John Gorrie Museum State Park is part of Apalachicola’s trio of interconnected state parks and museums that visitors can access from one parking area. A series of walkways allows visitors to walk around the historic area that is Apalachicola, Florida. The John Gorrie Museum State Park is dedicated to the honor of Apalachicola citizen, Dr. John Gorrie who pioneered the fist air conditioning and ice machine. He used the device to cool rooms of his patients who suffered from the debilitating yellow fever.
In the early 1800’s, yellow fever was an epidemic that was avoided at all costs. Little was known about this horrific disease other than it was highly contagious, most people who got it, (70%) died and its symptoms included yellowing of the skin (jaundice), internal bleeding and extreme fevers. Entire areas were quarantined and victims quickly buried with the belongings burned. There is still no known cure for yellow fever to this day.
Today, the fever is gone and John Gorrie Museum State Park contains the gravesite of the doctor who tried to find a cure and instead invented a revolutionary device. A replica of the first ice machine the doctor invented is on display in the museum as well as other informative displays and interpretative exhibits about this interesting man. A beautiful monument dedicated to him stands nearby in the square.
Once the doctor realized the potential of the machine he had created, he gave up his medical practice to find an investor. He hired an agent in New York City who bilked him of funds, leaving the doctor in despair. Traveling to New Orleans for reprise, he found a man from Boston who bought half of the project. He immediately died.
This sent the great doctor into depression. He returned to his Apalachicola home penniless and broke, only to die himself some months later. His machine was never sold, but the early patents helped to inspire the first air conditionings and refrigeration equipment, revolutionizing the way we eat and live.
One of the first two museum ever erected by the Florida Park Service in 1958, John Gorrie Museum State Park is host to so much more. So if you’re ready for the perfect Florida small town that is life in the south, then visit Apalachicola, Florida.
To learn more about how to get to John Gorrie Museum State Park, fees, hours of operations and other park amenities, visit the official Florida state park website here.