Florida Society of American Foresters

Putnam Lodge State Historic Landmark

Built in 1927, Dixie County's Putnam Lodge was once a haven for visitors to one of Florida's largest sawmills. Now the lodge is the most visible reminder of an era during which the Putnam Lumber Company annually produced 40MM board feet of tidewater red cypress and 100MM board feet of longleaf yellow pine at its mill in Shamrock. To commerate this landmark, the Suwannee Chapter's Dr. Ed Barnard spearheaded efforts to erect a historical monument at the lodge and dedicate it with a ceremony held on December 8, 2004.

The marker was funded through grants from the Forester's Fund and the Florida Division. With funding secure, the marker's text had to be approved by the Florida Division of Historical Resources before it could be cast. Once cast and constructed, the marker's placement had to be permitted by the Department of Transportation. The whole process, lasting more than two years, was a labor of love for Dr. Barnard. The payoff was a grand unveiling attended by SAF members from across the state, local dignitaries, and even former residents of the lodge. The formal ceremony was followed by an elegent luncheon in the restored dining room of the lodge.

Foresters and friends gather in front of the Putnam Lodge for the dedication of the historic marker. In attendence (from front right) were Marcus Hayes, Chair of the Dixie County Board of Commissioners, Tank Lee, Mayor of Cross City, and Buddy Lamb, President of the Dixie County Historical Society.

Left, Dr. Wayne Smith, Florida Divison Chair listens as SAF Golden Member Ed Dew remembers his early career in the area.

Right, Dixie County native and retired Division of Forestry Director Earl Peterson introduces former Putnam Lodge resident Billy Chauncey.

The event also celebrated of the efforts of the lodge's owner Ardith Eagen who with Earnie Tokai brought the building back from near ruin to a state that reflects it 1920's heyday. The reconditioned pecky cypress paneling of the lobby and dining room along with the elegent furnishings evoke the genteel charm of an earlier era. The Putnam Lodge is now considered a centerpiece in the county's promotion of nature and heritage tourism.


From left, Florida Division Chair Dr. Wayne Smith, lodge
owner Ardith Eagan, and project coordinator Dr. Ed Barnard.


A view of the lobby showing pecky cypress paneling.


The lodge during the early 1900s.


The lodge during renovation.

Text of the Marker

Putnam Lodge, built in 1927-28 by the Putnam Lumber Company, is part of a bygone era in Florida's forestry history. Here, beside the old Dixie Highway, Putnam Lodge, part of the "company town" of Shamrock, accommodated tourists, transients and company executives and clients. The lobby and the dining room of the 36-room lodge were decorated exclusively with the still preserved, artfully stenciled "pecky cypress," a now virtually extinct lumber product. In its day, the Putnam Lumber Company, founded by William O'Brien, a timber magnate of Irish descent, and associates including E. B. Putnam, employed hundreds at its two state-of-the-art sawmills in Shamrock. The mills annually produced and shipped worldwide millions of feet of "deep swamp tidewater cypress" and "dense Florida longleaf yellow pine" lumber, products that are now rare because the old growth trees are gone. Shamrock provided its residents and employees with comfortable homes, a commissary, a store comparable to "any city department store," two schools, two hotels, the Shamrock Dairy Farm, and an ice plant producing 18 tons of ice daily. The lodge is representative of a time of local timber supremacy and economic prosperity.


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