In May, Riverbend Home Educators enjoyed a very enlightening field trip to the Apalachicola Arsenal Museum. Apalachicola Arsenal, originally Mt. Vernon Arsenal, is a Powder Magazine that was erected in 1834 and is a perfect example of the historical treasures that can be found in ones’ own backyard.
Upon arriving, we were greeting by the Museum Coordinator, Mrs. Linda Kranert, who was an absolute treasure herself! She had thought of every detail to accommodate our varying age groups and the parents alike.
The older kids toured the museum first, while the younger ones watched a historical movie and colored American soldiers from the Revolutionary War. They also participated in a time capsule project, which was very exciting! Their submissions will be included in the capsule and opened in 50 years. The little ones were baffled to discover that they would all be in their 50’s (and beyond!) by then.
When the older kids returned, it was time for the younger ones to tour. They were very engaged and asked some thoughtful questions throughout the process. It seemed they were also very intrigued by the hands-on history opportunities provided at the museum.
After the tours had been completed we enjoyed lunch in the beautifully restored arsenal and concluded our field trip. I would be remiss not to include some of the fascinating history of the arsenal, so below is information you can find on the sign outside of the building. I do encourage you to visit the museum yourself, as Mrs. Kranert is a wealth of information and she has big dreams for the future of this museum.
The Apalachicola Arsenal, originally known as the Mt. Vernon Arsenal, was built by the United States Army and served as an arms depot during the Second Seminole Indian War. Construction began in 1832, and was completed in 1839. The original compound consisted of nine buildings in a 400 ft. x 400 ft. quadrangle behind a 12-foot-high, 30-inch-thick perimeter wall, plus other outbuildings. The U.S. Army maintained the arsenal until 1861, when it was taken over by Confederate troops. Following the Civil War, the arsenal was used by the Freedman's Bureau until 1868, and then as the state's first penitentiary. In 1876, it became the first mental health hospital in Florida.
This structure, built as a gunpowder storage building or "powder magazine," is one of the arsenal's original outbuildings and the only one to survive. It originally had a hip roof and a single doorway located in the south wall, and was surrounded by a high brick containment wall. Over time, the Florida State Hospital used the structure as a coffin factory, carpenter shop, sewing center, and mattress factory. After undergoing numerous alterations and a period of neglect and abandonment, the building's restoration was completed in 2013.