St. Michael’s Basilica (Historic Marker)
First Methodist Church at 1 N Palafox before San Carlos (Historic Marker)
San Carlos (Historic Marker)
San Carlos Mural
Rex and ISIS theatres
St. Michael Catholic Parish traces its foundation to Don Tristán DeLuna’s landing on August 14, 1559. Accompanied by five priests of the Dominican Order and one lay brother, the first Catholic Mass in what is the United States was celebrated at the landing site of August 15, 1559, the feast of the Assumption of Mary. After a lapse of years, the Catholic Church’s presence was officially established on May 10, 1781 by Fr. Cyril de Barcelona, the chaplain to the Galvez armada. From the first church in an old warehouse on Pensacola’s waterfront, St. Michael has been a continuous Catholic presence. Three additional St. Michael churches were built along today’s Jefferson Street over the next 100 years. The last of those churches was destroyed by fire in September 1882. This current site had been purchased in May 1882, and church construction completed in March 1886 and dedicated on June 6, 1886. Pope Benedict XVI elevated St. Michael Church to the status of a Minor Basilica on December 28, 2011 thus honoring the architectural and historic significance of both church and parish in the history of northwest Florida. The Basilica of St. Michael stands as a witness to the honor and glory of God in the Heart of Pensacola.
Pensacola’s first Methodist congregation was established in 1821 by Alexander Talley, M. D. It met in a series of small, wood frame churches until 1881, when construction of a three-story, Romanesque Revival sanctuary was begun on this site. Service began here in 1884, but the building was not completed until 1890. The handsome red brick bell tower and gabled entrance portico of the church marked this corner of Palafox Street until 1909, when the property was sold and the congregation moved to a larger facilities on East Wright Street.
San Carlos Hotel
The imposing, seven-story San Carlos Hotel opened on this site in 1910 as the city’s largest and most elegant hotel. Designed by the well known New York architect W. L . Stoddard, it was built by the local firm of C. H. Turner Construction Co. at a cost of $500,000. Its simple masonry design was embellished with Renaissance Revival exterior details. It was extensively “modernized” and expanded from 157 to 403 rooms in 1920s, and continued to dominate the Palafox streetscape for the next 50 years. Increasing competition and gradual deterioration led to its closing in 1982. It was demolished in 1993.
Pictured | San Carlos Hotel, 1920s, UWF Historic Trust
The San Carlos hotel, nicknamed “Gray Lady” due to its pearly-gray stucco exterior, sat at the corner of Palafox and Garden Streets. Built with over 150 rooms, she underwent an expansion in 1927 which brought the room total to over 500. Sadly, the Gray Lady closed in 1982, then was demolished in 1993 due to deterioration. Learn more about POP: Murals.
Isis Theatre and the Rex Theatre
Looking east across N Palafox Street, two early theatre buildings can be seen: the Isis Theatre (2 N Palafox) and the Rex Theatre (18 N Palafox). The Isis Theatre was built in 1913 and later acquired by the Saenger Amusement Company in 1935. This small theatre was the ‘sister theater’ to the Saenger, which sent overflow guests to this location. The building the Rex Theatre occupied was built in 1910 as the Rhodes-Collins Furniture Company. The building was converted to the Rex Theatre in 1937, by the Saenger Amusement Company, which used the building as a second-run movie theatre. In 2014, the Rex was renovated and the original Art Deco façade was preserved.
Pictured | Rex Theatre, 1937
Pictured | ISIS Theatre, 1945