Early Development Patterns Focused on Neighborhoods
Apalachicola's layout was organized in the mid 1830s by the Apalachicola Land Company. The original plan, patterned after the City of Philadelphia, featured a one-mile square grid with a large central square and smaller squares surrounding it. Each of the town's squares were originally designed to serve as neighborhood communal areas - open and available for public use.
Franklin Square occupies the Northeast corner of the City's Historic District. Early depictions show this area, referred to as "The Hill," as having a prominent rise in elevation up from the commercial warehouse area that lined the river. Although large and elegant residences are scattered across the Hill, the more predominant styles that exist here are more modest Gulf Coast and Folk Victorian Cottages and Craftsman and vernacular styles of architecture. The area also contains a scattering of Shotgun houses.
Franklin Square borders one of the town's most unique examples of mission-style architecture — the Holy Family Center. The Holy Family Center was built in 1929 as a Catholic school for the black population of Apalachicola. The mission style building has four classrooms and an auditorium.
When the parishioners outgrew their church the school auditorium was converted to a church. The building continued
to be used as a school and church until 1964. Afterwards the building was used as a community center until the building became unsafe.
In 2004 the City of Apalachicola obtained the building from the church. The building was renovated into a Senior Citizens Center, and opened in 2012.
Considered the hub of the African-American community, Franklin Square features recreational amenities including a recreation center, that serves as a social gathering place for the African-American community.
The Northwest quadrant of the square features a lighted fenced in basketball and tennis court and the Northeast quadrant features playground equipment and a large picnic pavilion.
The remaining Southwest quadrant features open green space that serves as the site of the annual African-American History Festival.
Apalachicola's Historic Squares Are Part of the Original Plan
Apalachicolas' historic squares are identified as Washington Square, Gorrie Square, Chapman Square, Franklin Square, Madison Square and City Square. Four of the squares are arrayed in a square around the center. The central square - Washington Square - is the largest, covering a four block area. City Square is Apalachicola's sixth square, and it is uniquely set off from the organized plan of the other five.
Historically, buildings were oriented toward
these squares on all sides, but over time, this feature of the city's design was lost. Currently, only Trinity Episcopal Church at Gorrie Square upholds this part of the city's original plan.
Although development patterns have altered the original design and use of the City's squares, much of the integrity of these squares remain. It has been the expressed intent of City leaders, historic planners and preservation enthusiasts to preserve the squares as much as is possible.
Excerpted from the City of Apalachicola Comprehensive Plan Historic Element and the 1975 report titled "Economic Development through Historic Preservation" by noted Apalachicola architect and historian Willoughby Marshall and from the 2008 Project Riverway Report prepared for the City of Apalachicola by the University of Georgia's Fanning Institute. Appreciation also to local historian Mark Curenton.