SoWal Towns

DeFuniak Springs

Walton County's Historic Center

For thousands of years, the area today known as DeFuniak Springs was inhabited by Native Americans.

On March 4, 1881 the Florida State Legislature incorporated the Pensacola and Atlantic Railroad. As the survey party set out from Pensacola to survey the route for the railroad, they happened across an open area with a round lake. The party camped on the shores of the lake and their leader, W D. Chipley, declared this would the perfect spot for a town and ordered the virgin forest not be cut around this spot and a stop would be made along the line here. The location as named after Frederick DeFuniak, president of the Pensacola and Atlantic Railroad. First known as Lake DeFuniak the name was later changed to DeFuniak Springs.

Today the historic train depot, owned by the City of DeFuniak Springs, houses the Walton Heritage Museum operated by the Walton Heritage Association. The City also owns the Chautauqua Hall of Brotherhood, which was built to replace the old Tabernacle auditorium built in 1884. Built in less than a year, the new Hall of Brotherhood was first used February 3rd, 1909 for the opening exercises of the Florida Chautauqua. At that time it was known as the most modern auditorium in the south with color dissolving lighting, seating for 4000, and a grand entryway designed to look like the U. S Capitol. The stage in the auditorium was said to be able to hold 100 actors. In 1975 hurricane Eloise destroyed the recently restored auditorium, so today only the front lobby and classroom portion remain and are rented out for special occasions such as weddings, birthdays, and reunions. Historic down town remains much as it did when visitors would arrive by train 100 years ago; the buildings retain their historic look.

Historic DeFuniak Springs has a rich and broad history which affected the nation, a small town that did great things, and still continues to do great things today.

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