Namesake: Clement Taylor Park, one of Destin’s oldest parks

Tina Harbuck
The Destin Log

Editor’s Note: In the next few months, The Destin Log is going to be taking a look at the different parks within the city of Destin. Many of the parks bare the names of people who left a mark on Destin in one way or another. The Log will be looking to tell something about the park as well as the person behind the name. 

Clement Taylor Park, located at 131 Calhoun Avenue overlooking Choctawhatchee Bay, is one of Destin’s oldest parks. 

The 3.55 acre park includes a waterfront gazebo, pier, pavilion, beach swim area, playground, picnic area, grills, sand volleyball court, public restrooms and waste receptacles. The pavilion is available for rent to private organizations and individuals by calling the Destin Community Center at 850-654-5184. 

Destin's Clement Taylor Park is located on Calhoun Avenue overlooking Choctawhatchee Bay. The site was once the location of Destin's one-room school house.

But who was Clement Taylor? 

“He was my grandfather on my dad’s side,” said Lloyd Taylor, who served on Destin’s first city council in the mid-1980s and is still very active in the community. 

Taylor said his grandfather came to South Walton in the early 1900s and settled where the Cessna Corporation developed farms and housing developments. 

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“He was a missionary and had degrees from Oxford and many other degrees from various universities, because he was a life-long learner,” Taylor said. “But his primary goal in life was Christianity.”

Clement Taylor and his wife Louisa. Clement was born in 1866 and died in 1954.

Taylor said his grandfather was one of the first to help establish St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church along with the Maltezo family. 

He was not an ordained minister, but was a certified lay person in the Protestant Episcopal Church in England and later in America. 

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“My grandfather was highly educated,” Taylor said. 

Clement Edward Taylor was born Sept. 28, 1866, in London, England. Hi died on Jan. 11, 1954. 

Destin's Clement Taylor Park is located on Calhoun Avenue overlooking Choctawhatchee Bay. The site was once the location of Destin's one-room school house.

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In addition to his obtaining a degree from Oxford, he received a qualifying certificate from the Science and Art Department of the Committee on Education of Her Majesty’s Privy Council, according to the archives from the Destin History and Fishing Museum. 

He had license to teach in England, Canada and the United States. 

In 1911, after being in Canada for 18 months, Taylor and his wife Louisa Knowsley Taylor moved to Santa Rosa about 20 miles east of Destin. In 1912, Taylor was hired as the principal of the Mallalieu Seminary in Kinsey, Alabama, and his wife was the instructor of music. 

In 1914, they traveled to Destin and William T. Marler hired Clement Taylor to teach his and other children in the village. 

Clement Taylor and his wife Louisa.

In 1924, the Taylors made a permanent move to Destin after their homestead rights in Walton County had been confirmed. 

The park property 

Where Clement Taylor Park is located on Calhoun Avenue is the original site of that first school where Clement Taylor was asked to teach the village children. 

According to local historian Hank Klein, “the first church and school building in Destin was completed in September 1906. The building was 30-foot-by-60-foot in size and could accommodate 75 to 100 people."

About 30 children, ages 5 to 10 attended that first year with Clement Taylor, along with William T. Marler and Elisha Marler acting as the school’s first teachers, according to Klein. 

Destin's Clement Taylor Park is located on Calhoun Avenue overlooking Choctawhatchee Bay. The site was once the location of Destin's one-room school house.

In the mid-1950s, Destin Elementary School on Kelly Street opened and the site where the first school once stood became a park. 

“It was a county park with no name … we called it Calhoun Park because it was on Calhoun street,” said Muri Kersanac, who served as parks and recreation director for the city of Destin in the early days after incorporation until 2007. 

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“It’s the oldest city park,” Kersanac said. 

But soon after Destin became a city, the park was named. 

“It was named by the county,” Lloyd Taylor said, recalling he gave a speech at the dedication in the late 1980s. 

Not long after Destin became a city, they converted all the county parks to city parks, Kersanac said.