History and Fishing Museum sets future course

The Destin History and Fishing Museum's Dave Steele shows off some of the latest additions to the museum, a stained glass window, a cross that stood atop of the St. John’s Greek Orthodox Church, as well as a roof tile and a plaque dedicated in memory of John Maltezo, a founding father of the iconic chapel that once stood along U.S. 98 in the heart of Destin.

With newly acquired space and a few new hand-picked relics from the past, the Destin History and Fishing Museum is moving into the future.

"We now have a 25-year lease on this building," Fishing Museum board chairman Dave Steele told those gathered for the general meeting Wednesday at the museum on 108 Stahlman Avenue.

Included in that lease is the area on the south end of the building known as the Senior Center. Expanding into the former senior center area will open up 1,300 more square feet of space for the museum.

"The room will be used for educational classes, lecture series and other exhibits," said Jean Melvin, executive director of the museum.

She said the room may also be used for artifact preparation.

"We've got way more to do, then we have room," Melvin said.

In addition to the new space, the museum has a few new exhibits and acquired artifacts.

During 2013 the "Flipper" exhibit was completely refurbished, and a new exhibit space was created, "Dave’s Docks" to hold artifacts.

In recent months, the museum was able to acquire a few artifacts from the St. John's Greek Orthodox Church that was demolished back during the summer. Among the relics is one of the crosses that stood atop the church that was located in the heart of Destin on U.S. 98, as well as one of the stained glass windows and a shingle from the roof. The museum also acquired the marker that was displayed at the church in memory of John Maltezo, a founder of the church, who passed away in 1984.

"We're going to try and get the cross mounted on the wall," Steele said.

The museum is not just stopping with what they have. They are on the lookout to collect and incorporate artifacts that continue to tell the story of Destin’s heritage.

Plans for exhibits in 2014 include an audio self-guided tour and an expansion of the Destin Fishing Rodeo exhibit utilizing interactive technology.

The museum is looking to create a new exhibit featuring the early families in a "family album" of the early generations and their life in Destin to include the early Destin leaders.

And work to cover and repair the Primrose, which stands across the street from the museum, is on the to-do list in 2014.

"The trusses have already been donated for the roof" that will cover the Primrose, Steele said. William Frank Davis Jr. has agreed to build the carport like structure; all that is needed is a permit from the city, Steele said.