History of Apalachicola, Florida
RICH COASTAL HISTORY OF APALACHICOLA
Apalachicola History with a French Flair
Beginning in the early 1800s, France and other European nations maintained a significant interest in Apalachicola because of its location as a shipping port. As a result of this interest, the French government operated a consulate in Apalachicola into the early twentieth century. The French Consulate’s location in the early 1900s was on the second floor of the Grady building.
Once bustling with steamboats and sailpowerered cargo lighters, the Apalachicola waterfront was a major shipping hub – exporting commodities to France and elsewhere by a sizeable French population at the time.
J.E. Grady & Co., a ships chandlery established in 1884, specialized in supplying cargo ships and steamboats which tied up at the Water Street docks in front of the store. Shipping was a major business in Apalachicola during the 1800s. At least 130 steamboats were on the Apalachicola River between 1831 and 1928.
A Tale of Ice…
Prior to 1850, the only ice available in Apalachicola arrives via sailing vessels from the northeast – hardly a reliable source and downright a rarity in the summer. However, Monsieur Rosan, a cotton merchant and French Consul stationed at Apalachicola in 1850 wagered a basket of champagne to fellow merchants that Bastille Day – July 14 – would be celebrated in Apalachicola with a feast featuring ice-chilled wine. And it was! Unbeknownst to many at the time, Apalachicola resident, Dr. John Gorrie (father of modern refrigeration) had just completed work on his most famous invention – the ice machine. Also, unbeknownst to most, Dr. Gorrie reportedly knew of the wager and was in cahoots with the wily Consul!
The Historic Grady Building History
Rebuilding Apalachicola’s History Brick by Brick.
The original J.E. Grady & Co. was established in 1884 and operated as a ship’s chandlery, disbursing agent and merchant serving the shipping trade on the Apalachicola waterfront. The Grady building was built after a 1900 fire destroyed the original building.
A three-year renovation of the Grady building began in October 1995 when this vintage structure was just an empty storefront slowly deteriorating into again bricks and broken windows.
The Grady Market is now located on the ground floor of the historic turn of the century Grady building. Beautiful brick walls, heart pine floors, tin ceiling, original counters and antique showcases return the market to its 1900 appearance. As much a historical tour as an exceptional shopping experience, the store features a collection of antiques, art, unique foods, clothes and gifts. Wander through this meticulously refurbished ships’ chandlery and be surrounded by Apalachicola’s history and charm.
The upper floor of the Grady building once housed the French Consulate, Captain of the Port and the U.S. Customs office. It now features the Consulate’s four world-class luxurious vacation suites available for rent on a daily or weekly basis.