Turning back the pages in Panama City history

Turning back the pages in Panama City history
Published: Oct. 13, 2022 at 10:57 PM CDT
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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - They say home is where the heart is. At the heart of Panama City, is its history.

The Panama City Publishing Company serves as a small window into the past on Beck Ave. in St. Andrews. Opened in 1920 by George West and his wife Lillian, the small building served the community for over 85 years. George is credited as the founding father of Panama City, developing the area from a small fishing town into an established city. West’s great-great Grandson, Buddy, inherited the building before selling it to the city of Panama City in 2005; the West’s family legacy was preserved by turning the building into a museum.

“It is so important that we pass this information and share it with anyone that is a resident of Panama City and the visitors that also find this incredibly interesting,” Nancy Hudson, a volunteer and chair of the museum committee, said. “Think about being in this building. There are 24 windows, strategically put in here just so they could open windows and have some air. 16,18, 20, employees in here at one time. It was probably an amazing beehive.”

Preserving the museum allows volunteers like Nancy to catch a glimpse of life in that era.

“I can’t imagine the sounds, the heat, the buzzing around, the people tapping to set the type,” said Hudson.

The building encompasses a feeling of curiosity that draws in tourists and locals alike. A team of volunteers helps to maintain the period-correct equipment and demonstrate its use to visitors.

“It’s one thing to look it up on Google, and it’s another whole thing to walk through the door and be able to touch things and see how it was back then,” said Lisa Barnes-Tapscott, from the St. Andrews Historic Society. “The volunteers are just; they just drag you in and they’re so excited about what they do and the printing that they do and the other activities that we do at the museum.”

You’ll leave here saying to yourself: Oh, how the times have changed.