Monday, July 23, 2012

The Little Frangista Beach Chapel

Once upon a time, Destin really was just a sleepy little fishing village.

About 3 miles after you crossed the Destin Bridge you'd be on an empty 2 lane stretch of road all the way to the bridge at Philip's Inlet.

It was a LONG ride to Panama City and you literally had to drive through the middle of nowhere to get there.

When I was a little girl, my great-grandmother lived in Tallahassee and on a regular basis my grandmother, mom and I would drive over to visit.

We always took Highway 98 instead of Interstate 10 because Hwy 98 had such an incredible view.

Imagine driving along Hwy 98 and being able to SEE the Gulf!

Back then, "way out there past Destin," were a few summer cottages and a motel in an area known as Frangista Beach.

There was also a pretty little chapel.

It never looked like anyone used it and I remember wondering about it every time we passed through there.

Fast forward almost 40 years and that area is more commonly called Miramar Beach and isn't "out past Destin" at all.

The old motel and cottages are gone now and it seems like every square inch of that land has been developed.

Except the lot the chapel sits on.

It seemed abandoned and whenever I'd see it I'd tell myself I was going to find out about it.

Which I never did.

The Island King came home one day about 10 years ago and said he'd driven past the chapel and stopped to take some pictures.

We still didn't know anything about it but life kept getting in the way of research and it remained a mystery.

Until I looked at the Destin Log the other day and right there on the front page was a picture of the chapel with an article.

Finally! Information about the little chapel.

The St. Nikolas by the Sea Chapel.

It was built in 1959 by John Nitsos, the first resident and man who named Frangista Beach, after his native town in Greece.

The chapel was to be "a sanctuary of prayerful reflection" but unfortunately John died before the first service was held.

The building was used for storage for a number of years but according to the article, John's granddaughter had the building restored and is hoping it will be added to the historic register.

Her hopes are to open the chapel to the public because "it was built to be used"

I hope she is able to accomplish her goal. Very little of the past is left here and what is should be preserved.

To read the complete story of the Frangista Chapel go here.
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