Frangista Beach History

Frangista Beach community has a very interesting history. It was named “Frangista” after a town in Greece by John and Ruth Nitsos who immigrated to the US back in 1910. The young couple arrived in New York and later moved south. In a true American entrepreneurial spirit, John and Ruth established a number of successful restaurants. By the early 1920s they arrived near Mobile and bought two beachfront rental properties near Gulf Shores, Alabama. Their hard work and success continued enabling them to build their own special family beach retreat. After scouring the area for property to build a dream cottage on the beach, they found a piece paradise on a very remote two lane road that ran along the gorgeous gulf, connecting Destin to Panama City.

Once complete, their cottage was one of the only homes located along a long lonely stretch of highway. On occasion, travelers would stop by and some inquired if they could rent a room in their charming beach cottage. The enterprising couple realized the potential of how much income could be derived from such travelers who were looking for a place to stay in this obscure exquisite piece of paradise near Destin. Soon they decided to build a small beachfront motel by their home, the Frangista Beach Inn. It was almost an immediate success so they also built a restaurant to serve their travelers and established a camp ground for others near the Inn. Business at Frangista Beach Inn and the surrounding properties kept growing and so they built additional beach cottages that were rented to guests who wanted an out of the way location for a family vacation.

Anchored by the Frangista Beach Inn, this isolated part of the beach started to look like a real community so John decided to name it Frangista Beach in homage to his home town in Greece. Before long they added a beach picnic pavilion for guests along with an arcade, a miniature golf course and even a small bowling alley. The Nitsos family successfully operated these businesses for many decades. In 1959 the family decided to build a Greek Orthodox chapel near their established thriving community. It was to be constructed in classic Greek style with a simple design, a steeple and alabaster white stucco walls. They named it St. Nikolas by the Sea, dedicated to be a place where people could find a modest sanctuary for prayer and reflection. Unfortunately John Nitsos passed away just prior to its completion and the chapel never established an organized congregation of worship.

The Frangista Beach properties continued to thrive and in 1994 two more rental buildings called “Periwinkle” and “Seabreeze” were added bringing it to a total of eleven separate structures. Many of these were completely remodeled and renovated at this same time and an Olympic sized swimming pool and hot tub was added. Unfortunately one year later the entire area was devastated by Hurricane Opal and most of old Frangista Beach was destroyed. However, the beautiful sugar white beach and emerald colored waters remained along with the family’s substantial parcel of property.

Late 2000 a “new” Frangista Beach was created through a Master Plan Development that was so stunning it was featured in Coastal Living Magazine and shown on HGTV.  Located just east of Holiday Road on Scenic Gulf Drive in Miramar Beach, this upscale residential community on the glistening gulf has privately gated beach access with a wonderful mix of custom built homes and condominiums that have been completed since 2000. Like the original, many of these residences are beachfront on the crystalline white shores that parallels the jewel toned waters of the glistening gulf. The architectural mix includes modern contemporary condominiums as well as homes with columned neoclassical designs, stately Mediterranean styles and nostalgic “Old Florida” reproductions many of which are adorned with a wide breezy porch. A long row of towering palms lines the main drive that includes manicured yards and charming picket fences. Besides the beach, which is within easy walking distance of all the properties, Frangista Beach has a lushly landscaped private oasis of sorts that is centrally located and features a gated, sparkling fresh water pool. This secluded area is surrounded by an intimate patio that is decorated by columned arbors and includes full bathroom facilities with showers.

Besides this interesting history, Frangista Beach has a fantastic location halfway between the popular Pompano Joe’s restaurant and The Whale’s Tail which are also within short walking distance right down the beach. If you are in the mood for championship golf or tennis, Seascape is under a mile away. World class discount shopping is also close by at Silver Sands, the nation’s largest designer outlet as well as the upscale specialty shops on Grand Boulevard in Sandestin which also features fine restaurants and a new movie theater with stadium seating.


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