The History of St. Andrews Parks & Recreation
Baseball was the main sport in Bay Counts's early days. Town teams were organized at Millville, Panama City, Lynn Haven, and St. Andrews. The teams were fierce rivals. St. Andrews, in fact, had two teams: one representing the town and another from West Bay. A stadium was constructed in 1911 between Frankfort Avenue and Fifteenth Street. Transportation between towns was by boat. The old ballpark property was purchased by T.T. Harrison in 1926, and turned into home lots. Today, this property contains a Scottish Rite Masonic Temple.
In 1907, a large casino was constructed by Col. Carl C. Gideon over the bayou near the present Shrimp Boat restaurant location. This was the scene of most civic meetings in St. Andrews. It became the entertainment center, too. Movies were shown weekly by C.H. Kelly, and later by William Atkinson. Other activities included rollerskating and dances, with much provided by the Phil West Trio. This popular band featured local musicians Gaynor Thompson, Earl Thompson, A.J. Reed, and Proctor Van Horn. The building was purchased by Whit Whitfield in 1926, and burned shortly afterward.
Oakland Terrace Park was created in St.
Andrews in the 1920's on thirty-six acres purchased by the city of Panama City. Over the years, park facilities have grown to include playground, tennis courts, ballfields, and civic center. The area today is a hub of civic activbity. The Men's Club meets in the civic center, and adjacent building house the Youth and Senior Citizen Services, the Junior Deputies, the Girls's Club, Oakland Terrace Elementary School, and the Senior Citizen Center.
Some other St. Andrews' parks include Hentz Park on 19th Street, donated by John Hentz, Carl Gray Park on the bay near Gulf Coast Community College, and Frank Nelson Park on 23rd Street near Allen's Seafood Restaurant. The most recent park to be established is Oaks By the Sea Park, adjacent to Ramada Inn. It includes a boardwalk along the marina.
The western section of early St. Andrews -- along present-day Highway 98 to Beck Avenue-was known as West End. It was separated from by a natural boundary, namely the inlet adjacent to the Shrimp Boat restaurant site. Early on, a boardwalk was constructed that connected the two sections with Old Town.
Transportation to and from the area, however, was mainly by boat. By 1900 there was already a wharf jutting into the bay at the foot of Michigan Avenue. It was build by G.E. Bracken, who also owned a grocery store at this site.