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About Mexico Beach: History of Mexico Beach

History of Mexico BeachAccounts of Mexico Beach’s past are vague and sketchy before the early 1900’s. Sources agree that the first settlement in the area was Fort Chateuge, a French military installation built in 1718. The fort’s life was short, and it was abandoned as French interests in the Americas dwindled. Records indicate very little activity until the 1900’s when rumors of buried riches and sunken ships brought treasure hunters to the coast. One old sailing ship was found buried in shifting local sands, but the name of the ship and any record of it’s cargo have been lost.

History of Mexico BeachBusinessman Felix du Pont purchased the land now occupied by the city of Mexico Beach around 1900. Native pine trees were harvested to produce turpentine, and the area gained a bit of exposure to public eyes. Fishermen were among the first to embrace the newly discovered, and newly accessible, beaches. The allure of amazing Spring and Fall runs of migratory fish were as difficult to resist then as they are today.

The 1930s saw the completion of U.S. Highway 98, and vastly increased the number of visitors to the area. Livestock and wildlife still roamed freely along the new road, however, and accommodations were very limited. Growth was slow, and the sleepy community remained quiet.

 

In 1946, a group of farsighted businessmen led by Gordon Parker, W.T. McGowan, and J.W. Wainwright purchased 1,850 acres along the beach for $65,000.00. Shortly thereafter, development began in earnest. Parker’s son,

History of Mexico BeachCharlie, eventually took over development responsibilities for his father’s company, the Mexico Beach Corporation. His determination, efforts, and vision shaped the area into the Mexico Beach of today. Charlie Parker and wife, Inky, moved their lives and two daughters to the Forgotten Coast in 1949. Through dedication, hard work and sacrifice, they made Mexico Beach their home. The little community suffered growing pains, with many plans for development realized while others were shelved. The challenges were many, but slow growth ensued and Mexico Beach boasted several hundred residents by 1955. Always civic-minded, Charlie Parker led the community in a program of smart growth, community pride, and destination awareness.

By 1966, the little town was ready to incorporate, and the City of Mexico Beach was formed. Residents elected Charlie Parker as their first Mayor. Since then, the beach town has kept growing steadily. Over 1,000 residents currently call Mexico Beach home. City officials have embraced Parker’s vision, preserved Mexico Beach’s reputation as a family-friendly vacation spot, and attracted quality businesses to the Forgotten Coast. Mexico Beach has undeniable appeal. Residents love it and out-of-town visitors happily return year after year.

Much loved by his community and dearly-missed, Charlie Parker passed away in 2003. His beloved wife, Inky, was reunited with him in 2007. The Parkers’ legacy lives on, however. In 2007, the Mexico Beach Artificial Reef Association deployed the Charlie Parker Memorial Reef, and in 2008, the new Mexico Beach canal bridge on Highway 98 was named in his honor.

 

We Need Your Help

History of Mexico Beach"Parker Realty is collecting old photos to compile a record of Mexico Beach's history. If you would like to join in this effort, please send a copy of your old photos to:

Cathey Parker Hobbs,
c/o Parker Realty of Mexico Beach, Inc.,
P.O. Box 13123,
Mexico Beach, FL 32410.
You may contact Cathey at 850-648-5777, or by email: cathey@mexicobeachvacations.com.
Thanks so much!!

Charlie Parker Island

Aerial photo courtesy of Major Jack Alcock

Aerial photo courtesy of Major Jack Alcock