ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Orman House Historic State Park, Florida
ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Orman House Historic State Park, Florida
Orman House Historic State Park
A beautiful Greek Revival home, the historic Orman
House stands atop a bluff overlooking the river and
bay in Apalachicola, Florida.
Orman House
The house was built in 1838
for the family of Thomas
Orman, a merchant and civic
leader in early Apalachicola.
Greek Revival on the Coast
Possibly the oldest structure
of its type on the Florida
coast, the Orman House is a
unique Southern landmark.
A Walkway of Cotton
Instead of shrubbery, the
walkway leading to the house
is lined by cotton plants.
Orman House Historic State Park - Apalachicola, Florida
Architecture of North and South
Chapman Botanical Garden
The grounds of the Orman
House adjoin the beautiful
Chapman Botanical Garden,
which honors the research of
Dr. Alvin Wentworth Chapman.
Copyright 2010 by Dale Cox
All rights reserved.
A stunning landmark, the Orman House in
Apalachicola is now the centerpiece of a
Florida historic state park.

Built in 1838 for the Thomas Orman family,
the house sits atop a bluff overlooking the
docks of Apalachicola. It was a place from
which the original owner, Thomas Orman,
could look out over the shipping industry that
made his fortune.

Orman was originally one of the promoters of
the lost town of Webbville, a community that
once vied with Marianna for the title of county
seat of Jackson County, Florida. When the
latter city won that fight, Webbville collapsed
and Orman brought his family the short
distance south to the Gulf in search of better
opportunities. He found them in Apalachicola.

Cotton planting was growing into a booming
industry along the Apalachicola River and its
tributaries, the Chattahoochee and Flint, in
the 1830s and the port of Apalachicola was
the major beneficiary. Riverboats stacked
high with bales of cotton came down from the
upriver landings. The bales were transferred
to ocean-going vessels at Apalachicola for
transport to the cotton mills of New England
and Europe.

Thomas Orman dealt in cotton, buying large
shipments as they came down river and then
selling it and shipping it to the mills. In the
process he accumulated a fortune.

In fact, by the late 1830s Apalachicola had
become the third busiest port on the entire
Gulf Coast. In 1838 Orman authorized the
construction of a home befitting his status as
one of the key business leaders of the
booming city on the Gulf.

The magnificent Greek Revival home was
built with elements of the Federal style then
still popular. While the lumber for the walls,
floors, ceilings and framework of the house
was cut and cured in Florida, the windows
and doors - along with the other finish wood-
work - were manufactured in New York and
shipped down aboard sailing ships.

When finished, the Orman House was a
showplace. It became the scene of parties
and grand balls.

Apalachicola was a prosperous city with
consulates from many European nations and
boasted a social life second to none. The
house was a focal point of activity in the city
and visitors over the years included Robert E.
Dr. John Gorrie (who invented a
refrigeration and ice machine) and
Dr. Alvin
Wentworth Chapman (noted botanist), as
well as numerous political and business
leaders of Florida, the United States and key
European nations.
William Orman, who was eight years old
when the house was completed, was among
the first Floridians to volunteer in the service
of the Confederacy. A Yale educated lawyer,
he was commissioned as first lieutenant in
Company B, 1st Florida Infantry, and served
Pensacola under Gen. Braxton Bragg. He
commanded the army gunboat

When the term of service of the original 1st
Florida ended in 1862, he reenlisted in
Company K of the 1st Florida Reorganized
Infantry and fought at
Shiloh, Stones River,
Chickamauga, Chattanooga and through the
Atlanta and Nashville Campaigns. He was
among the soldiers of Gen. Joseph E.
Johnston who surrendered in North Carolina
at the end of the war. He later served two
terms in the U.S. Congress.

Local legend holds that some of the Ormans
were less than willing to leave the beautiful
house on the bluff. Witnesses have claimed
to hear footsteps and other strange sounds
in the house at night, making it one of the
best-known haunted houses in Apalachicola.

To reach the hosue from the main traffic light
on U.S. 98 in Apalachicola, take Market
Avenue north until you see the park on your
left. Hours are 9-12 and 1-5, Monday - Friday.
Tours are given on the hour and admission
is $2 (children under 5 are admitted free).

Please click here to visit the official state park
website for more information.
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