Bagdad Historic  District  

BAGDAD VILLAGE HISTORIC DISTRICT

NATIONAL REGISTER OF HISTORIC PLACES    -    SANTA ROSA COUNTY, FL 

The Bagdad Village Preservation Association welcomes visitors to tour Bagdad's Historic District.  Touring the village will introduce a few highlighted sites that give a glimpse into Bagdad's history as a mill town.

Introduction to Historic District:

In  the  early  1800s,  abundant  stands  of  Long  leaf  yellow  pine  lured  Joseph Forsyth and his partners, Andrew and Ezekiel Simpson into a prosperous sawmill business.  Located on Pond Creek, Arcadia Mill thrived in producing lumber goods as one of the main industries in Santa Rosa County.  The mill expanded by adding a bucket factory, a silk worm filature operation, and a textile mill producing cotton cloth.  

Picture of Joseph Forsyth - Joseph Forsyth is the founder of Bagdad, FL, located in Santa Rosa County.  In 1840, Forsyth and his partners moved their sawmill facilities from upper Pond Creek downstream to a more strategic location where Pond Creek empties her waters into the Blackwater River.  It is here that the Village of Bagdad developed as a lumber mill community.
Simpson & Co.'s Bagdad Mill illustrated

In 1840, Forsyth and his partners moved their sawmill facilities from upper Pond Creek downstream to a more strategic location where Pond Creek empties her waters into the Blackwater River.  It is here that the Village of Bagdad developed as a lumber mill community.

From 1840 to 1939, prosperity touched many of those in Bagdad who derived an income directly or indirectly from the lumber and shipping industries.

Eventually the glorious stands of Long leaf pine were stripped from the land bringing an end to the lumber industry.  Without the foresight of replanting the trees, Bagdad and the other sawmill communities met their fate as they lost this most valuable resource.

The years following the close of the mill brought Bagdad Village to the present.  The mill sold their properties and family life continued on.  Housing for military was in demand which transitioned Bagdad into a residential community.

Picture of the Bagdad Inn - The Bagdad Inn was a fine hotel that opened in September of 1913.  The hotel entertained dignitaries from all over the world who traveled to the Bagdad’s lumber mill for business.  This building was located in Bagdad, FL, Santa Rosa County.

(Above)  The Bagdad Inn opened in 1913, entertaining dignitaries from all over the world who traveled to the mill for business.

The structures that remain today in the Bagdad Village Historic District are dated back to 1847.  Bagdad's lumber industry carried the village through five eras: 

Survey of Bagdad, circa 1851 - This map is a survey of Bagdad, FL, circa 1851, and depicts the areas in Santa Rosa County, FL, where Joseph Forsyth held tracts of land. Joseph Forsyth, the founder of Bagdad, FL, was born in Connecticut in 1802.  He came to Pensacola via New Orleans in the early 1820's.  He bought a land tract on Pond Creek from Juan de la Rua in 1828 known today as Arcadia.  Forsyth, along with business partner E. E. Simpson and the rest of his associates transformed this site into a thriving lumber industry for Santa Rosa County, Florida.  In 1840, Forsyth & Simpson Company moved their sawmill operations to the confluence of Pond Creek and the Blackwater River to better facilitate the transportation of their lumber products.  This location and its surrounding mill town were named Bagdad by Forsyth.  Forsyth continued building, setting up a sash factory and converting the Arcadia site into Florida's first textile factory while his new location for the lumber mill went

FORSYTH & SIMPSON ERA, 1840 -1855

Bagdad Village consisted of a small commercial center on Thompson Street.  Here, the commissary, small stores, barber shop, and post office where originally located.

 

Streets were given names of mill owners or after their family members.  The houses were positioned on these streets in a class arrangement.

Map of Bagdad Village - This is a map of Bagdad Village in Santa Rosa County, FL, which consisted of a small commercial center on Thompson Street.  Here, the commissary, small stores, barber shop, and post office where originally located.  Streets were given names of mill owners or after their family members.  The houses were positioned on these streets in a class arrangement.

E. E. SIMPSON ERA, 1855 -1866

The size and architectural style of each structure in the Village of Bagdad was an indication of the wealth of its owner.  

 

As the first years of the Civil War began, the lumber mill and shipyards continued in their prosperity.  A major Union advance occurred however, bringing about the withdrawal   of   Confederate   troops   from 

the area.  To prevent assets from falling into Union hands, all industry was destroyed by the Confederates during Beard's raid. Two homes still remain from this period as most of the village inadvertently caught fire from drift of sparks during the raid.

Picture of Creary House - This Frame Vernacular Style antebellum house was owned by James Edwin and Ella B. Creary. Creary was one of six partners in the E. E. Simpson Company. The home is adorned with ornamental porch brackets and a porte-cochere.  This home is located in Bagdad, FL, Santa Rosa County.

