Meeting at Old Christ Church
April 24, 2001
The public was invited to hear Dr. Matt Currin speak at a meeting of the Friends of St. John's Historic Cemetery at Old Christ Church. Dr. Currin, Rector of Christ Church and chairman of the committee which restored Old Christ Church discussed early Pensacola leaders during the pre-Civil War and early reconstruction eras, who are now interred in St. John's Historic Cemetery.
Dr. Currin, historian, scholar, and author of several books based on historical research, also talked about his book, The Search for the Lost Rectors, a moving story about Old Christ Church during the Civil War, and subsequent research and archaeological work by members of the University of West Florida staff.
Old Christ Church and St. John's Historic Cemetery
In 1827 the Protestant Association of Episcopalians, Methodists, Presbyterians, and Baptists banded together to organize Christ Church, using Episcopalian services. Thus, Christ Church was constructed in 1832. It was spared during the Civil War when most of the other buildings in Pensacola were destroyed. Today, old Christ Church is the oldest standing Protestant church building in Florida.
Many Pensacola leaders of the mid-nineteenth century who were also members of old Christ Church vestry were interred in the "new" St. John's Cemetery established in 1876. Some of them included Edward A. Perry, 14th governor of Florida, Walker Anderson, pre-Civil War Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Florida, Dr. John Jackson Scott, Rector of Christ Church from 1848 to 1849, Judge Augustus E. Maxwell and George S. Hallmark, educator.
Alexander Clement Blount and C.C. Yonge prominent in mid-century Pensacola were buried in St. Michael Cemetery, but later many members of their families were interred in St. John's. Members of other denominations and faiths also were leaders at that time. During the Civil War exodus of Pensacolians, Lucius Merritt, Presbyterian, stayed behind with the Security Committee to guard the homes of Pensacola. When he was unwilling to declare allegiance to the union he was imprisoned at Fort Pickens for a year. He and many members of his extended family are interred in St. John's.
During the last quarter of the nineteenth century with the boom-town economy of the timber, lumber, shipping and fishing industries, many new people with vision and industry came to Pensacola and helped to build the city and its institutions. During these years and subsequently, Presbyterians, Baptists, Methodists, Greek Orthodox, Lutherans and others, as well as Episcopalians, assumed strong leadership roles in shaping the community. Many of these leaders and their families are interred in St. John's Historic Cemetery.
Friends of St John's Historic Cemetery
Easy access: From downtown, drive west on Garden Street; turn right (north) on G Street and, passing the Armory site, go a few blocks to the entrance on Belmont and G.
Monthly Meetings: The fourth Tuesday of every month at 5:00 PM in the Vince Whibbs Conference Room at City Hall, unless a change in site for special events.