Presidio San Miguel de Panzacola was located in present-day downtown Pensacola, Florida. A small blockhouse was erected here in the 1740s by the Spanish. Some of the survivors from the hurricane that destroyed Presidio Isla Santa Rosa Punta de Siguenza took refuge in Fort San Miguel on the mainland in 1752 and the decision was taken to expand the small blockhouse into a new stockaded presidio. It took until 1756 to finalize the plan. Construction on the new Presidio began in August 1757 and progressed rapidly because of a threat from the local Tallapoosa Indians. A double stockade some 700 feet long enclosed the Presidio 21 cannons and several buildings, including the brick governor’s house, soldiers’ barracks, and houses, a warehouse, church, and hospital. A village surrounded the stockade, housing the officers, married soldiers, and civilians. In 1761 the population of the Presidio swelled to over 900 people.
At the end of the French and Indian War, Spain ceded Florida to England. The British arrived in Pensacola in August 1763 and took possession of the Presidio. The Spanish Commandant and almost 800 people then sailed off to other Spanish territories. The British occupied the old presidio, referring to it as the Fort at Pensacola, and began a series of failed attempts to make it habitable. it was during this time that the change of pronunciation to “Pensacola” occurred.
Today, some ruins remain between Plaza Ferdinand VII and Seville Square in downtown Pensacola. The ruins are a mix of Spanish and British-era buildings.
© Kathy Weiser-Alexander/Legends of America, updated June 2021.