(Left) The Thompson House is among the oldest and best- known  houses  in Bagdad.  It is an example of Greek Revival architecture and is believed to have been built between   1858  and 1860 by Benjamin W. Thompson.  

Picture of Thompson House - The Thompson House is among the oldest and best-known houses in Bagdad.  It is an example of Greek Revival architecture and is believed to have been built between   1858 and 1860 by Benjamin W. Thompson.  This home is located on Forsyth St in Bagdad, FL, Santa Rosa County.

(Above) This Frame Vernacular style antebellum house was owned by James Edwin Creary and his wife, Ella.  Creary was one of six partners in the E. E. Simpson Company. The home is adorned with ornamental porch brackets and a porte-cochere. 

Florida Heritage sign.PNG

SIMPSON & COMPANY ERA, 1866 -1903  

The Village of Bagdad quickly recovered following the Civil War.  As the mill expanded, Frame Vernacular and Creole Cottage dom-inated this era's architectural styles.  

(Right) The unique architectural design of the First United Methodist Church was drawn by Charles H. Overman, part owner of the Bagdad Mill.  This 1883 Gothic Revival style structure was fitted with oil lamps and a huge wood-coal heater.  These were replaced in 1909 when the sanctuary was wired for electricity supplied from the mill.

Picture of Bagdad United Methodist Church - The unique architectural design of the First United Methodist Church was drawn by Charles H. Overman, part owner of the Bagdad Mill.  This 1883 Gothic Revival Style structure was fitted with oil lamps and a huge wood-coal heater.  These were replaced in 1909 when the sanctuary was wired for electricity supplied from the mill.  This church is located on Forsyth St in Bagdad, FL, Santa Rosa County.
Florida Heritage sign.PNG
Picture of Lee Brown - Beach House - This home is among several Creole Cottages in the Village.  The Creole Cottage, also known as the Gulf Coast Cottage, is a specialized form of the Frame Vernacular which is thought to be from the West Indies.  No other Creole Cottages are found east of the Village of Bagdad.  This home is located on Forsyth St in Bagdad, FL, Santa Rosa County.

(Right) Built before 1900, this Double Pen style home illustrates how popular rural vernacular building styles were adapted and utilized by the lumber company builders.  These cottages evolved from single room log cabins, adding an additional room (pen) alongside, thus creating a home that was two rooms wide and a single room deep.

(Left) This home is among several Creole Cottages in the Village.  The Creole Cottage, also known as the Gulf Coast Cottage, is a specialized form of the Frame Vernacular which is thought to be from the West Indies.  No other Creole Cottages are found east of the Village of Bagdad.

Picture of Crabtree - Wilks House - Built before 1900, this Double Pen Style home illustrates how popular rural vernacular building styles were adapted and utilized by the lumber company builders.  These cottages evolved from single room log cabins, adding an additional room (pen) alongside, thus creating a home that was two rooms wide and a single room deep.  This home is located on Forsyth St in Bagdad, FL, Santa Rosa County.

STEARNS & CULVER COMPANY ERA, 1903 -1923    

This era brought about the construction of larger homes along Forsyth Street to accommodate the superintendents of the mill.  The homes were mostly Frame Vernacular styles but were given local names:  the Bagdad Saltbox, the Four-square, and the Double House.

Picture of Arnold House - This Double House (showing left side) dates to 1912 and is one of six built in Bagdad.  The 'townhouse' accommodated two families.  Each side was a mirror image of the other having two rooms on the upper floor, three rooms on the lower, and a side entry.  This home is located on Forsyth St in Bagdad, FL, Santa Rosa County.
Picture of Arnold House - This Double House (showing right side) dates to 1912 and is one of six built in Bagdad.  The 'townhouse' accommodated two families.  Each side was a mirror image of the other having two rooms on the upper floor, three rooms on the lower, and a side entry.  This home is located on Forsyth St in Bagdad, FL, Santa Rosa County.

(Above) This Double House dates to 1912 and is one of six built in Bagdad.  The 'townhouse' accommodated two families.  Each side was a mirror image of the other having two rooms on the upper floor, three rooms on the lower, and a side entry.

Picture of Forcade House - This rare example of a 1919 Shingle Style home was built by Elzear Forcade and is one of four Florida Heritage Sites in the Historic Village of Bagdad.  Asymmetrical forms below balance the butt shingle details covering the upper floor.  This home is located on the corner of Allen St and Church St in Bagdad, FL, Santa Rosa County.
Picture of Forcade House Balcony – This is an enlarged view of the balcony on the Forcade House which is a rare example of a Shingle Style home, built by Elzear Forcade in 1919.  Asymmetrical forms below balance the butt shingle details covering the upper floor.  This home is located on the corner of Allen St and Church St in Bagdad, FL, Santa Rosa County.

