The town of St. Joseph dates to the 1830s and was a bustling city with about 12,000 residents. In 1838, it was selected as the site for Florida’s first Constitutional Convention where 56 delegates met from the surrounding territory and drafted Florida’s first constitution. Six years later, Florida became a State.
In 1841, three-fourths of St. Joseph’s population succumbed to yellow fever that arrived on a Spanish freighter. The approximate 400 remaining residents fled after a major hurricane in 1844. Re-established in the 1920s, the resurrected city went industrial with the opening of the St. Joe Company’s paper mill in 1938. Workers were well paid and easily employed at the mill, in related forestry industries or in maritime trades. Despite comparative prosperity from union wages and job security, the consistent paper mill stench sent most passers-by out of town quickly. Then the mill closed in 1999 bringing on a new era.
A gift of geography, Port St. Joe faces west, bringing stunning sunsets over Cape San Blas and St. Joseph Bay. Restaurants and a restored historic hotel take advantage of this, setting up tables and rocking chairs that are as comfortable for dining, sitting and talking as they are ideal for photographers. The beaches at nearby Cape San Blas are rated tops in the world.
Now the St. Joe Company has plans to remake Port St. Joe and to establish high-end developments and to build a larger marina. Currently in the works is upscale Windmark Beach which includes plans for over 1500 home sites.
Port St. Joe is well known for its fishing and has a state-of-the-art marina with covered slips, boat rentals, tour boat guides and fishing tournaments galore. Visitors enjoy offshore, freshwater or bay fishing for Speckled trout, redfish and tarpon. Eco-tours are available, as are sunset cruises, charters for snorkeling and diving with the dolphins, and pontoon rentals. Nearby St. Joseph’s State Park Beach has been rated the #1 beach in the country and offers plenty of opportunities for swimming, relaxing on soft, white sands, surfing, shelling, kayaking, paddle boarding and more. Historic downtown Port St. Joe has unique shops to explore, as do many of the other quaint seacoast towns along Florida’s northwest panhandle.
Port St. Joe is a friendly town with good folks with a great sense of community. The school system is very good and there are many fine churches here to choose from. People care about you and look out for their neighbors. It is a great place to live, work, play and raise a family.
Local festivities include a number of annual events. One of the most popular is the Scallop Festival, held in late summer each year. Christmas on the Coast, Taste of the Coast and Independence on the Coast (July 4th) are also popular events for tourists and locals alike. Other weekend activities include birding festivals, fishing tournaments, music in the park events, sporting events, and parades. Make sure to visit the Constitution Museum and historic Old St. Joseph Cemetery. There's plenty to do in this quiet coastal community.
We are very proud of our new hospital, Sacred Heart Hospital on the Gulf that opened March, 2010. It is located at 3801 E. Hwy 98, Port St. Joe, Florida (850) 229-5600 www.sacredheartonthegulf.org