‘Old Sapp’ home future to be discussed at next County Commission meeting

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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB)- On Saturday, the possible demolition of what many consider to be a Bay County landmark caused an uproar on Facebook.

The ‘Old Sapp home’ located at 224 East 3rd Court in downtown Panama City was built in 1916.

Former mayor, Lauren DeGeorge, bought the property after being told it was so deteriorated that it couldn’t be saved. She went onto restore the home and even got it listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Now, there’s controversy surrounding the building as Historical Society Vice President, Bob Hurst, said the county is working to remove the home.

Hurst took to the ‘Historic Downtown Panama City’ Facebook page Saturday morning and released this statement:

“When the county said that the old Sapp Home at 224 E. 3rd Street had deteriorated to such an extent that it wasn’t economically feasible to save it, former mayor Lauren DeGeorge didn’t listen to them. She bought the property and every afternoon after work, she put on a carpenter’s belt and went to work restoring the old place to become a showcase home in the Downtown.

She proved them wrong, and went further by doing her research and getting her home on the National Register of Historic Places. The home was built in 1916 with the scaffolding from the recently built Courthouse for J. Mercer Sapp, one of the earliest attorneys in our city. His prairie-bungalow style home was the first to have an elevator, two bathrooms and hot water.

The front porch was a gathering place for citizens, politicians and attorneys to discuss the social and political happenings of the times. The home is featured on the front cover of the latest Downtown Panama City Historic Tour brochure. Now the county is still determined to remove this historic home, and, borrowing from the gist of the song Yellow Taxi, “pave Paradise and put up a parking lot”.

What triggered this decision was their first right of refusal if the property was to be sold. Several young entrepreneurs want to buy the land and preserve the old home. One would wonder if the county had thought it needed more parking lots, why didn’t they purchase the parcel across the street at 232-2361/2 McKenzie Avenue? Even though the two homes on that property have some historic significance, they probably are not of the same caliber as the historic Sapp Home and certainly aren’t worthy of National Register designation.

Please show your opposition to this potential transgression, and attend the County Commission meeting on Tuesday at 9 a.m. (Aug. 6) at the County Annex on West 11th Street. Please don’t let the late mayor’s hard work to preserve our heritage be obliterated by this ill-conceived notion of the county. It is the mission of the Historical Society of Bay County to preserve the history of our county, and we will certainly be there. It is the stated mission of the City to preserve the character, the image, the sense of place of our Downtown, and each time one of our heritage trees or our historic sites is violated, a little of that image dies.

The City should oppose this transgression and I hope will be represented at the meeting. The current city planners, Dover Kohl and Partners, you would think would oppose the county’s move, since they have responded before to the notion of more parking lots with the response that there are over 3 thousand parking spaces now in the Downtown. I hope all will be there.
Bob Hurst, Vice Pres., Historical Society of Bay County”

The discussion regarding the building’s future is set to take place at the Bay County Commission meeting this upcoming Tuesday at 9 a.m.

The topic is slated as item number 8 listed under the County Attorney’s report. Supporting documents for the topic are provided by the County and can be found here. To see the full agenda for this upcoming meeting, click here.

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