St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church is a thing of memory.

Located at 303 Hwy. 98, the church was built in 1984 in remembrance of John George Maltezos, early church founder and shipbuilder in Destin.

After demolishing the structure on Friday, heavy equipment was back on the scene Monday morning removing the rubble.

Local businessman Mike Buckingham purchased the church and property for $330,000 in 2012 with plans to ultimately develop the property into a new business venture. Buckingham said he plans to build a 1,200-square foot concrete structure at the front of the property, in addition to about 14 parking spaces.


This article appeared in a 1992 article in the Northwest Florida Daily News written by Columnist Loyal Phillips

Destin Greek Orthodox church traces roots to local families

The beautiful and unique St. Johns Greek Orthodox Church at 303 U.S. Highway 98 E., Destin, serves four prominent families, their relatives and guests.

The building, which was completed in 1984, was erected as a memorial to John Maltezo by two of his daughters, the late Stella Marler, and Cleo Marler.

Stella was married to the late Dave Marler and Cleo is the widow of Ben Marler. The Marler husbands were brothers.

During an interview with Cleo, held inside the church, I was told that close relatives of the two sisters supplied part of the furnishings for the altar and the nave.

There is a hand-carved tomb which is used in Good Friday services and a mystery table which is used during weddings and confirmation services.

A huge Bishop's Chair is for the exclusive use of the Bishop of the Atlanta Diocese whenever he is present and there is a large and handsome Book of Psalms.

Two large paintings in the nave typify the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. One on the west wall shows Jesus hanging on the cross while the other on the opposite east wall shows him rising from the grave.

"During services, only men and altar boys enter the altar area'' Marler said. ``In a communion service, warm water is used to remind participants of the blood of Jesus.

 ``Men perform all actions involved in communions, except the baking of bread, which is done by women of the church. Communion bread is composed of flour, yeast and water.''

 There is an incense burner which is used during all services and a chain with 12 bells, representing the 12 disciples of Christ.

 ``Divine Liturgy is held on Sundays and impressive services are arranged for Christmas and Easter,'' Marler said. ``Among other services is a commemoration of the birth of John the Baptist.

 ``An important date in the history of the Greek Orthodox Church is 1054, on which date there was a separation, out of which emerged the Greek Orthodox Church.''

 The interior of the building is beautiful with colorful stained-glass windows and handsome furnishings, including meaningful pieces used in services.

 The Rev. Aristotle Damaskos, pastor of St. Markella and St. Demetrios, at Mary Esther, also serves as pastor of St. Johns Church.

 ``St. Johns is a family memorial chapel for weddings, baptisms and funerals and I hold regular services there four times per year,'' Damaskos said. ``Attendance may range from 20 up to 120 and members also use the chapel for prayers.

``Principal families using the chapel are the Marlers, Maltezos, Trammells and Hanshaws.''

 Marler said her father, John Maltezo, was a Pensacola boat builder who during his later years moved to Destin.