Business owners appreciate the past. Visitors and residents can see that kind of thinking all over Marianna, which has a population of about 7,000 people and is the county seat for historic Jackson County. The city, located in the center of the county, blends modern day functionality with the history and nature that surrounds it.
Founded in 1827 by Robert Beveridge, the city began taking shape in September of that year, after the founder laid out the town on one of the three 80-acre tracts of land he had purchased. The town grew around present day Caledonia Street, but it began to flourish when two banks came to the city. One, the Bank of West Florida, was housed in a building across the town square, where it became the first building in Florida to be used specifically for banking.
Two major mercantile businesses established roots in Marianna, and Jackson County’s well-known citizens moved to the city. Many of those early settlers’ descendants still call Marianna home. They have stayed because of the city’s combination of natural beauty, history and modern day amenities. “You get to live in a rural, real Florida atmosphere with big city things about an hour away,” a historian and resident said.
The town’s history is easy to see around the streets and neighborhoods of Marianna, especially while driving past the historic Russ House, on Lafayette Street (Highway 90). Built by prominent landowner Joseph W. Russ Jr. in 1895, the Russ House underwent restoration in 1995, and in 2000 it became the home for the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce and the Jackson County Tourist Development Council. Nearby, at the county courthouse, a historic marker commemorates the Battle of Marianna, which lasted less than an hour, but had a major impact on the development of the state.
The city’s natural beauty also makes the area an enjoyable place to live or visit. Ask any resident and the answer for what sets Marianna apart from other towns in Florida will be the same.
“I think that’s an easy thing—we have great natural resources and great people,” Marianna’s mayor said.
Surrounding Marianna are some of the most pristine natural wonders in Florida. The Chipola River, a spring-fed tributary of the Apalachicola River, is one of the clearest rivers in the state. Many old-time residents report knowing all the swimming spots along the river while they grew up in and around the city. Also, Blue Springs is located near the city limits. The spring, which is a constant 69 degrees year-round, is a favorite place for children and cave divers. Merritt’s Mill Pond has become a popular fishing spot with largemouth bass and redear sunfish, an anglers' most sought after catch.
Between the natural views and the reminders of history are shops like the Riverfront Restaurant. It features steaks, seafood and subs, along with a one-of-a-kind view of the millpond. These places are proud to to be a part of the community, as Marianna appreciates the heritage that infuses the area. Modern conveniences blend with old Florida history and nature to set Marianna apart