A piece of Destin's history has moved down the road and may be kept alive in Sandestin.
After reading articles about the sale of St. John's Greek Orthodox Church in The Log, Tom Becnel, a local developer and the owner of Sandestin, contacted Mike Buckingham who had purchased the church.
"Mike donated the pews to be used in a chapel I was planning for Sandestin," Becnel told The Log. "He is also willing to donate other artifacts he will have no use for, such as the Bishop's Chair and the sconces, once building begins on the chapel."
Becnel had chosen a site on Sandestin Boulevard on the bayside of the property, which was not in use, and requested from the Sandestin Homeowner's Association permission to build on it.
"They declined," he said. "They preferred to leave it in its natural state. I was somewhat disappointed."
When asked for comment, the SOA provided The Log with a letter from Ken Lloyd, SOA Board president, to Becnel.
“We are supportive of a nondenominational gathering group in Sandestin. However, at this time after careful study by a special subcommittee and by action of the Board of Directors, we believe it is in the best interest of the community to retain the property on Sandestin Boulevard North and not allow it to be transferred from the SOA’s ownership,” the letter states in part.
Becnel said he will continue to work on finding a site, believing that since Sandestin is a family resort area it needs a chapel.
"Many would like to have one for weddings, baptisms, family gatherings, and even so older couples could renew their vows there," he said. "And The Gathering, now meeting at the Linkside Conference Center in the Sandestin Resort would be welcome."
The old Destin church at 303 U.S. Highway 98, built by Maltezo's daughters and other family members as a family chapel, was dedicated in 1984 to John George Maltezo, Destin pioneer and shipbuilder.
Many in Destin, especially the Marlers and Maltezos, family members of the original builders, have vivid memories of the times they spent at St. John's for weddings, baptisms, funerals and the annual cross dive. The pews contain nameplates and are dedicated to family members.
After the location for the new chapel is found, the pews will be refurbished and installed — giving these relics a new life and creating new memories for generations to come.
"All the people who loved the old Destin church are welcome to come and visit them," Becnel said.