The Apalachicola Arsenal Museum is a historical treasure near the Georgia state line.
CHATTAHOOCHEE — Built on the bluffs overlooking the Apalachicola River and Lake Seminole, not far from the Georgia state line, Florida’s State Hospital is a treasure trove of Florida history.
One of the gems in that treasure trove is the Apalachicola Arsenal Museum, part of the hospital’s sprawling campus.
The Florida Channel recently featured the Apalachicola Arsenal Museum on the Florida Channel’s Historical Markers series.
Tied to the Arsenal Museum in many ways is Linda Kranert, museum coordinator and grants specialist with the Florida Department of Children and Families. Kranert arrived in Chattahoochee in 1992 when her husband took the position of general counsel at the hospital.
Kranert landed a job as a medical unit supervisor and during orientation visited what was then referred to as the “mattress factory,” one of the many uses for the building over the years.
Kranert fell in love with the dilapidated building, though it was slated for demolition. She soon started boning up on the building’s history.
Built as a powder magazine from 1832 to 1839, the building is one of three remaining buildings from the original complex.
The former officer’s quarters are now part of the hospital’s administrative buildings and the former carriage shop, where cannons were stored, is now a music therapy building.
Kranert was instrumental in finding funding to restore the former powder magazine.
“There’s too much history to just let go,” said Kranert, who convinced hospital administrators to seek grant funding to restore the old building.
The magazine was one of three buildings located just outside the original Apalachicola Arsenal, a federal armory built during the height of the Second Seminole War. The arsenal originally featured several buildings sheltered behind a 9-foot-high, 30-inch-thick perimeter wall that encircled the four-acre complex. The arsenal contained a five-story shot tower along with workshops, storage areas, barracks, officers’ quarters and other buildings within the wall; but two powder magazines and a settler’s store were built outside, according to historian Dale Cox.
The arsenal and its valuable stores of gunpowder, paper cartridges, muskets and cannon were commandeered by Florida militia troops just days before the state seceded from the Union in January 1861.
Three months later, Southern forces fired on Fort Sumter in South Carolina, starting the Civil War.
After the war, the powder magazine did service as a mattress factory, morgue and wooden coffin factory.
Though Kranert later moved to Orlando, she returned to Chattahoochee and picked up where she left off.
Officially a part-time employee, Kranert devotes countless volunteer hours to the museum, which serves as a community center, hosting monthly Lunch and Learn sessions, art exhibits and a collection of museum and hospital-related historical exhibits.
“I truly hate to see historic areas fall apart and history forgotten,” Kranert said. “I do what I do for the community because I like to see it become alive again and to bring joy to those who live here.”