Protecting history, place, and a love story

May 27, 2019 | Apalachicola, Florida, Reserves

Apalachicola Reserve recently completed a major restoration of the historic Marshall House Field Station.

When Herbert Marshall built a vacation cottage for his wife Pearl in the 1940s, he probably wasn’t thinking about where to put the wash station for the UTVs coming back from sea turtle nest patrols. Or, that a place he built from the local lightkeeper’s house would become a hub for educators, scientists, and citizens who want to protect and enjoy the natural areas of Florida’s Little St. George Island.

Flash forward to today, and Marshall’s architectural valentine to Pearl has become the Marshall House Field Station at the Apalachicola Reserve. It’s a home base for research to understand the biodiversity of the bay, stewardship that tracks the health of native species and habitats, and outreach that engages the public in sustainable recreation on this popular barrier island.

In 1923, Pearl Porter married Herbert Marshall after he returned from the Navy. They moved into the former lightkeeper’s house, Pearl’s childhood home. During World War II, the island served as a practice gunnery range for B-24 bombers, and the Marshalls relocated to the mainland. When the Apalachicola Army Air Field closed in 1945 and the lightkeeper’s house was slated to be razed, Herbert purchased two Army barracks and salvaged materials from their former home to build the cottage. Today, the island is owned by the state of Florida and managed by the Apalachicola Reserve.

Committed to protecting this special piece and its history, the Apalachicola Reserve recently completed a major restoration of Marshall House that included a new roof, repairs to porches and sheds damaged by hurricanes, and new interior plumbing and fixtures. The staff also conducted a pre-emptive burn around the site to reduce the risk of wildfires and benefit native plants and wildlife.

“These repairs are part of our Reserves’ role to preserve and restore cultural resources on public lands,” says Caitlin Snyder, stewardship coordinator at the Apalachicola’s Reserve. “We’re also working on new interpretive signage, debris removal, living shoreline establishment, and a public dock. It’s all part of our mission to be public stewards of the land and resources.

The Marshall House Field Station now serves as a base for research and stewardship activities on Little St. George Island, a remote barrier island accessible only by boat.

ReservesApalachicola, FloridaProtecting history, place, and a love story