(Last Updated On: November 28, 2022)
Outside of the museum building at Constitution Convention Museum State Park.

Outside of the museum building at Constitution Convention Museum State Park. Photo: Ebyabe, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Situated at the intersection of State Road 71 and U.S. Highway 98, Constitution Convention Museum State Park is the perfect place for history buffs to visit.

Set on 14-acres, it is notable for being the place where Florida’s first constitution was drafted.

While the town of St Joseph only lasted for nine years it was a successful boom town. Infact it was so successful it competed with Apalachicola as a trading port on the Gulf Coast.

During its brief existence, the city beat Tallahassee for the right to host Florida’s inaugural State Constitution Convention.

This event is documented in the museum that resides within the grounds of the state park. This museum is notable for its mock convention hall, where 56 territorial delegates started the process of drafting the first constitution.

Visitors to the park can take guided, or a self-guided tour, of its various exhibits and displays. Which include audio-animated, life-size mannequins of the main protagonists, that give you an authentic feel of what the drafting discussions involved.

Aside from the museum, this Florida state park offers beautiful grounds to stroll around, that provides terrific nature and wildlife watching opportunities. It is also a popular spot for geocachers to search for treasure too.

For those requiring overnight accommodation there is none onsite. But just a five minute drive away you will find a fantastic campground that has 100 sites for RVs and Trailers.

History

Although it only operated for nine years, St Joseph has an indelible place in history as the site of Florida’s first Constitutional Convention in 1838.

While Tallahassee was the territorial capital of the state at the time, St Joseph’s was selected over it. Thanks mainly to good promoters who took advantage of the ongoing disagreement between middle Floridians and East and West Floridians.

Middle Floridians, who were generally more affluent, were keen proponents of statehood. Their eastern and western foes were of the view that a state government was not sustainable financially. Therefore they wanted to stay as a territory.

After much discourse, a group of territorial delegates met in St Joseph’s. Between December 3rd 1838 and January 11th 1839 they worked to create the first draft of Florida’s constitution.

It wasn’t until 1845, after four more conventions took place at other locations that Florida joined the union. By that time, St. Joseph had proudly earned the distinction of being where Florida’s move to fully fledged statehood began.

Museum at Constitution Convention Museum State Park

As its name suggests, the main drawcard of the park is its museum.

A visit here is a must for history buffs as it provides a fascinating insight into what life was like in Florida as a territory and the process of how the constitution was drafted.

The museum features several displays of the town and that historic moment in time. It also has a mock convention hall replete with audio-animatronic, life size replications of the delegates who were involved in the process.

Park visitors can hear and see territorial governors like Robert Reid and William P. Duval, as well as Attorney Thomas L. Baltzell and senator David Y. Levy, framing and debating the finer details of Florida’s early constitution.

Tours at Constitution Convention Museum State Park

The onsite park ranger is regularly available to provide guests with museum tours.

These are popular though, so you would be well advised to contact the park well in advance of your visit to arrange for either a guided tour, or other interpretive programs.

If you would prefer to do a self-guided tour, there is one available that will showcase various exhibits and displays that convey what life was like in St Joseph’s in the late 1830s.

Nature & Wildlife

Touring the museum is not the only activity you can do when you visit the park. Its 14-acre grounds also provide you with a fabulous opportunity to check out the fabulous nature and wildlife contained within it.

The park features a myriad of stately trees including live oaks, southern magnolias and slash pines that are a joy to walk between.

These trees also provide a home to several bird species, including the mockingbird which is the state bird of Florida. You are also likely to see a number of red bellied woodpeckers and eastern grey squirrels.

The park also has a notable butterfly garden which captivates your attention once you start to count how many different species there are flitting about within it.

Geocaching at Constitution Convention Museum State Park

For those into geocaching, the park provides plenty of opportunities to search for treasures.

There are several caches located throughout its grounds, so be sure to have your GPS device with you to download the coordinates of where they are.

For more details check out the geocaching website for the latest clues and details about its caches.

Pets at Constitution Convention Museum State Park

Leashed dogs are welcome to join you at the park but must remain on its grounds. They are not allowed to enter any of the buildings.

Service dogs are an exception to this rule though.

Camping at Constitution Convention Museum State Park

There are no camping facilities available at the park, however just a five minute drive from it you will find the Port Saint Joe RV Resort.

This fabulous campground offers 110 sites that come with either 30-amp or 50-amp service. Some of them even have full hookups that have sewer connections too.

Popular with families and fishermen, this campground overlooks Cape San Blas. It also has a splendid marina and bay boat, as well as amenities like Cable TV with ESPN and Wi-Fi.

The modern campground does get busy, so reservations are highly recommended.

Park Location

Constitution Convention Museum State Park
2201 Centennial Drive
Port St Joe, FL 32456
Phone: 850.229.8029

Website

Map

Video

Here is a short YouTube video providing some history of the Constitution Convention Museum State Park: