. As a young physician, Gorrie realized that the yellow fever epidemic plaguing the region seemed to be exacerbated by the patients being unable to drop their body temperatures. He began tirelessly searching for a way to cool the rooms these patients were in. He even eventually gave up his medical practice to dedicate all his time pursuing a solution.
In 1844, Gorrie came up with the plans for the first ever air conditioner. It was a device run on ice that then pumped out cooled air. In 1851, he received a patent for mechanical refrigeration, which laid the foundation for what would become modern refrigeration and air conditioning. While Gorrie was unable to witness the fruits of his labor due to a lack of widespread interest and investment at the time, we now recognize his contribution to the development of refrigeration as an integral part in creating the comforts of air conditioning that we now enjoy today.
Local boy done good.
Apalachicola honors John Gorrie and his dedication to bettering the lives of his patients with the John Gorrie Museum State Park, located at 46 6th Street. A replica of Gorrie’s ice machine can be found within the museum. A statue bearing his likeness is on-site and visitors can pay their respects in person, as Dr. Gorrie’s gravesite buried just across the street from the museum building.
For more information about the John Gorrie Museum State Park or to plan a trip to honor the man responsible for the comforts of air conditioning we have today, visit the John Gorrie Museum State Park website here.
Resort Vacation Properties of St. George Island Florida makes it their mission to champion their community by sharing the old fishermen tales, the area’s mysterious history, the hidden beauty spots along the Forgotten Coast, and highlighting the wonders of this incredible beach island enclave. St. George Island is a short 80 miles east of Panama City, along the sparkling Gulf Coast of Florida. We hope you’ll check out our rental properties should your travels ever bring you our way.