Apalachicola's French Connection

The French, from the early days in Apalachicola, had a significant interest in this port city because of the level of activity in commodities being exported to France by French citizens. The French government maintained a Consulate here until well into the Twentieth Century and the French Consulate was most recently located in the Grady Building on Water Street.

Bastille Day 1850

Before 1850 Apalachicola was accustomed to receiving any ice by sailing vessels from the northeast. By summer, it was very unusual to have ice in Apalachicola and by July 1850, this cooling element from this source could not be found.

One of the fastidious guests at the Mansion House, the leading hotel in Apalachicola and the largest in Florida before the ware, expressed a wish for ice in his wine at dinner. Monsieur Rosan, French Consul stationed at Apalachicola and a resident cotton buyer, wagered a basket of champagne that the following day at the Bastille Day celebration, the guest would be provided with ice and it would be made in Apalachicola. Imagine the amazement and delight of the company the next noon when the Parisian won his wager. The Gorrie ice machine, the first in the world, was thus introduced to the public.

It was said that the Frenchman returned to Paris and associated himself with Curre', The French scientist who profited from the knowledge of the American investor.


The French Consulate

The French Consulate was located on the second floor of the Grady Building in the early 1900's. Judge John G. Hodges, nephew of the Gradys, remembers going upstairs as a young boy and pretending to speak French. The Consulate flew a French flag on the front of the building. Judge Hodges remembers that there was some controversy about the position of the flag relative to the American flag.

The Captain of the Port, John Fenimore Cooper Griggs also had his office on the second floor of the Grady Building in the early 1900's. The U.S. Custom House was also located in the Grady Building at that time.

Visit BayNavigator.com for more information about the Apalachicola and St. George Island Florida area. Chamber of Commerce website also has information about the area.