Town of Shalimar
Shalimar Town Hall, September 2014.
by the beautiful water
Location of Florida in the United States
|• Mayor||Gary Combs|
|• Total||0.29 sq mi (0.74 km2)|
|• Land||0.29 sq mi (0.74 km2)|
|• Water||0.00 sq mi (0.00 km2)|
|Elevation||13 ft (4 m)|
| • Estimate |
|• Density||2,804.88/sq mi (1,081.76/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC-5 (CST)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC-4 (CDT)|
Shalimar is located at (30.444398, -86.581904).
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 0.3 square miles (0.78 km2), all land.
|U.S. Decennial Census|
As of the census of 2000, there were 718 people, 288 households, and 209 families residing in the town. The population density was 2,441.6 inhabitants per square mile (955.9/km²). There were 311 housing units at an average density of 1,057.6 per square mile (414.1/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 89.42% White, 5.85% African American, 0.42% Native American, 2.51% Asian, 0.84% from other races, and 0.97% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.81% of the population.
There were 288 households out of which 31.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 64.6% were married couples living together, 5.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 27.1% were non-families. 21.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.49 and the average family size was 2.94.
In the town, the population was spread out with 24.9% under the age of 18, 4.9% from 18 to 24, 30.8% from 25 to 44, 28.4% from 45 to 64, and 11.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41 years. For every 100 females, there were 93.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 94.6 males.
The median income for a household in the town was $63,068, and the median income for a family was $70,250. Males had a median income of $51,250 versus $27,143 for females. The per capita income for the town was $29,261. About 2.9% of families and 3.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 3.8% of those under age 18 and 3.3% of those age 65 or over.
During the Civil War [sic- First World War], 130 Germans operated a "dye" plant at Port Dixie, "actually an explosives factory and probably a submarine base as well." Costly machinery was smashed when they fled and the records were thrown into Garnier's Bayou.
"In February 1927 the Choctawhatchee and Northern Railroad was chartered 'To construct, acquire, maintain, lease, or operate a line of railroad or railroads from a point between Galliver and Crestview on the Louisville and Nashville Railroad in Okaloosa County, to a point in said county on Choctawhatchee Bay, a distance of approximately twenty-eight miles.' On Garnier's Bayou near the present Eglin (Air Force Base) housing development of Shalimar, a $29,000,000 Port Dixie Harbor and Terminal Company was chartered to build wharves for liners, a rail line north, and a city of one square mile, with streets 100 feet wide." These ambitious plans would not see fruition.
Badly needed new homes were constructed beginning in 1942 by Clifford Meigs and his associates to provide adequate facilities for commissioned officers assigned at the rapidly expanding Eglin Field, immediately north of what was initially referred to as "Shalimar Park". This land was acquired from James E. Plew. The first 50 homes were almost complete by May, with another 25 underway, with the entire project costing approximately $350,000. The Plew Heights housing project near Valparaiso, Florida had been erected in 1941 to take care of civil service employees and enlisted personnel, but the government made no provision for commissioned officers.
A new post office opened in Shalimar on July 1, 1943, with Clifford H. Meigs serving as the first postmaster. Previously, mail for the new community was handled through Valparaiso, Florida.
Incorporated in June 1947, Clifford Meigs served as its first mayor. The incorporation was directly related to state law that prohibited clubs in unincorporated areas from staying open from midnight Saturday until Monday morning, which would negatively impact the gambling operations at the casino of the Shalimar Club, the opening of which "was the social event of 1947." "The Fort Walton Beach [sic - Fort Walton did not become Fort Walton Beach until June 1953] places were doing a booming business on the weekends while there were rumors that the sheriff might enforce the law in Shalimar and close the place there," Meigs told the Playground News in 1959. "The owner came to me and suggested incorporation, and while I didn't think I had much to gain then, I agreed. With only about three other freeholders in the area, it was a simple matter to get incorporated." The reprieve on gambling would be temporary, however. "The collapse of Okaloosa gambling was brought about by the glare of outside publicity, reform zeal from within and the direct intervention of Gov. Fuller Warren. The first wind of adversity was blown by the Tampa Tribune's exposé of gambling in Fort Walton." The 1949 article led to the governor suspending Okaloosa County Sheriff Isle Enzor and two constables in 1950 for failure to enforce the state gambling laws. The popular Enzor was reelected in 1952 but gambling was on the way out. "Back on the job and converted to the cause, Sheriff Enzor began cracking down, and soon even the Shalimar Club was turning to more 'legitimate' forms of entertainment. But without gambling, it was just another nightspot. The Shalimar closed for good in 1956."
