Restoration photos of the Orman Building at 55 Market Street:
Thomas Orman (1799-1880) was an ambitious entrepreneur and a significant member of the Apalachicola mercantile community. Thomas Orman’s home, located a short distance away, is open to the public as a museum. Please visit the Orman House State Park for a fascinating look into this period of history.
In his lifetime, Orman held title to over 39,000 acres in Franklin County. Of the cotton warehouses located on Water Street, fourteen belonged to Orman.
About the Orman Building at 55 Market Street:
Orman acquired the property on which the current building stands in 1856. This site was the original location of the two-story wooden Central Hotel that burned in the devastating fire of 1900. The existing building was constructed of brick in 1901 by Thomas Orman’s granddaughter Sadie and her first husband John Fenimore Cooper Griggs. It was through the doors of the Orman Building that the family supplied goods up the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint river systems into Alabama and Georgia.
Descendants sold the building in 1978, ending years of continuous family ownership. Repurposed many times over the years, it previously boasted the switchboard of the first Apalachicola Telephone Company. Upstairs office space was leased. History revealed signs painted on the brick advertising early automobile sales; residents also patronized a beauty salon, laundromat and shoe repair shop. From 1936-1963, the Orman Building was the home of Gordon’s Department Store, a staple of Apalachicola’s downtown.
In 1999, in consultation with the Florida Bureau of Historic Preservation, the Florida Archives, and examination of local period structures, a restoration plan was begun by owners Lowell and Jan Thomas. The basic structure of 18 inch hand fired brick walls and lime putty mortar (oyster shell and sand) was in satisfactory condition; characteristic of this period are bricks of varying color, depending on how close each lay to the kiln fire. All salvageable heart pine joists and floors were reused; all first floor exterior doors are constructed of original floor joists. Exterior stucco circa 1930 was repaired and repainted, and a brick patio and street sidewalks were added.
The Orman Building continues its long history as a significant downtown commercial structure.
Special thanks to Jan Thomas, Michael Kinnett, and Mark Curenton.
The Orman Building
55 Market Street
Apalachicola, FL 32320 United States