10 landmarks in women’s history across the Sunshine State

The Florida Women’s Heritage Trail has over 30 pages of significant places and “firsts” in women’s history.

You can find some of these great sites located in Central Florida by checking out this article here, but we also wanted to share some of our favorites from across the state. We’ve narrowed it down to ten for this article, but you can check out the full trail here.


The cottage belonged to Julee Panton, a “free woman of color” who worked to buy the freedom of her black compatriots. The chalet later belonged to a succession of free black women. The simple vernacular wooden building, built between 1804 and 1808 during the Second Spanish Period, is the only example of construction “to the curb” in Pensacola. Its pegged frame and beaded ceilings have been carefully preserved for its new role as a museum of black history.

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Cottage Julee (Copyright 2021 by WKMG ClickOrlando – All rights reserved.)


This park was once part of a 3,760-acre hunting estate owned by Alfred B. Maclay, a New York financier. He and his wife designed ornamental gardens for the property, including a Camellia promenade, walled garden, and secret garden. After her husband’s death in 1944, Louise Maclay (1885-1973) opened her 28-acre ornamental garden to the public and in 1953 donated 307 acres to the state. Today, nearly 100 varieties of camellias and 50 varieties of azaleas bloom from December to April.


Cross Creek, the home of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings (1896-1953), is where the world famous author wrote his most popular books, The 1 year and Cross the stream. Rawlings came to Cross Creek at the age of 32 and was inspired for her books from the land and the Florida Cracker community. In 1939, she received the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for The 1 year, the story of a 12 year old boy and his pet deer who lived in the undergrowth of Florida. With its raised floor and sloping roof, the Rawlings House is a fine example of “Cracker Architecture” and is well suited to the warm Florida climate. Rawlings House is open to the public and tours are available. Many books, drafts, letters and photographs by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings are included in a collection not far from Cross Creek at the Smathers Library East on the University of Florida campus in Gainesville.

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The Eartha MM White Mission Museum is a memorial to the humanitarian activities of Clara English White (1845-1920), a former slave, and her adopted daughter, Eartha Mary Magdalene White (1876-1974). Clara White was a pioneer member of Bethel Baptist Church. Her influence continued to be felt throughout the community as she devoted her life to helping those less fortunate. The vernacular masonry building was designed by famous architect Henry John Klutho to serve as a symbol of hope for the needy. Her daughter, Eartha Mary Magdalene White, was also a humanitarian, educator and editor. Thanks to his efforts, a prison mission was formed. She founded the Eartha MM White Nursing Home, specializing in the care of the needy, and created a retirement home for African Americans. White donated land for the city’s first park for African American children and has been honored twice at White House receptions. White has served as a lobbyist for African Americans with the Jacksonville City Commission and the Florida Legislature.

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A stained glass window in this spectacular Gothic Revival church commemorates Mary Martha Reid (1812-1894), often referred to as the “Florence Nightingale of the Confederacy”. She was married to Robert Raymond Reid, a federal judge appointed territorial governor of Florida. After his death in 1841, Reid came to Fernandina Beach and taught. At the start of the Civil War, one of his sons enlisted in the Confederate Army. As a result, she soon realized that there was a great need for medical attention for Confederate soldiers in Florida near battle sites. Reid was instrumental in establishing a 150-bed hospital on the outskirts of Richmond, Virginia in 1862, where more than 1,000 soldiers were treated. She fled Richmond when it fell to Federal troops on April 2, 1865. Reid then returned to Fernandina Beach, opened a school. and resumed his teaching. She is buried in the church cemetery.

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In 1860, upon the death of her husband, Maria de Los Dolores Mestre Andreu (1801-1871) became one of the first female lighthouse keepers in the country. The St. Augustine Lighthouse was one of the first official Florida lighthouses authorized by Congress and was built in 1824 on Anastasia Island. The current 165-foot tower dates from 1874 and is the state’s only spiral lighthouse. It also contains its original first-rate fresnel lens.


The history of the Cuban community of Ybor City is told at the Ybor City State Museum. The museum complex covers about half of a city block. It includes a pleasure garden, three restored cigar workers’ houses and a bakery building. The Ferlita bakery building, with its ovens, colorful signs and exhibitions, forms the heart of the museum complex. The home of a cigar worker. La Casita, is a museum. Luisa Capetillo (1879-1922) was an activist for workers’ and women’s rights. She was also an experienced union organizer. Local cigar workers elected Luisa to the important post of reader. Selected and paid by the workers, she read to them while the cigars were hand-rolled.

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SAFFORD HOUSE, Tarpon Springs

Dr. Mary Jane Safford (1832-1891) was a Civil War nurse who later became the first female medical practitioner in Florida. Built in 1881, Safford House is the oldest known residence in Tarpon Springs. It is a fine example of Florida vernacular architecture, and was built by his brother, Anson PK Safford, founder of Tarpon Springs


The Ziff Museum explores the ways Florida Jews influenced the history of the state. Its collections and exhibits include information on many important Jewish women, including Annie Ackerman and Rose Jeremiah Weiss. Annie Ackerman (1914-1989) was an advocate for the elderly. Ackerman was known as the “Queen of the Condo,” traveling from condo to condo working with older residents to develop voting blocks. Through his efforts, Dade County leaders have heard the needs of the elderly. Between 1969 and his death in 1989, Ackerman worked tirelessly for the rights of the elderly. When Rose Jeremiah Weiss (1886-1974) arrived in 1919, Miami Beach was a sparsely populated sandbar, accessible only by boat. The region has become his home and its inhabitants his family. Weiss earned her nickname “Mother of Miami Beach” due to her persistent efforts to organize social services for the needy. Following the devastating hurricane of 1926, she became an official representative of the Red Cross and raised money for relief funds. During World War II, she sold $ 1 million in war bonds, more than any other woman in Florida. Active in local politics, she attended all city council meetings between 1921 and 1959.

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Formerly known as the South Florida Historical Museum, the HistoryMiami Museum collects and displays material on the history of South Florida. The permanent exhibition is a photograph of Julia DeForest Sturtevant Tuttle (1848-1898), the “Mother of Miami”. The museum’s archives contain information about the founding of Miami and Tuttle’s role in it. Julia’s Daughters: Women In Dade’s History tells the story of Julia Tuttle and other women who helped develop Miami and Dade County.

The HistoryMiami Museum at the Miami-Dade Cultural Center was known as the South Florida Historical Museum when it was featured in the 1998 film “There’s Something About Mary.”

Copyright 2021 by WKMG ClickOrlando – All rights reserved.

Edward K. Thompson