Here in Pensacola, we are so fortunate to have people who are committed to preserving our unique history. But when you are the oldest European settlement in the country with more than 450 years’ worth of history to protect, that task can be daunting. Historic Pensacola Village not only preserves our port city’s history, it showcases it in a way that is both educational and fun.
While driving east on Zarragossa Street in Downtown Pensacola, you may notice that as soon as you cross Tarragona Street, it's like you are driving back in time. That's because you have officially entered Historic Pensacola Village - where it's perfectly normal to see a man in colonial costume carving the better part of a musket, or a costumed woman cooking over a fire.
The village covers about 8.5 acres with 28 properties that range in architectural style from Greek Revival to Folk Victorian. One of the beautiful things about the Village is that truly spotlights the diversity of Pensacola’s 450+ years, all in a few square blocks. Eleven of the properties are open to tour groups, and guided tours are offered several times a day.
Each historic house within the village has its own incredible story, but one that stands out to me is Julee Cottage. This modest, Urban Creole style home was built around 1805 and is the only remaining building of that style in Pensacola. But that’s not all that makes this house a gem. The cottage is named after its former owner, Julee Panton. A woman owning a home in the 1800s was unusual enough. But a free woman of color owning a house at that period of time in the south? Now that was practically unheard of.
The house was just one of several properties that Julee would go on to buy in Pensacola, and she sold it to another free woman of color. Julee made her money by selling candles and baked goods, and it is believed that she used much of her money to buy the freedom of enslaved African Americans. Though it's hard to find evidence of how many African Americas she helped in her time, we can certainly say that she was an incredible woman with an unbelievable amount of kindness, courage and compassion.
Her cottage is included in the self-guided tour and is decorated to show what it would've looked like for an African American family during the Reconstruction Era. While in the Village, you'll also want to visit Old Christ Church, which is one of the oldest surviving churches in Florida, and Tivoli High House, where you will find lots of cool souvenirs. A few blocks away, you will find Voices of Pensacola, which showcases the diverse cultural groups that have shaped our community.
Also, part of the Historic Village is the T.T. Wentworth, Jr. Florida State Museum, which is housed in the former City Hall building and has three floors of exhibits to explore. There are also several restaurants, a brewery and a gelato shop in the Village, so plan to stay a while!
At Historic Pensacola Village, you have the unique ability to step back in time - no flux capacitor necessary.