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The History of Ocala, Florida.

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Ocala Horse Farms

Did you know you can tour area farms in Ocala/Marion County, Florida?

 

Photo retrieved from Google Images.

Site of Fort King

Site of Fort King. The log stockade was a key point of the Second Seminole War and Osceola drew first blood within sight of its walls. 

 

ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Historic sites of Ocala, FL.

Photo retrieved from "ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Historic sites of Ocala, FL"

 

Fort King Historic District

 st

Fort King Historic District. A stunning array of unique and charming old homes give Ocala one of the most special historic districts of Florida. 

 

ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Historic sites of Ocala, FL.

Photo retrieved from "ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Historic sites of Ocala, FL"


Model of Fort King

A scale model of the historic 
fort can be seen at the Silver 
River Museum in Ocala.

 

ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Historic sites of Ocala, FL.

Photo retrieved from "ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Historic sites of Ocala, FL"

Ocala history

A glass-bottomed boat glides across beautiful Silver Springs, the most famous of the many points of interest in Ocala, FL.

 

ExploreSouthernHistory.com – Historic Sites of Ocala, FL

Photo retrieved from "ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Historic sites of Ocala, FL"

 

Silver River Museum

A massive prehistoric beast welcomes visitors to the stunning Silver River Museum.

 

Info and Photo retrieved from "ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Historic sites of Ocala, FL"

 

Silver River Springs

A glass-bottomed boat glides across the beautiful Silver Springs, the most famous of the many points of interest in Ocala, FL.

 

Info and Photo retrieved from "ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Historic sites of Ocala, FL"

Spring in the Silver River

Crystal clear water flows from a spring in Florida's beautiful Silver River. It is one of the state's natural wonders.

 

Info and Photo retrieved from "ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Historic sites of Ocala, FL"

Downtown Ocala

Downtown Ocala in the 50's - Note Malevers J.C. Penney, Belks, Keystone Jewelers, Sears, Marion Hotel, Western Auto, Western Union, First National Bank.

 

The Branan Blog. 

tombranan.typepad.com/
the_branan_blog/2009/07/old-o.html
 

Photo retrieved from "The Branan Blog"

Ocala Ritz

Formerly Ocala Ritz Inn/Apartments, now the Ocala Ritz Veterans Village.

 

Info and Photo retrieved from "ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Historic sites of Ocala, FL"

More Ocala History

Chicken Ranch - Located 1 block north of MRMC Hospital....a teenage hangout....another one was THE Big D which later became Mr. Hans, and is now Cactus Carwash on Pine Street.

 

The Branan Blog 
tombranan.typepad.com/
the_branan_blog/2009/07/old-o.html

The Old Courthouse Square

Designated as a Publilc Square in the original Ocala plat of 1846, this location was the site of Marion Colunty's first permanent courthouse built in 1851. it was a two-story frame building of Colonial design. The second courthouse was erected on this site in 1884, a two-story brick cube. Public dissatisfaction caused a third courthouse with more adequate space to be built ini 1906. It was of Roman design with a clock dome and veneered walls of Indiana sandstone. In 1965, when public efforts to save it failed, it was demolished. This site was given by Marion County to the City of Ocala in a property exchange, becoming a city park, thus retaining its function as a Public Square as planned by the city's founders.

 

Florida Historical Markers on Waymarking.com 

Photo retrieved from Florida Historical Markers on Waymarking.com

 

A Crossroads of Florida Heritage


For as long as human beings have walked the sandy soil of Florida, the
area that is now Ocala has been a crossroads of history.

The beautiful natural springs and wildlife rich ecosystems of the area
made it a natural center of activity for prehistoric Indians, who left rich
traces of their presence throughout the area. In fact, the name Ocala
itself comes from a Native American origin.

When the Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto began his march up the
peninsula of Florida in 1539, one of the first major Indian towns he
encountered was Ocale. His visit was brief and harsh, with many residents
of the Ocale chiefdom being marched away in chains to serve as slaves to
de Soto's men.

Future Spanish influence in the region was much different. Franciscan
missionaries came here during the 1600s to witness to the local Native
Americans. Many of them converted to Christianity. Like most other Florida
Native American groups, however, they were wiped out, enslaved and
scattered during the early 1700s when English led Creek raiders
entered the Spanish colony and destroyed its famed mission chain.

For many years the Ocala area was almost completely depopulated, but
during the mid-1700s groups of Creek Native Americans from Georgia and
Alabama made their way south to occupy the former Ocale lands. The
Spanish called them Cimmerons or "wild ones."  The Creek languages do
not include the letter "R," so they adapted the term to "Simmelons." Over
time it became the word Seminoles that we know today.

