George Mortimer West, a writer, promoter, economist, horticulturist, publisher, railroader, attorney, photographer, and entrepreneur, is credited as the founding father of Panama City, developing it into an economically viable city on the shores of St. Andrews Bay. He and his third wife Lillian Carlisle West, built this Panama City Publishing Company building in 1920, in the heart of historic St. Andrews.
The building served as the home of Panama City’s first newspapers, including the Panama City Pilot, the St. Andrews Bay News, and Lynn Haven Free Press. They also did commercial job printing such as letterhead, invoices, envelopes, etc. West died in 1926, and “Miss Lillian,” continued to run the business. She was an extraordinary businesswoman for her time, and the first woman registered to vote in St. Andrews. Miss Lillian sold the newspapers to John Perry, owner of the Panama City Herald in 1937, and he merged the papers into the current Panama City News Herald.
In addition to photos, newspapers, and documents, produced by Mr. West, the building houses more than 70 major historical items, including original printing presses and office furnishings, which were still in use by Mr. West’s great-great grandson Charles (Buddy) West, who operated the business until the City of Panama City purchased the building in October 2005, restored it, and opened it as a museum in 2008.
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