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Franklin County town features world’s smallest police station

Published: Apr. 29, 2021 at 9:45 PM CDT
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CARRABELLE, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - One small town on Florida’s Forgotten Coast has an unforgettable landmark. And you may not want to drive too fast on Highway 98 when going through Carrabelle or you may miss it.

“It’s extremely popular,” said Carrabelle Mayor Brenda La Paz. “The people love to come and take pictures and pose [with it]. It’s a novelty.”

It’s a phone booth on the side of the road near the town’s post office.

“[The] world’s smallest police station came about actually in 1960, whenever the actual police station was a phone bolted to a building on the corner, just one block east of here,” said La Paz.

That’s right, the town is home to what they claim is the world’s smallest police station.

“That phone was on a little platform bolted there, and the officers had to answer and take calls and give calls in the rain,” said La Paz.

The “there” was on the side of a building on the northeast corner of Highway 98 and Tallahassee Street. It was a former Rexall drug store. And the town’s only policeman at the time placed and took calls from the phone.

“And through that time, it had an actual rotary-style dial phone and to stop people from making long-distance calls, they removed the rotary dial,” said La Paz.

That’s right, the public took advantage of the often unsupervised phone.

“Yes, and make their long-distance phone calls or local calls if they needed to make. Unauthorized,” said a laughing La Paz.

A man named Johnnie Mirabella with the St. Joe Telephone Company noticed the town’s policeman was getting drenched while on the phone when it was raining, so he put it in an old phone booth that was being replaced with a new one at the drug store.

“And then by 1963, Mr. Johnnie Mirabella along with Deputy Sheriff Curly Messer moved the phone booth with the phone in it to this location here on Highway 98 across the street from our Carrabelle Chamber [of Commerce],” said La Paz

But it’s not the original phone booth. It’s a replica.

“The original phone booth is actually at our Carrabelle History Museum, just around the corner on Southeast Avenue B,” said La Paz.

And if it could talk I’m sure it has a story to tell.

“It’s taken a lot of hard knocks over the years; a little bit of vandalism, it’s been shot at, it’s been run over by a pickup truck,“ said La Paz. “Hurricane Kate turned it over one time, and then one time a fellow decided he wanted to take it as a souvenir back to Tennessee and he was trying to load it up in his truck and that didn’t work out so well for him,” said a smiling La Paz.

The police station also made the rounds on TV.

“[It’s appeared on] Ripley’s Believe It or Not. It’s been on the Today Show, with Jane Pauley and Mr. Brokaw, Tom Brokaw. It’s been on the Johnny Carson show,” said La Paz.

There’s no question the minuscule police station helped put the sleepy coastal town of Carrabelle on the map.

“It does [put us on the map] and it’s a historical spot,” said La Paz. “And so it just, you know, takes us back to our younger years, the 50s and the 60s, and just reminds us of an older, quieter time.”

And speaking of quiet, no one stopped by to see the police station while we were there. Mayor La Paz says that’s unusual.

“Generally when I drive by there’s always someone here. I’m surprised there’s no one here now. It’s lunchtime, maybe that’s why,” said a chuckling La Paz.

I guess when hunger calls the stomach has to pick up.

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