The Treaty of Moultrie Creek, signed in 1823, established the Ocala area
as the center of a vast reservation for the Seminole people. White plans
called for the eventual removal of the entire nation to new homes west of
the Mississippi, but the Seminoles resisted. Fort King 
was established at
Ocala to assert the power of the United States.

In December of 1835, resistance turned to open conflict when a party of
warriors led by Osceola killed Indian agent Wiley Thompson at Ocala. The
attack took place almost under 
the walls of Fort King and, combined with
the Dade Battle at what is now Bushnell, ignited the Second Seminole War
(1835-1842).

Much of the combat of the early years of the war took place in the region
around today's city of Ocala and Fort King took on great importance as a
U.S. Army post. Thousands of Seminoles were taken away at bayonet
point and moved to what is now Oklahoma in what became one of the
longest wars in American history.

In 1846 steps were taken to organize a town at the little frontier
settlement that had grown around Fort King. The railroad arrived in 1881
and brought with it tourists who came to Florida seeking better health
and winter warmth. Word of the beautiful natural springs in the vicinity
spread and Ocala became a major destination.

The most popular attraction visited by these early tourists was
Silver
Springs
, which boasted glass-bottomed boats as early as the 1870s.
President Ulysses S. Grant visited in the 1880s, followed by President
Calvin Coolidge in the 1920s. Silver Springs is a stunning and popular
attraction to this day, offering visitors the chance to gaze down into 
the depths of one of the true natural wonders of the world.

Ocala is also the center of Florida's famed thoroughbred horse country.
From 1943, when the first thoroughbred horse farm was established in
Marion County, Ocala has become the Horse Capital of the World. The 
industry creates 44,000 jobs and generates over $2 billion dollars for
the local economy.

 

Explore Southern History.com - Historic Sites of Ocala, FL.

First National Bank of Ocala 1889-1895

Coca-Cola Bottling Plant in Ocala

 

Interesting piece of Florida history!

The Coca-Cola Bottling Plant (also known as the Florida Coca-Cola Bottling Company) is located at 939 North Magnolia Avenue in Ocala, Florida.

Ocala

 

... the church where Jeepers Creeps was filmed. It is in Ocala, Florida

 

Info and Photo retrieved from "ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Historic sites of Ocala, FL"

Seven Sisters Inn Ocala, FL

 

Seven Sisters Inn Bed and Breakfast Ocala, Florida.

 

Photo retrieved from Google Images.

Ocala Fire Rescue

Ocala Fire Rescue   1915

 

Photo retrieved from Google Images.

Silver Springs State Park

The former Silver River State Park is now part of Silver Springs State Park. This
section of the park is also open from 8 a.m. until sunset and the entry fee covers
admission to both parts of the new park.   

One of the largest artesian springs ever discovered, Silver Springs is the primary 
source of Florida's stunning Silver River. The spring and river are located on the
outskirts of Ocala, Florida, and have been popular attractions since the 19th century.

Silver Springs was described in glowing terms in a widely read magazine article in 
1870 and it was not long before tourists flooded into Ocala to see the natural
wonder. Paddlewheel steamboats made their way up the Silver River to the main
spring and in the 1880s railroad cars began bringing even more tourists. Silver
Springs and the Silver River have been tourist attractions ever since.

Silver Springs has also been popular with Hollywood. Among the 20 movies filmed
in part there are Rebel Without A Cause, the James Bond film Moonraker and 
Distant Drums starring Gary Cooper.

Silver Springs State Park officially opened to the public on October 1, 2013. It is
open daily from 8 a.m. until sunset. Admission is $5 for vehicles carrying only one
person and $8 for vehicles carrying up to 8 people.


--Info and Photo from Silver Springs State Park 

http://www.exploresouthernhistory.com/silversprings.html

Downtown Ocala Historic District

Ocala became the first town and a commercial, educational, and religious center in what would become Marion County. The town first experienced some settlement within its commercial center in the 1840s. The city and its downtown section continued steady growth into the last part of the twentieth century. This was in part due to a major downtown fire in 1883 that required a considerable portion of downtown to be rebuilt, thus resulting in and constituting downtown Ocala’s second major period of development. Both archival and field data indicate that the Florida Land Boom years of the 1920s were not of great impact to construction in the downtown area as in most other cities in Florida during the same period. The city’s third substantial period of downtown development took place in the last part of the 1930s and early 1940s at the close of the Great Depression. Although downtown Ocala did see the completion of some commercial and industrial construction projects during this period and a substantial increase in new construction following World War II, a number of period buildings dating from the town’s earlier settlement survive.

Evidence of Ocala’s downtown commercial center’s original historic architectural character can still be seen within a few blocks of downtown in a number of Masonry Vernacular Style and/or Commercial Vernacular Style buildings that continue to relay their original historic setting, character, and use. In some other areas, a great deal of non-historic construction has taken place. In addition, in all areas of downtown, a number of historic downtown buildings have undergone considerable non-historic and/or non-sympathetic modification.