In 1948, the town features included the Shalimar Store, the Shalimar Service Station, and lumberman and Shalimar resident Roger Clary's Shalimar Club. The 160 residences were rented through Shalimar Homes and Meigs Homes corporations.
In 1950, the 280-car capacity Florida Drive-In Theatre, erected at a cost of ~$40,000, at the junction of Ferry Road and State Road 85, later Eglin Parkway, the main road between the air force base and Fort Walton, Florida, opened on Thursday, June 15, with an Esther Williams picture, "On an Island with You". Operated by the James Tringas family, that also ran the Tringas Theatre in Fort Walton (which is, ironically, still in business in 2015 as a second-run venue), the drive-in would close in the fall of 1973. This property is now occupied by the Shalimar United Methodist Church family life center and a furniture store, which property is also owned by the church.
The Louis Woodham Concrete Company, which would provide construction materials for the growing Shalimar area, was established at Dixie Point at the end of Ferry Road by 1956, and would survive into the late 1970s before being replaced by condominiums. It was regularly supplied by towboats with barges of raw materials which transited across the Choctawhatchee Bay from the Intracoastal Waterway on the south edge of the bay. A Coast Guard tripod navigation marker in the bay just offshore of Meig's Beach, Port Dixie, was removed after merchant commerce ceased to Ferry Point. The end of water deliveries to Ferry Point marked the last gasp of "Port Dixie" as once envisioned.
Clifford Meigs served as mayor until his death in 1960, and was succeeded by his brother Clyde Meigs in November, who had served as a councilman. The first elected mayor was James P. Tras, in 1965, followed by Sarah Tras for a two to three-year term. She had been married to Clifford Meigs at the time of his death, and is the wife of Jim Tras, as of 2009[update]. Residential Meigs Drive, parallelling the Choctawhatchee Bay, Clifford Drive and Sara Drive are all named for the town's founding family. Carl Brandt Drive and Gardner Drive are named for former Eglin AFB commanders.
The Lake Lorraine area at Black's Point to the east of the incorporated Shalimar community was developed in the 1970s, but carries a Shalimar postal address.
The Poquito Bayou area north of the incorporated Shalimar also carries a Shalimar postal address.
The mostly residential area of Okaloosa County between Shalimar and Lake Lorraine continues to be referred to as Port Dixie.
Shalimar has one commercial artery, Eglin Parkway, and most business enterprises are located within a block of State Road 85. A mix of office parks (many occupied by military contractors), restaurants, convenience stores with fuel islands, a furniture store, a Fairfield Inn by Marriott hotel, and other assorted small firms comprise the short business corridor. For a time in the 1960s-1970s, the Central Intelligence Agency had "front" offices in Shalimar. This office may have been involved as a test project office for the Lockheed U-2, with which Fort Walton Beach resident, World War II exile Polish pilot, and CIA officer, Ksawery Wyrożemski was involved. Okaloosa County Sheriff's offices are located in Shalimar. An Okaloosa County courthouse annex, erected in 1975 on land made available by the Meigs family, was razed in the last week of June 2014, after standing vacant for several years. Ground was broken on 29 September 2014 for a new $12 million 64,000 square foot 3-story Okaloosa County Administration Building on the former courthouse annex site. The new facility, under construction by Lord and Son, will house a variety of services, including a large space for County Commission meetings, Supervisor of Elections events, a gross management department, information systems, as well as facilities for the tax collector and supervisor of elections.
