Fort Walton Schoolhouse Museum
The Fort Walton Schoolhouse Museum is part of the Heritage Park and Cultural Center in Fort Walton Beach, Florida. It is a two-room historic structure located on the same property as the Indian Temple Mound Museum. This building was the first schoolhouse built for the children in Camp Walton (now Fort Walton Beach). The mission of the museum is to maintain and interpret artifacts from the Camp Walton and from Okaloosa Country's educational system from 1911 to the 1930s.
Backstory and Context
The city of received its name from a fortified Confederate camp established during the Civil War, although the name "Camp Walton" did not appear on maps until 1911. In that same year, this school was constructed utilizing the native pine and oak woods. It was originally positioned across the street from what is now the Chamber of Commerce and was the first schoolhouse built for children in Camp Walton (now Fort Walton Beach). The school opened in 1912 to a class of 15 students and 1 teacher. Children spanning 8 grades were taught in its single room. A second room was added in 1927, which functioned as a high school (grades 9-12).
In 1927, the schoolhouse closed and was replaced by the new, brick Fort Walton School. John Brooks of the Gulf View Motor Company bought the old school, which was moved to Forth and Tupelo. It served as apartment homes for families during the Second World War. The next owners continued renting out the building but, by the 1970s, the structure was abandoned. Owing to its dilapidated state, the schoolhouse was slated for demolition. Though it was to be burned by the fire department, the historic structure was saved when members of the Junior Service League requested that the owners donate it.
In 1974, the Junior Service League and Okaloosa Country School Board undertook a preservation effort to restore the building. The schoolhouse was relocated a second time to First Street and, in 1976, reopened as an educational museum. Ten years later, the city government assumed the facility's operational responsibilities. The museum moved a third time in 2006. It is now positioned near other structures as part of a historic park managed by the city's Museum Division.
The mission of the museum is to maintain and interpret "items from the early history of Camp Walton and education in the county covering the years 1911 to the 1930’s."1 The price of admission includes all four museums in the Heritage Park and Cultural Center, including the Schoolhouse Museum.