17 First Presbyterian Church

information panel in front of a large white stone church

GPS: 1063 Circle Drive, DeFuniak Springs, FL 32435. Panel directly across Circle Drive at corner of Circle Drive & 7th Street.

The following is exact wording printed in interpretive panel #17 on the self-guided walking tour of the Florida Chautauqua Resort/Campus grounds opened in 1885 in DeFuniak Springs, Florida. This panel displays the history of First Presbyterian Church on the grounds.

The First Presbyterian Church was established in November 1883 more than a year before the Chautauqua resort/campus grounds opened in 1885. Its members first met in a modest log cabin on Nelson Avenue between Second and Third Streets, moving at least three more times prior to completing the church structure on the campus/resort grounds around 1890. The original building was made of brick provided by Frederick DeFuniak, long time chief engineer of the Louisville and Nashville Railroad after whom the City of DeFuniak Springs, Florida was later named. The plot of land on which this church sets was donated by leaders of the Florida Chautauqua.

The First Presbyterian congregation outgrew the brick edifice by the early 1920s and its red brick façade was demolished. The replacement building was built in 1923 of petrilite, a concrete product manufactured locally, at a cost of $45,000.

This last panel concludes your self-guided tour if you have followed the numbered sequence of all 17 panels on the historic grounds.  We hope you will return in December when these historic grounds are decorated with more than 6 million Christmas lights during a holiday event called "Christmas Reflections."

  • By Christopher Mitchell
  • Historical Research by Diane Merkel of the Walton County Heritage Association
  • Grant funding by the Florida Division of Historical Resources