Other unique styles of Frame Vernacular were built in the Village including a Shingle Style house and a Dutch Colonial Revival which is rare for North-west Florida.  

(Left) This is a rare example of a Shingle  Style  home, built by Elzear Forcade in 1919.  Asymmetrical forms below balance the butt shingle details (Above) covering the upper floor .

Florida Heritage sign.PNG

BAGDAD LAND & LUMBER COMPANY ERA, 1923 -1945  

During this era, more homes for company superintendents were built along Main St. as the Village expanded.  Bagdad adopted both the larger and smaller versions of the Bungalow style while Frame Vernacular continued to be influenced by new building trends.  

Picture of Snoddy - Allen House - This Frame Vernacular Style cottage illustrates the continued adaptation in building features.  It was built by the Bagdad Lumber Company and features a hip roof with a gable detail above the porch.  This home is located on Main St in Bagdad, FL, Santa Rosa County.
Picture of Work - Davis House - This side-gabled Bungalow Style home was built for mill superintendent E. C. Work.  The two-story home features a grand porch set under a roof-line with wide overhanging eaves and an upper dormer banded with windows.  This home is located on Main St in Bagdad, FL, Santa Rosa County.

(Left) This Frame Vernacular style cottage illustrates the continued adaptation in building features.  It was built by the Bagdad Lumber Company and features a hip roof with a gable detail above the porch. 

(Right) This side-gabled Bungalow style home was built for mill superintendent E. C. Work.  The two-story home features a grand porch with wide overhanging eaves and an upper dormer banded with windows.

Picture of Church St Shotgun House - The Shotgun House is typically one room wide and several rooms deep.  The front door was offset and opened into a hallway running the length of the building.  The Shotgun homes in Bagdad lack the hallway, thus each room is entered from doorway to doorway.  This home is located on Main St in Bagdad, FL, Santa Rosa County.

The Shotgun House, a sub-type of Frame Vernacular, was built to house the mill employees.  Most of these are found on Church,  Limit,  School  and  Water Streets and have been expanded to accommodate growing families.

(Left) The Shotgun House is typically one room wide and several rooms deep.  The front door was offset and opened into a hallway running the length of the building.  The Shotgun style homes in Bagdad lack the hallway, thus each room is entered from doorway to doorway.

Beyond Church and Simpson Streets was housing for the African-American workforce.  Many of the buildings date from the late 1800's to the early 1900's.  The most significant of these is the New Providence Missionary Baptist Church which began construction in 1874 and was finally complete in 1901.  

(Right) Formerly New Providence Missionary Baptist Church, the Bagdad Village Museum is constructed of Heart Pine lumber hauled from the old Bay Point Mill.  It was built by newly freed slaves and free African-Americans in 1874, and served as a school for African-American children in the early years.

Picture of Bagdad Village Museum Complex - Formerly New Providence Missionary Baptist Church, the Bagdad Village Museum is constructed of Heart Pine lumber hauled from the old Bay Point Mill.  It was built by newly freed slaves and free black men in 1874, and served as a school for black children in the early years.  The building is believed to be the oldest Black Church in existence in Santa Rosa County.  It was built during a very important era in the history of Black religion in Florida. This was a time when Black communities were just beginning to establish themselves and function independently.  After replacing their church in 1987 with a new building, the congregation of New Providence Missionary Baptist Church donated the original historic structure to the Bagdad Village Preservation Association.  The building was moved to Church Street and now serves as the Bagdad Village Museum.  The Bagdad Village Museum complex is located on Main St at the corner of Bushnell St in Bagdad, FL

The building was made of heart pine and is believed to be the oldest African-American in existence in Santa Rosa County.  It was built during a very important era in the history of African-American religion in Florida.  This was a time when African-American communities were just beginning to establish themselves and function independently. 

After replacing their church in 1987 with a new building, the congregation of New Providence Missionary Baptist Church donated the original historic structure to the Bagdad Village Preservation Association.

 

The building was moved to Church Street and now serves as the Historic Bagdad Village Museum.  It sits alongside a Shotgun House known as the Milligan House which was also donated to the Museum and serves as an auxiliary building.  

Picture of Milligan House - This house, known as the Milligan House, is a Shotgun Style built in 1929 by the Bagdad Land & Lumber Co. and is now part of the Bagdad Museum Complex located on Main St in Bagdad, FL, Santa Rosa County.

(Above) This house, known as the Milligan House, is a Shotgun style built in 1929 by the Bagdad Land & Lumber Co. and is now part of the Bagdad Museum Complex.

 

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