Destin museum has interactive exhibit based on trees from Destin, Marler homesteads

Tina Harbuck
The Destin Log

Just like a tree ring logs history, a couple of tree slabs from local families is helping to shed some light in a new exhibit at the Destin History and Fishing Museum. 

The new exhibit at the museum, named "Our Roots Run Deep," features tree slabs from the original Destin and Marler homesteads.

"Trees are kind of nature's history loggers," said Vivienne Williams, who helped to pull the new exhibit together. 

Vivienne Williams, left, and Kathy Marler Blue, right, stand with the new interactive history exhibit at the Destin History and Fishing Museum. [MICHAEL SNYDER/DAILY NEWS]

Williams, originally from from Fort Walton Beach, has a masters in public history, which is geared toward museum work.

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"(Trees) keep track of weather and there's a whole science behind using tree rings to date artifacts and things like that ... so that started our initiative to use the trees to kind of show the timeline of Destin's history and even the county's history as a whole," Williams said.

The project got its roots after Kathy Marler Blue, executive director at the museum, saw a display in a museum in Fairhope, Alabama, about four years ago on tree rings. Plus she was wanting to showcase the information at the museum.

"She wanted it to be interactive for visitors to go through at their own pace and read what they wanted to read and add a whole new element to the museum as a whole," Williams said.

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So when the museum received two slabs, one from the original Destin homestead where the new Capt. Leonard Destin Park is located, and the Marler homestead things started to come together.

"Now everything is finally falling into place and it's really cool," Blue said.

The new exhibit includes a brief history of the trees and the tree ring from the Destin and Marler homestead.

"You can read about where it came from, where it was and what happened to the homestead," Williams said.

A slab cut from a 100 year old tree on the Marler Homestead is included in a new exhibit at the Destin History and Fishing Museum. [MICHAEL SNYDER/DAILY NEWS]

In addition to the trees, Williams also pulled together other interactive exhibits as part of the "Our Roots Run Deep" exhibit.

"I have an exhibit on the first people in this area ... and I talk about how the Gulf Coast was inhabited for the past 20,000 years in one form or fashion, and go through some of that history," Williams said.

She also did a piece on the founding families of Destin – all 16 of them.

"That was a job getting them all in," she said.

Included in the 16 are Brunson, Calhoun, Chambless, Destin, Jones, Kelly, Maltezo, Marler, Melvin, O'Neal, Paschall, Shirah, Taylor, Walter, Wells and Woodward families.

Blue said these are the 16 families who were living and working in what is now Destin before the first bridge was open in 1936.

Williams also pulled together a piece on the history of fishing in Destin, starting from seine net boats leading up to the what happens now and how fishing affects Destin.

She also hopes to add a section called "first innovations" that would include such things as the first phone line in Destin, first bridge, first school house and technical and educational advances.

"It's so impressive ... we're real proud of it," Blue said. "It's a program that can be added to, so that's a real plus."