For Immediate Release
Wednesday, November 17, 2021
Contact: Mark Ard
Secretary Lee Announces the Designation of the Panama City Publishing Company Building in the National Register of Historic Places
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. –
Secretary of State Laurel M. Lee announced today that the Panama City Publishing Company Building in Panama City, Bay County, has been listed in the National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places.
“I am pleased to announce that the Panama City Publishing Company Building has been listed in the National Register of Historic Places,” said Secretary of State Laurel M. Lee. “This building is significant for its role in the history of newspaper publishing in St. Andrews and Panama City and for the actions of newspaper editors George and Lillian West in promoting the urban, economic, and political development of their city.”
When it was constructed in 1920, the Panama City Publishing Company Building was the first brick building in St. Andrews, a historic community in Bay County that pre-dates Panama City. It housed three major local publications: the St. Andrews Bay News, the Panama City Pilot, and the Lynn Haven Free Press. The building is significant for its association with George Mortimer West, founder of Panama City, and his wife Lillian Carlisle West. George West founded the Panama City Pilot in 1906, as part of a larger effort to promote the development of Panama City, with which he also gained a reputation for investigative journalism. In 1916, George West acquired the St. Andrews Bay News and moved all his newspaper operations to St. Andrews. Lillian West took over unofficially as editor in 1917, assuming sole proprietorship and the official title of editor after the death of George West in 1925. Her role as owner and editor of a general circulating newspaper was highly unusual for the time.
Under the editorship of the Wests, the newspapers gained a reputation for supporting women’s suffrage, prohibition, and business regulation. They were in favor of honesty and integrity in government and opposed the Ku Klux Klan. Lillian West continued operating the three newspapers until 1937, when she was bought out by Charles White. The new owner merged the St. Andrews Bay News with the Panama City Herald to form the Panama City News-Herald, which is still in operation today. Afterwards, Lillian West focused exclusively on commercial contract printing. This business remained in operation until 2005, when Buddy West sold the building to Panama City to be repurposed into a museum, which opened in 2008.
Damaged by Hurricane Michael in 2018, the museum completed repairs and reopened in 2020. This included the replacement of damaged floors with wood salvaged from a historic factory building in Chicago. The Panama City Publishing Museum is located in the historic St. Andrews neighborhood and open six days a week. For more information, please visit https://historicstandrews.com/PublishingMuseum.
About The National Register of Historic Places
The National Register of Historic Places is a list maintained by the National Park Service which includes historical or archaeological properties including buildings, structures, sites, objects, and districts, that are considered worthy of preservation because of their local, statewide and/or national significance. Nominations for properties in Florida are submitted to the National Park Service through the Florida Department of State’s Division of Historical Resources. Florida has over 1,700 listings on the National Register, including 295 historic districts and 175 archaeological sites. There are more than 50,000 sites contributing to the National Register in Florida. For more information, visit flheritage.com/preservation/national-register. For more information about the National Register of Historic Places program administered by the National Park Service, visit nps.gov/nr.
About The Florida Department of State’s Bureau of Historic Preservation
The Bureau of Historic Preservation (BHP) conducts historic preservation programs aimed at identifying, evaluating, preserving and interpreting the historic and cultural resources of the state. The Bureau manages the Florida Main Street Program, and under federal and state laws, oversees the National Register of Historic Places program for Florida, maintains an inventory of the state's historical resources in the Florida Master Site File, assists applicants in federal tax benefit and local government ad valorem tax relief programs for historic buildings, and reviews the impact that development projects may have on significant historic resources. For more information, visit flheritage.com/preservation.