Newsletter -- February/March, 2005.

HISTORIC PALATKA HOMES DESTROYED BY FIRE

Two historic homes within the North Historic District of the city of Palatka were destroyed by fire on the morning of December 23d. The two Main Street structures had been at the center of a controversy involving St. Mark’s Episcopal Church (the owner), the Historic Preservation Board, the Palatka City Commission, and citizens concerned with the integrity of Palatka’s historic districts. The Church had been granted the right to demolish or relocate the buildings by the City Commission when it overturned a previous ruling by the Historic Preservation Board that had been unfavorable to the Church. It was reported that at the time of the fire the Church had arranged for one house to be razed and the other relocated. While the fire’s origin was suspicious (no electrical service to either house, no lightning, not cold enough for transients to start a fire for warmth) no efforts to investigate are being undertaken. It is believed that the Church had the structures insured but the amount is unknown. By the second week of February both lots had been cleared of all debris.

THE GEORGIA SOUTHERN & FLORIDA RR IS COMING

Actually, it is the Georgia Southern & Florida Railroad Historical Society that will be visiting Palatka on March 18th and 19th to hold their annual meeting at the Union Depot. The Society was founded in 2001 to preserve the memory of this now-defunct railroad (and affiliated rail lines) that connected Macon, Georgia and Palatka by way of Lake City. Norfolk Southern, the GS & F’s successor, abandoned the Lake City-Palatka line in 1987. That line had been in operation since 1890. The Putnam County Historical Society will host the GS & F HS to a tour of the Bronson-Mulholland House and the Museum. In addition, Society Vice-President Larry Beaton is working to arrange additional activities that might include tours of historic homes, a presentation on railroads in Putnam County’s history, and a visit to the site of the GS&F’s first depot and wharf at the north end of town.

SOCIETY PLANS NEW BOOK ON HISTORY OF PUTNAM COUNTY

It has been nineteen years since the publication of The River Flows North: A History of Putnam County, Florida. Three thousand five hundred copies of that book were printed. Within the last couple of years the office of the Clerk of the Court sold the last remaining copies. During that time the Society’s Board of Directors has been toying with the idea of publishing a new book on our county’s history and has created a committee to undertake the task. We do not plan to “re-invent the wheel” by re-writing everything covered in The River Flows North. The Book Committee believes that enough new material can be gathered to populate a book of about 300 pages with an emphasis on family histories; the histories of institutions, organizations, and businesses; community histories; photographs, postcards, and other images of our county; and our history since World War II. The members of the committee are cognizant of the fact that they alone cannot produce such a volume. We must rely heavily on the citizens of Putnam County and all people with an interest in the history of our community. Much of our county's history sits in family scrapbooks and photo albums, in old family letters and diaries, in the records of local businesses and civic groups, and in the memories of citizens who have spent their lives in our community. Now is the time for you to share your history with the rest of your community! For more information about how you can help please contact Lynda Little Crabill at (386) 546-2400 or write her at P.O. Box 163; Palatka, FL 32178. You can also submit questions and comments about the project from the link on the Society’s webpage at www.putnamhistory.org.

MUSIC OF STEPHEN FOSTER TO BE PRESENTED AT BRONSON-MULHOLLAND HOUSE

The music of Stephen Foster will be presented in concert at the Bronson-Mulholland House on Sunday March 6th as part of Palatka’s Azalea Festival. Our Society’s own Ann Cameron will be joined by Bronson-Mulholland House docent Guy Willis to present three thirty-minute concerts at 2:00 P.M., 3:00 P.M., and 4:00 P.M. Please join us there as we celebrate one of America’s greatest composers.