Friday, May 9, 2008
Apalachicola River, Part Ten
Continuing our series on Civil War sites along Florida's historic Apalachicola River, this is the beautiful old Gregory House at Torreya State Park.
This beautifully restored home originally stood across the river from the park at Ocheesee Landing in Calhoun County. It was the home of Jason Gregory, the owner of a massive cotton plantation that spread across thousands of acres.
Then, as now, the home faced out over the river, but because Ocheesee Bluff was much lower than Rock Bluff, where the house stands today, it originally stood atop tall brick piers that allowed flood water to flow under the house during the annual spring floods. Eyewitness accounts from the 1850s describe how members of the Gregory family used to row boats out to the house during the floods, the living areas still dry thanks to the tall piers on which it stood.
The home was an important landmark during the Civil War. Confederate navy and army officers often visited with the Gregory family. Following the explosion of the C.S.S. Chattahoochee at Blountstown in 1863, victims of the accident were brought temporarily to the Gregory house for treatment until they could be carried to medical facilities upstream.
The Civil War and end of slave labor spelled the end of the Gregory plantation and it fell on hard times after the war. The house was donated to Torreya State park by the Neal Lumber Company during the 1930s. Carefully taken apart, it was moved by barge across the river and restored on its present site.
The home is now open to the public for guided tours and is one of the few remaining antebellum plantation structures along the Apalachicola River. To read more about Torreya, please visit www.exploresouthernhistory.com/torreyastatepark.
Our series will continue.