Orman House Historic State Park is home the antebellum mansion of Thomas Orman. This opulent structure overlooks the Apalachicola River and features detailed wooden mantle pieces, ornate molded plaster cornices and gorgeous heart-pine flooring, all built in the Greek revival style of the mid 19th century. Of the few remaining antebellum homes in the state, this is certainly one of the best preserved.
Thomas Orman was a cotton merchant in Apalachicola during 1840’s to 1870’s. His business helped build the tiny town from a small fishing village into one of the largest and most important cotton exporting ports of its time. His home served the community by hosting important business meetings and fun filled social events.
Many important Florida figures traveled through the doors of his amazing home. Dr. Alvin W. Chapman became a master botanist and penned the great works of “Flora of the Southeastern United States” a work still widely regarded as an important historical reference to the plants in the region. Dr. John Gorrie also visited the Orman house. He invented the first ice machine and is known as the father of refrigeration. His works led to the precursor for the modern day air conditioning unit.
Tours of the home start each hour and cost $2 per person. Period pieces of furniture make the mansion seem alive. The living room contains a grand piano, an 1830 empire style sofa and a Chinese hand woven rug. The most amazing poster bed complete with canopy sits in one of the bedrooms as if waiting for the Ormans to return and lie down to sleep.
In 1892, Sarah, the daughter of Thomas Orman, married Judge John Fenimore Cooper Griggs. After Sarah’s grandmother died, they moved into the Orman house in 1896. The judge, not wanting to interfere with the guests of the house, built a small chamber and office for work. This room became known as the judge’s chamber. It is filled with many of his possessions and furniture from his days as Florida’s first port captain and Florida customs agent.
Orman House Historic State Park isn’t just about the house. Across the street is the Chapman Botanical Garden. It was built to honor the late botanist and his many works dealing with Florida’s diverse plant life. It contains gorgeous flowers and plants unique to the area. A butterfly garden was added in the early 1990’s.
For more information on directions to the park, fees and hours of operations, visit the Orman House Historic State Park website here.