The city of Pensacola, its beaches and historic district is featured in my book Southern Fried & Sanctified. Postage-free, signed copies available via the author website, click on title of the book to order and view the book’s photo gallery. All text and photographs copyrighted.
St. Michael’s Cemetery is an eight-acre green space in the heart of urban, historic Pensacola, Florida. Probably in use by the mid to late 18th century, the land was officially designated a cemetery by the King of Spain in 1807. Although initially assigned to the Catholic inhabitants of Pensacola, people of all faiths have traditionally been buried here. The cemetery is an open air museum that is a testament to the diverse history of Pensacola.
It is one of the two oldest extant cemeteries in the state of Florida (the other being Tolomato Cemetery in St. Augustine) and reflects the social history of the community it is associated with. The cemetery is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
St. Michael’s Cemetery is an eight-acre green space in the heart of urban, historic Pensacola, Florida. Probably in use during the late 18th century, the land was officially designated a cemetery by the King of Spain in 1807. Although assigned to the Catholic inhabitants of Pensacola, people of all faiths have traditionally been buried here. The cemetery is an open air museum that is a testament to the diverse history of Pensacola.
Pensacola drew immigrants from around the world, people who came to West Florida to make their fortunes or seek adventure. The cemetery is the resting place of Captains of Industry, victims of Yellow Fever epidemics and steam ship explosions, along with those who died in child birth, as infants, and of old age.
Tombstones in the cemetery reflect not only status and ethnicity of individuals but also reflect society as a whole on the Florida Gulf Coast frontier. There is a strong sense of place and identity in the cemetery; a feeling of community.
As is often the case in older cemeteries, St. Michael’s has declined over the past 200 years. Vandalism, neglect, hurricanes, and natural aging have all contributed to a physical decline of the cemetery. Recognizing not only the historical importance of the site but its potential as an open air museum in the urban environment, residents of Pensacola are supporting a major restoration project at the cemetery.
Geographers from the University of West Florida have surveyed the cemetery using a total station (a precision survey instrument) and survey grade GPS. A GIS of the cemetery has been constructed consisting of all graves, tombs, roads, botanical data and other features within the cemetery. This GIS is available as an interactive map at the above link. Simply click on any grave in the map for more information. You can also query the database behind the map to search for information about people buried in the cemetery. During 2007 GPR (Ground Penetrating Radar) data will be added to the interactive maps that will help reveal information about the location of the “Hidden Peoples of St. Michael’s Cemetery.”