 

Info and Photo from Downtown Ocala Historic District  
http://www.ocalaonline.com/historic-ocala/downtown-ocala-historic-district/

Ocala Fire Rescue

Ocala Fire Rescue 1915 

 

Info and Photo from Downtown Ocala Historic District  
www.ocalaonline.com/historic-ocala/downtown-ocala-historic-district/

 

Welcome to Ocala

 

Photo retrieved from Google Images.

Looking back at Ocala's rich history

When Florida became a state in 1845, Marion County was one of the first named counties. Many of the early settlers came from South Carolina, where General Francis Marion “The Swamp Fox” was a local revolutionary war hero who led a guerilla band of soldiers and kept the British from conquering the South.

Marion County became the hub of a rapidly growing state, with tobacco, rice, sugar, cotton and cattle flourishing. In 1846 the county seat was platted and named Ocala. At the time of incorporation, the city limits were set 1,000 yards in all directions from the current downtown square.

The name Ocala comes from the extinct Timucuan Indians who called their village Ocali, commonly thought to mean “Big Hammock.” Today, many of Ocala’s streets have historical Indian names, while others have Spanish names from old land grants.

The early homes in Ocala were all constructed within a few blocks of the downtown Courthouse Square and are now part of the Ocala and Tuscawilla Park Historic Districts. During the Civil War, Florida and Marion County played major roles by furnishing the Confederacy with needed provisions. However, due to the privations of war and Union shipping blockades, the growth and development of Marion County stood still during the Civil War.

Between 1871 and 1875 there was significant growth and the citrus industry began in Marion County and saw the development of the “Parson Brown” and “Pineapple” oranges. Also, the discovery of phosphate prompted another land boom that is commemorated every year by “Boomtown Days” in Dunnellon.

By 1890, Ocala was one of the largest towns in Florida. Silver Springs had become an international tourist draw and Florida’s first tourist attraction.

Ocala is known as “Brick City” after a fire struck the heart of the city in November 1881. Four blocks of buildings were destroyed, including the courthouse, five hotels and all of the principal businesses. The wooden buildings replaced by brick structures, resulting in the new nickname.

By 1925, Ocala was considered Central Florida’s most progressive area. Agricultural products and cattle, turpentine and timber, and the richness of the limestone-based soil were major contributors to the vigor of the farming economy. The rich grazing, rolling hills, and year round pastures not available in other states, contributed to the development of the Thoroughbred industry in Marion County.

 

"Ocala Florida Farms and Land"

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Tuscawilla Park

The Tuscawilla Park Historic District has local significance in the areas of religion, social and humanitarian, politics and government, commerce, and architecture. Its extant historic buildings date from c. 1877 until c. 1930. The buildings embody the period when Ocala functioned as the center of transportation, Commerce, and government for Marion County and much of central Florida.

The Tuscawilla Park area is significant for its association with many of Ocala's prominent businessmen, politicians, and civic leaders, particularly members of the Jewish community. The oldest existing building in Florida, designated as a synagogue, built 1888, is located in the district. The district also contains some of the older residential buildings in Ocala. Most of these are frame vernacular, but they also include examples of Second Empire, Queen Anne, Colonial Revival, Gothic Revival, Spanish Revival, Georgian Revival, Carpenter Gothic, and Bungalow styles. While the district has lost some of its physical integrity, it generally retains the appearance it exhibited during its period of significance.

Most of the proposed historic district is located within a 1,500 acre tract of land known as the Antonio Alvarez Land Grant. Alvarez served as the Royal Secretary to the Spanish Governor at St. Augustine. He was also mayor of the City and owner of the building now owned by the St. Augustine Historical Society and known as the Oldest House. He received the grant from Governor Jose Coppinger on December 17, 1817, although he apparently never occupied it. The grant was located at a place called Big Swamp or Hammock.

The geographic area, which now forms Marion County, was the setting for many of the more important events associated with the Second Seminole War. Moreover, the ongoing conflict between the Seminoles and the United States had a direct influence on the development of the City of Ocala.

Because of its architectural significance, its associations with a number of important individuals and events, and its concentration of historic buildings within a defined geographic area, the Tuscawilla Park Historic District was listed in the National Register of Historic Places as a historic district in 1988.

 

Tuscawilla Park Historic District 

www.ocalafl.org/living/historic-preservation/tuscawilla-park-district  

 

Magnolia Street

 

Photo from Downtown Ocala Historic District  
http://www.ocalaonline.com/historic-ocala/downtown-ocala-historic-district/