Then….and Now

Florida Photographic Collection

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Posted April 16, 2021 |

The Ocala downtown is shown in this photo circa 1940. In the center of the photo is the historic Marion County Courthouse. The building went up in 1906 and featured a Roman design with a clocked dome. It was finished with a veneer of sandstone on the exterior. After efforts to save the structure failed, it was demolished in 1965. While the site was designed as a public square in the original city layout in 1846, it served as home to three county courthouses starting in 1851. After the 1965 demolition, the area finally fulfilled its original intent as a public square. [State Archives of Florida]

In this 2021 photo of the downtown square, the recently opened Hilton Garden Inn can be seen in the bottom right. The site was the home of the Ocala House Hotel, the first version of which opened in 1846. Part of the historic hotel is seen in the photo above. That building was also torn down in the 1960s. In the upper left portion of the 2021 photo, a parking lot is visible next to the Sovereign Building. In the historic photo, a row of buildings is shown in the space. Those buildings were home to several department stores including Sears, J.C. Penney and Belk-Lindsey. The whole block was razed after the buildings fell into disrepair. [Alan Youngblood/Special to the Ocala Gazette]

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