The history of Shields Marina goes back further than the marina itself. It all began in 1928 when O. P. Shields settled in St. Marks, Florida. (O.P. was the paternal grandfather of Charles C. Shields, Jr.) Although O.P. founded a charter boat service which catered to many of the top State of Florida officials, including the governor and cabinet members, his visions went much further than simply operating fishing trips.
Shortly after establishing the charter boat business, he opened a small café for the purpose of providing breakfast to the men & boys who came down to fish in the rich waters of Apalachee Bay. (At that time, very few women went out on the charter boats.) His venture grew and in a short time he expanded his café into a larger operation that served not only breakfast but lunch and dinner as well and it became known as Shields Café. It was located where the vacant lot now stands next to the little general store (Bo Lynn’s Grocery) on the corner of Riverside Drive and Port Leon Drive here in Florida. The restaurant became famous for its seafood and Greek salads and was run by two Greek gentlemen, Nick and Pete who were from the Tarpon Springs area. While they never brought their families to live in St. Marks, they took turns spending two weeks each running the restaurant. O.P. died in 1959 and the estate sold the restaurant. Shortly thereafter, it burned down never to be reopened. The stories go that on any given Sunday, you had to wait in line just to get a seat and be able to eat the seafood that made it famous.
But besides the charter boat business and the café, O.P. had other ventures. In the late 1940’s, he dug the canal which is still used today as well as the building at the end of it owned by Theo & Martha Ann Proctor. His vision was for the big boathouse building to be a clubhouse and to sell lots on each side of the canal for private weekend homes where people could dock their boats. Unfortunately he died before his vision became a reality but not before the canal was finished complete with a fresh water spring to keep the water circulating.
Because the family was large and there was no will, most of the FL land that O.P. Shields acquired was sold to individuals to pay the various taxes and attorney fees. The land on the north side of the canal was purchased mainly by the Lynn family who opened up a marina that is still in existence today. The land on the south side of the canal was purchased by individuals. The land east of the marina store where the open boat slips are now located was owned by the Roberts family but leased to Tenneco on a 99 year lease.
In 1953, Myrtle & Curtis Shields who both previously worked for Curtis’ father, O.P. Shields, opened their own small bait and tackle shop. It was a simple concrete block building approximately 12 x 20 with an ice house on one end. They catered mostly to the private boats as the commercial boats were all docked down river where the marina basin (covered boat storage) is now located. They also had rental boats and guides to take folks out fishing. The commercial docks went from where Riverside Café is currently located all the way to where the current marina store is located and were operated by E. W. Roberts.
Myrtle & Curtis’s small mom and pop operation in FL grew and their two sons Chuck and Benny also worked in the marina. This operation was named Shields & Sons Marina. It was incorporated in 1968 and became Shields Marina as it is presently named today.
In the early 70’s, the marina was purchased by its current owners, Pamela & Charles Shields. Chuck had visions of what he wanted the marina to become and started working on buying back the land that once was owned by his grandfather but lost after his death. This was mainly due to his not having a will and the sibling rivalry over the property that resulted in costly law suites.
Over the next 10-15 years, Chuck was able to buy back most of the land he needed for his vision and dream to become a reality. This was accomplished by paying himself very little and putting the profits of the marina into land purchases. During this time, Pam also did all the bookkeeping in order to save money that would have gone to hiring someone to do this. Except for his college years, the time he served in the United States Army and a brief stint working for his uncle at Ajax Construction Company in Tallahassee, the marina has been Chuck’s life and his love.
By the early 1990’s, his youngest son, Michael Brett Shields, had graduated from college with a degree in building and construction. He also went to work for Ajax Construction Company as a project manager. While he loved his work at Ajax, he also loved the water and the idea of being associated with the marina and soon afterwards was back working with his dad. (All three of the Shields’ boys worked at the marina while they were growing up working on weekends and summers. However Brett’s brothers Barry & Barton had other interests and have other professional occupations.)
At this time, 2009, the marina is owned primarily by Pamela G. & Charles C. Shields (Pam & Chuck) but Brett Shields owns considerable marina stock and will be the primary stock holder in the not-too-distant future. Brett currently serves as vice president of the corporation and with his mother and father comprises the Board of Directors.
After surviving several hurricanes, the old marina ship store was finally destroyed during Hurricane Dennis in 2005. It took almost four years to design, permit and finish what is now the current ship store and offices. While Pam and Chuck had a vital role in this new venture, Brett was the primary person responsible for its construction utilizing his degree in Building & Construction from the University of West Florida in Pensacola. He maintains his contractor’s license to this day and takes continuing education classes required to keep his license current.
Our next major project will be to remodel the covered boat storage area as time has taken its toll on the both the seawall and existing structure.
While the marina seems to be a constant project in the works, we hope it is also a place of enjoyment for our many customers, their families and our employees, all of whom we value and are thankful for. Currently, we proudly offer new boats and used boats for sale by Angler, Crest, and Sunset Bay featuring center console, pontoons, deck, cruiser, aft cabin, cuddy cabin, fishing, walkarounds, flats and other types of boats. You can also shop Evinrude outboard motors, Mercury and Yamaha outboards and more by Honda and Suzuki as well as a great selection of parts. We also offer a wonderful selection of boat rentals, too.