Some of the land that Clifford Meigs owned was donated to Okaloosa County for the establishment of a school. When it was finished it was named Choctawhatchee (Choctaw for short) High School, opening September 22, 1952. In 1969 the area needed a middle school, so Okaloosa School District built a new high school in Fort Walton Beach. The previous school was renamed to Clifford Meigs Junior High School, later Clifford Meigs Middle School (Meigs Middle School for short). The football field is known as Meigs Stadium (which is now named in honor of a passed coach). Meigs Middle School, Shalimar Elementary School and Longwood Elementary School are currently (2009) A Schools according to the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test. Clifford Meigs Middle School is now an A+ school (2013) In fact, most schools in the Okaloosa County School District are A schools in 2009.
- George E."Bud" Day - Medal of Honor Recipient, Prisoner of War, Vietnam. Colonel, USAF, Retired
- Aidan Berry - Winner of Food Network's "Kid's Baking Championship," 2017
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- Fort Walton, Florida, "Shalimar Strides Into Second Year", Playground News, Thursday 1 July 1948, Volume 3, Number 22, page 1.
- Angell, Joseph W., "History of the Army Air Forces Proving Ground Command - Part One - Background of Eglin Field 1933-1940", The Historical Branch, Army Air Forces Proving Ground Command, Eglin Field, Florida, 1944, reprint by Office of History, Munitions Systems Division, Eglin AFB, Florida, 1989, page 34.
- Fort Walton Beach, Florida, "The Eglin Story: Germans Operated a Plant To Make Dye at Port Dixie", Playground News, Thursday 6 October 1955, Volume 9, Number 87, page 3.
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- Crestview, Florida, "Shalimar Project In Use - Families Of Officers Now Moving Into New Spacious Quarters", Okaloosa News-Journal, Friday 15 May 1942, Volume 28, Number 17, page 1.
- Crestview, Florida, "Shalimar Now Has New Postoffice", Okaloosa News-Journal, Friday 3 July 1943, Volume 30, Number 20, page 1.
- Dobson, Henry Allen, "A History of Okaloosa County, Florida", A Thesis Presented to the Graduate Faculty of Southeastern Louisiana University, June 1974.
- Holland, Elizabeth E., staff writer, "Our Town", Northwest Florida Daily News, Fort Walton Beach, Florida, Monday 25 June 1990.
- Jackson, Harvey H., "The Rise and Decline of the Redneck Riviera: An Inside History of the Florida-Alabama Coast", University of Georgia Press, Athens, Georgia, 2012, Library of Congress control number 2011040110, ISBN 978-0-8203-3400-4, Chapter Three, "Bring 'em Down, Keep 'em Happy, And Keep 'em Spending", pages 46-47.
- Fort Walton, Florida, "New Florida Drive-In Sets Formal Opening", Playground News, Thursday 15 June 1950, Volume 5, Number 20, pages 1, 8.
- Display advert, The Okaloosa News-Journal, Crestview, Florida, Thursday 4 October 1956, Volume 42, Number 40, page 8.
- Fort Walton Beach, Florida, "Clyde Meigs Named Mayor of Shalimar", Playground News, 15 November 1960, Volume 15, Number "43" (actually 44), page 1.
- "Holm, Richard L., "A Plane Crash, Rescue, and Recovery - A Close Call in Africa", Center for the Study of Intelligence, Historical Perspectives, Washington, D.C., Winter 1999-2000, footnote 2. https://www.cia.gov/library/center-for-the-study-of-intelligence/csi-publications/csi-studies/studies/winter99-00/art2.html
- Freeman, Danielle, "Breaking Ground On County Administration Building In Shalimar", WUWF Public Media, Pensacola, Florida, Tuesday 30 September 2014.
- Florida Department Of Education Archived 2009-06-27 at the Wayback Machine., FCAT Results 2009