CRESTVIEW — We know that Crestview is home to the 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne), that it can take a good bit of time to make it from one end to the other and that the Crestview High School Bulldogs tear it up on the football field and basketball court.
Here are 10 things you might not know about the city that has been the county seat for just over 100 years. The list was compiled with a lot of help from the Baker Block Museum staff.
1. Crestview High School’s first mascot was the “Red Jackets.” During one of the earliest recorded football games in 1930, the Red Jackets played Milton to a tie in a scoreless game. By 1938, when the school’s first band was formed, Crestview was known as the Bulldogs.
2. Crestview became the county seat of Okaloosa County in an election held April 3, 1917, beating out Baker by just 85 votes with a total of 1,389 votes cast.
3. Crestview’s oldest business that is still operating is Mack Brooks Barber Shop on Main Street, which originally opened in 1917 in the same location as Keel’s Barber Shop, which was owned by James Henry Keel.
4. Crestview was home to the first factory in Okaloosa County — and the first industry to offer employment to women. The Smith-Johnson Garment Factory, later known as Alatex opened in September 1937 and was referred to as Crestview’s new city hall since government offices occupied one corner of the ground floor. The building now houses the Florida A&M University College of Pharmacy.
5. Crestview was at times declared “off limits” to airmen from Eglin Field during the late 1940s and into the 1950s due to numerous liquor and gambling establishments, which were perceived to take advantage of the young airmen.
6. The Fox Theater and the Eglin Theater, both located on Crestview’s Main Street, hosted a premiere showing of “Twelve O’Clock High” in 1949. Movie star Gregory Peck was in town for the premiere of the movie about a World War II bomber unit. The 20th Century Fox movie was filmed at Duke Field, Eglin Field and north of Crestview.
7. In the 1920s, Moses A. Sapp domesticated the wild blueberry, turning it into a profitable commercial crop at Crestview. Many acres of blueberries were transplanted and cultivated in the Crestview area. The 1929 harvest yielded 15 train boxcars that went to northern markets.
8. Crestview boasted the first hospital in Okaloosa County — and the only one between Marianna and Pensacola — when Dr. Olin Enzor and his brother, Dr. Jut Enzor, built the Enzor Brothers Hospital in 1926 on Highway 90 West.
9. In 1929, Crestview’s first airfield was located on Highway 85 South at the former site of Savage Turpentine Still, the current site of Beall’s Outlet and Day’s Tires.
10. Crestview was home to a Rosenwald School for black students in 1926 on Ratcliff Street. Julius Rosenwald, a Jewish man who was part owner and President of Sears Roebuck & Company, partnered with Booker T. Washington to build many of the schools across the south during the early 20th century.
Ann Span is the director of the Baker Block Museum.