Thanks to an IMPACT 100 Grant, Pensacola’s largest historic cemetery is now an outdoor museum too

While still fulfilling its mission as a cemetery, St. John’s Cemetery–thanks to an IMPACT 100 grant–has transformed its grounds into an outdoor museum and learning facility in the hopes of introducing locals and visitors to the city’s illustrious forebears and history.

St. John’s Cemetery, located at 301 N. G St., recently installed a new informational sign providing important facts and historical context for visitors to discover as they tour the grounds. The double-sided, 3-foot-by-7.5-foot interpretive sign illuminates the cemetery’s rich heritage and history, emphasizes points and people of interest throughout its grounds, and includes pictures and symbol meanings.

In addition to the new informational sign – a State of Florida historical marker was installed, 21 points-of-interest markers were placed throughout the cemetery, six benches were installed and the cemetery’s gatehouse underwent a complete remodel. A real-time, interactive cemetery tour video was also created for visitors to watch while visiting the grounds.

“We are excited to be able to help celebrate the lives and careers of the cemetery’s original founders and other notable and notorious citizens that rest within its hallowed grounds,” said Jim Speed with Friends of St. John’s Cemetery Foundation. “Now visitors can learn about the many historic leaders that have made Pensacola into the wonderful city that it is today.”

Nearly 150 years ago, St. John’s Cemetery was organized and founded by a group of businessmen and civic-minded leaders to fulfill the community’s need for a cemetery to augment and eventually replace St. Michael’s Cemetery. Established in 1876 by the Freemasons of Escambia Lodge, No. 15, F.&A.M, St. John’s became Pensacola’s second public cemetery and was established to meet the changing demographics of the area. Originally on the edge of town, the 26 acres of St. John’s served as Pensacola’s primary burial site for 100 years.

Today, St. John’s Cemetery is still an active cemetery and features the largest and most diverse number of gravestones and monuments in Northwest Florida. The cemetery is open to the public during hours of daylight.