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Tiny housing is not just a popular current trend. Tiny houses, known colloquially as shotgun houses, of Apalachicola and the Gulf Coast area of Florida helped shape the area in a time when commerce and the port lifestyle was flourishing. These utilitarian homes were created to be practical and cheap, and have now become a symbol of our little corner of Florida.

Preserving and Embracing Apalachicola’s Rich Legacy

Shotgun homes sprang up in the early 1900’s as homes for mill workers along the Gulf Coast. The homes were built to be simple and straightforward. Each home had three rooms: the living room, kitchen and bedroom. The floor plan was not fancy, with one flowing into the other. The term shotgun home was coined because if you left the front door and the back door open, a shotgun blast could go through the home and not hit a single wall. More simply, a shotgun home was designed with oversized windows and when everything was open a nice cooling breeze would flow right through the home.

In the mid to late part of the 20th century, shotgun homes fell out of favor. These homes were too simple, too boring and were not thought of as adding to the aesthetic of the neighborhood. Many homes of this style were demolished. Homes were abandoned and the lush Florida fauna took over. Today there is a revitalization of these kinds of homes and the shotgun homes along the coast of Florida are being preserved and celebrated for their simple luxury and artistic efficiency.

PEARL’s Shotgun Houses

Not only a part of Florida history, but a part of Americana, the shotgun homes are a part of the Pearl’s latest exhibition. This local non-profit is made up of dedicated individuals working to preserve the rich history of the area, the people who settled here, and the way of life that made our little neck of the woods what it has come to be today.

When you are staying in the area at one of the fantastic St. George Island Resort Vacation spots, take a day to tour the area and see some of the restored historic homes. Once covered by brush and perhaps fallen into a bit of decay, the shotgun homes of Florida are being restored and being lived in and loved by families that may not otherwise have a place to live. Walking tours, photo exhibits, and interactive maps will help you navigate through the once booming mill town that helped our area flourish.

John Gorrie St. George Island

Good ole’ John Gorrie making Floridians cooler since 1844!

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.