Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Mariana Florida – A Quick Look

After overnighting in Dothan Alabama, we quickly rolled over the state line into Florida.  As usual, I had a list of historic sites that we might photograph should time permit...

Our first stop was in Mariana Florida.  Mariana’s official nickname is “The City of Southern Charm”. 

This is the old Louisville and Nashville Railroad Passenger Depot.  It was built in 1882 and once stood along the north side of the railroad tracks near Caledonia Street.  In the early 1900's, the building was moved to make way for a larger depot.  It now serves as an insurance company office…


·       Marianna was founded in 1828 by a Scottish entrepreneur who named the town after his wife, Mary and her friend Anna, combining their names to form Marianna.

·       Mariana is the final resting place of the Confederate governor of Florida, Governor John Milton.  Governor Milton owned Sylvania Plantation and hundreds of slaves, was the governor of Florida during the Civil War years. Governor Milton vowed that he would rather die than see the Confederates reunite with the Unionist states.  In late spring 1865, as federal troops were preparing to take control of Tallahassee, Milton received word the Civil War had ended and that Florida would, once again, be part of the United States.  On April 1, 1865, as the southern cause was collapsing, John Milton shot himself.  In his last message to the legislature, he had said, "Death would be preferable to reunion."

The small depot was part of a large wood frame passenger and freight complex that once stood north of the railroad tracks.  In the early 1900's, the building was moved to make way for a larger passenger facility.  After the depot was damaged by fire in 1979, it was moved to its present site and restored to largely its original appearance.


·       Marianna was the site of the 1934 brutal torture and lynching of Claude Neal, an African American man accused of rape and murder. The national publicity generated by the lynching, and resulting protests, played a significant role in the history of the United States by helping to inspire national anti-lynching laws.  After the lynching there were race riots when the KKK tried to eliminate all residents of Mariana who were identified as Black.  The six vigilantes that led the lynching remain unnamed.

·       Mariana was also the home of The Florida School for Boys, a reform school operated by the state of Florida from January 1, 1900, to June 30, 2011. For a time, it was the largest juvenile reform institution in the United States.  Throughout its 111-year history, the school gained a reputation for abuse, beatings, rapes, torture, and even murder of students by staff.  To learn more about this hell hole, you can go to

This is the Old First National Bank of Marianna.  The building is now used as the data processing and bookkeeping center for the Southtrust Bank of North Florida.  This limestone building was constructed in 1907.  At one time the bank was just one of a row of commercial buildings that lined the west side of Caledonia Street.  Its neighbors have all been demolished.  The facade of the two-story building has the appearance of a small Greek or Roman temple.  Perched on top of the gable on a stone globe is a bronze eagle with outspread wings.

This is the U.S. Post Office and Courthouse.  The Mediterranean Revival style U.S. Post Office was constructed in 1927 at a cost of $100,000 and it is still the main postal facility in Marianna.  The two-story stuccoed concrete block building has a gable roof surfaced with mottled red clay tile. The first floor is devoted mainly to handling the U.S. mail, while the second floor contains a variety of regional federal offices and a courtroom.


·       For those of us of a certain age, it is worth noting that pop and country singer and songwriter Bobby Goldsboro is from Mariana.  Goldsboro had 16 Top 40 Hit on the Billboard HOT 100 as well as 12 hits on the country charts.  Interestingly, he has now established himself as an accomplished and successful artist with prices for his works reaching as high as $25,000.  To learn more about Bobby Goldsboro, you can go to  His website and artwork can be found at

The Joseph W. Jr. Russ House is a historic home that was built between 1892 and 1895.  It now serves as Jackson County Florida's Visitor Center.
Joseph Russ’s position in the community remained one of prominence until his death. He suffered greatly from the financial collapse of 1929.  The family's extensive land holdings had to be sold to meet debt and tax obligations.  In 1930, Mr. Russ committed suicide because of the impact of the Depression on his life.

His daughter, Frances Russ Dickerson continued to live in the family home with her two young children after Mr. Russ' death, having purchased the home from his widow. In order to maintain the house, Mrs. Dickerson offered her home as a setting for community social events; she acted as a hostess for these affairs, using her belongings in serving guests.  During World War II, she rented the upstairs bedrooms to military personnel. 

While I can’t absolutely confirm that either of the preceding homes is included in the Mariana Historic District, I do know that many homes are included in this grouping of 181 contributing structures which covers 50 acres near the center of town.  Some of the homes listed are more modest, with that American classic look of the first photo while others are imposing and occupy large lots near downtown Mariana.  In both size and design, this second photo of a home is similar to nearby Great Oaks, which is individually listed on the National Register.

To learn more about Mariana Florida’s extensive Historic District, you can go to

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a short tour of this beautiful Florida town!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave 


  1. I enjoyed Bobby Goldsboro but haven't heard his name in years.

  2. I'm now listening to Bobby's music as I finish my blog reading.

  3. Well, I've said here before how near and dear L&N is to our hearts, this that's where Bill started his RR career so of course, I like that little depot!
    This little town has interesting history, although, not all good. John Milton was true to his words and the lynching and home for boys are horrible memories for a town. The post office building is nice and tropical looking.
    The Russ House is unique, love the porches! And I am definitely of that certain age and remember Bobby Goldsboro well.
    Thanks for the interesting post! I always told/tell my kids to "learn something new today," and thanks to you, Dave, I have!

  4. Fascinating post, Dave, and so much history! The buildings are lovely. It is sad about what happened at that school.

  5. Always is fun see pictures of yours travels David!! Hugs!!