Agnes Hall, born in 1895


     At age 95, Agnes lived in the house built by her grandmother, Martha Condon, shortly after the Civil War.  The area was first known as Harris, and later it became known as Florosa, Florida.  The home was built by hand using driftwood and wood salvaged from ships that ran aground in the Santa Rosa Sound and the Gulf of Mexico.  Agnes was the matriarch of a five generation Florosa family.  Before U.S. Highway 98 was built, most traffic in the area west of Hurlbert Field was by boat.  In those days folks didn’t go the Crestview and back in one day, either!    Sail powered boats and later steamboats brought in most of the goods families needed in those days.

     Agnes tells an intriguing story about what happened while she was managing the Florosa Inn during the 1930s.  She suspected that a man who seemed to be in charge of a group of men from Chicago had plans for a wild party when he asked for the entire second floor of the inn.

Agnes Hall  “I told him that I wasn’t going to have any roughhousing or drinking here,” she told the man.  “I told him if he was going to do that, he could just go back to Fort Walton where he came from.”  Agnes said that even though Prohibition wasn’t repealed until 1932 people could still find liquor to drink.

     She says that the man seemed to understand.  He and his friends stayed overnight and left the next day.  She figured he got the message.  Later, she was surprised when she overheard a waiter talking about the man.  “I knew who Al Capone was but I didn’t know that was him (at the inn) at the time!”

     Agnes’ niece said that the brush with this notorious gangster was uneventful. Agnes didn’t know why he chose that inn, “The hotel was vacant.  When I found out who he was, I thought I was crazy for talking to somebody like him the way I did.”

     This encounter with Capone probably happened before 1931 because he was convicted of income tax invasion sometime that year.  For years since, there was been much speculation about Capone having a ‘hide out’ in the area.

     Baker Block Museum Educational Services. 2008. Baker, Florida