Port St. Joe, Florida
Port St. Joe, Florida
Port St. Joe on the shores of pristine St. Joseph Bay in Gulf County, Florida, has reinvented itself several times. Fewer than 4,000 people live here permanently and enjoy its charming Old Florida small town ambience. Port St. Joe, in the heart of the Forgotten Coast, offers a relaxed coastal lifestyle and is today a favorite boating and fishing destination.
About The Community
The city has a rich history and is known as the “Constitution City” because the signing of Florida’s first Constitution took place here in 1838. St. Joseph, as it was called then, was a thriving port, but unfortunately was abandoned after a yellow fever epidemic and a devastating hurricane in 1840. The signing of Florida’s Constitution has been recreated in the Constitution Convention State Museum. The museum also houses a large collection of native artifacts.
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The city was reborn as Port St. Joe, in the early twentieth century as a vacation destination with the advent of the railroad. Drawn by the sugar-white beaches and emerald-green water, visitors stayed at the Port Inn with its wide porches and spectacular views of St. Joe Bay. The area was famous as a sport fishing paradise.
The Great Depression ended all that, but with the construction of the St. Joe Paper Mill in the 1930s, Port St. Joe began its industrial era.
The mill closed in the late 1990s but Port St. Joe entered the twenty-first century as one of Florida’s most promising new eco-centered vacation destinations. Visitors have discovered the unique qualities of Florida’s Forgotten Coast and enjoy many outdoor activities such as surf fishing, scalloping, scuba diving, bird or turtle watching, kayaking, canoeing, surfing, sailing, sport fishing, shelling and even horseback riding on the beach. Port St Joe Marina that opened in 1999 is the Gulf’s newest recreation amenity and offers numerous charters for adventures at sea.
Vicinity of Port St. Joe
The downtown business district has undergone a facelift, with elegant street furniture and renovated storefronts, while still preserving the beauty and charm of this small historic seaport community. Extensive landscaping includes trees and low plantings in numerous areas.
Shipyard Cove was a repair yard for sailing vessels in the nineteenth century. Fred Maddox purchased the property, but in 1996, Florida Communities Trust purchased it from the Maddox family and donated the land to the City of Port St. Joe to be used as a park. The restored “Maddox House” is the home of the Gulf County Chamber of Commerce The Park includes walking trails, picnic tables, a bayside beach and is located along the shore of St. Joe Bay between the new St. Joe Marina and Frank Pate Park.
Frank Pate Park, which stands on the location of the old Port Inn, was completed in 1995. It boasts of a lighted, tennis court, picnic tables, great playground for kids, a large boat launching ramp and a fishing pier. The park’s main attraction is the spectacular sunsets over St. Joseph Peninsula, just across the bay. What a great place to end a beautiful Florida day.