DeFuniak Springs Florida, is in the northwest part of the state. It is located at the intersection of US-331 and US-90 just north of I-10, about 60 miles east of Pensacola.
This little village at Lake DeFuniak started life as a small way station on the Pensacola & Atlantic Railroad.
It was named after Col. Frederick DeFuniak, an executive of the Louisville-Nashville Railroad.
DeFuniak was a hard-working Italian immigrant who had been an officer in the army of Giuseppe Garibaldi, the George Washington of modern Italy. The Colonel allegedly won the right to name the town in a card game.
Descendants of Colonel DeFuniak still live in north Florida and Alabama.
Members of a Methodist educational movement called the Chautauqua Assembly, headquartered in New York, further developed the small hamlet. It soon became their favorite winter retreat, growing in importance and beauty.
Seemingly frozen in 19th century amber, DeFuniak Springs is one of the prettiest of Florida towns. Numerous Victorian era homes encircle little Lake DeFuniak, and it's at times difficult to tell the old homes from the new ones built in the same Colonial Revival and Queen Anne styles.
The town has around 200 historic buildings surrounding the lake, 40 or so which are listed in the National Register of Historic Places. With a population of about 8,000 people, DeFuniak Springs might just have the most historic sites per capita of any town in Florida.
One of the many interesting old buildings is St. Agatha's Episcopal Church. It is a Carpenter Gothic church in the town historic district at 144 Circle Drive. The church was built in 1896.
Because of the old homes and Walton County's oaks and hilly terrain, DeFuniak Springs sometimes feels more like rural New England than rural Florida.
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