History lives on: New historic park at Destin History and Fishing Museum

Savannah Vasquez
The seine boat Primrose was moved across Stalhman Ave. from beside the Destin Community Center on the west side of the street, to the new historical complex on the east side near the Destin History and Fishing Museum.

An 80-year-old is scheduled to be christened today during the city of Destin’s Founder’s Day celebration; an 80 year old boat that is.

Destin’s historical Primrose seine boat has been fully restored, and the re-christening will celebrate the brand-new boathouse exhibit beside the Destin History and Fishing Museum.

“This is the highlight of Founder’s Day,” said Museum Associate Director Kathy Marler Blue. “There will be a rededication of the old post office and a christening of the seine boat the Primrose.”

Marler Blue detailed that by moving the two large artifacts across the street, the museum now has an outdoor historical park to add to its indoor exhibits.

“On the North side of the museum there is a walkway to the boathouse which continues on to the post office,” said Marler Blue. “This really helps to bring together and create a historical complex.”

The new complex has been more than 10 years in the making, and finally culminated this year thanks to multiple donors and organizations working together for funds to build new housing and restore the Primrose and post office.

In addition to donations from generous community members and local businesses, the Destin Area Chamber of Commerce program, Destin Forward, chose the Primrose and post office restoration as the required community project for their nine-month course.

“It has to be something that makes an impact on Destin,” Chamber President Shane Moody said of the project. “This is the third project the Destin Forward groups have done that directly impacts the History and Fishing Museum, and the fifth overall that has had an impact on the harbor district.”

The historical significance of the Primrose and the post office hold tightly to the founding families of the city of Destin.

“The old post office is full of exhibits,” said Marler Blue. “The exhibits cover the Marler postal legacy from 1896-1972 when the Marler family handled the mail.”

As for the Primrose, some of Destin’s older generation remember the days the old seine boats used to sail. 

“My uncles and great uncles all worked on boats like that,” said city namesake, Dewey Destin. “We had one when I first started fishing, it was the first boat that I ever fished on when I was 16.”

Destin said that the Primrose, built in 1925, was the crème-of-the-crop back in the day as all other boats were fashioned after it.

“The thing about the Primrose was that it was the largest most state-of-the-art boat at that time,” Destin said. “Back then all the boats looked like that with the same design. For about 50 years that was the boat. They were primarily used for fishing inshore with seines or nets, but they also took them offshore to sail fish and they used them to take their fish to Pensacola to buy and sell. They were a salty bunch back then.”

After the Founder’s Day dedication, the historical park will be open to the public during regular museum hours.

“The biggest thing is that we will create a truly historic park area and the layout will enhance the visitor’s experience,” said Marler Blue. “It’s truly expanded the realm of the programming that we can offer the community.” 

WANNA GO?

Founder’s Day will take place at the Destin Community Center at 101 Stalhman Avenue from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The annual event will feature a fish fry, a dessert contest and a meet and greet with the city’s founding families. Following Founder’s Day, the re-christening of the Primrose will be held at the Destin History and Fishing Museum at 1 p.m.