When we arrived at the John Gorrie Museum, we learned that it was officially closed for renovations. Nonetheless, a park ranger invited us to see the exhibits that had not yet been dismantled.
There are displays about both the history of the town Apalachicola and the contributions to the community by Dr. Gorrie, a physician, scientist, and inventor. During the early 1800s, Apalachicola was a thriving port (the third largest on the Gulf after New Orleans and Mobile). Steamboats would transport cotton to the sailing vessels in Apalachicola Bay. The cotton was then shipped to the textile industries in England and New England. The turpentine business also became an important industry in the area due to the abundance of slash and longleaf pines in the late 1800s.
Dr. Gorrie arrived in Apalachicola in 1833 and served in many roles including mayor, postmaster, city treasurer, council member, bank director, and founder of Trinity Church. But his most important work was that as a physician for the community. When there was an outbreak of yellow fever, Gorrie designed a method for cooling their rooms. The machine he invented produced ice and is the foundation for modern refrigeration and air-conditioning. There is an extensive display about his work including a diagram of the concept of the machine. While it did not cure the disease, it did help ease the symptoms of his patients with yellow fever.
Jeremy, a park ranger, shared lots of information about the area and Dr. Gorrie with us. He is a great ambassador for Apalachicola and very knowledgeable about the history of the town, particularly the contributions made by Dr. Gorrie. Also, shown is a model (3/4 of actual size) of the ice machine. Gorrie received the first US Patent for mechanical refrigeration in 1851.
Across the street from the Museum is John Gorrie's Burial Site (1803-1855).
Also located in Gorrie Square is the John Gorrie Monument erected in 1899 by the Southern Ice Exchange.
Located behind the monument is Trinity Episcopal Church, founded in 1837 by Dr. Gorrie, and has continuously served the community since that time. It was originally named Christ Church.
The church was unlocked so we were able to see the beautiful interior. The wood to build the church was shipped to Apalachicola from New England. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1972.
Learning about Dr. Gorrie and his contributions to the Apalachicola community was fascinating. I had never heard of him before but will think of him when I am enjoying air conditioning! And the nearby Trinity Church was just gorgeous.