|Place of Birth:||Pensacola, Fl|
Beloved Citizen and Crusader for Old Christ Church
Leila Abercrombie, known as "Miss Leila" to many, was born Feb 9, 1892, in Pensacola and spent most of her life here. She attended local schools and later Converse College. Although she was educated as a teacher she worked for more than 35 years at Citizens and Peoples Bank.
Miss Abercrombie was baptized at Christ Church on Seville Square and worshipped there her first eleven years. When the Great Depression hit, a new Christ Church had been built on Palafox and Wright streets and the old church building was vacant. It provided shelter to many homeless people.
One day when she found broken windows and other damage to the old church she went to City Hall and asked the city manager if the police could check on the church from time to time. They said they could not unless the city owned the building. The city was looking for a building to house a Works Project Administration-backed library and it was decided the old church would be a good location for the Pensacola Public Library. The library opened there in 1938 but moved to West Gregory Street in 1957. "Miss Leila" spent a small inheritance to re-roof the church during its days as a library.
She moved to a larger home on West Garden in Street 1941 and rented rooms and apartments to businesswomen and teachers. During World War II, she had Sunday night suppers for service men who attended Christ Church, most of them British flight students.
As her retirement from the bank approached in the mid-1950s, she became interested in genealogy and a museum for Pensacola. The Pensacola Historical Society was planning for a museum and selected the old church building, which was deeded to the city by Christ Church Parish. It was stipulated that the building must be used as a library or museum or it would be returned to the Parish.
In seeking its first curator, the society selected Miss Abercrombie, who had studied history in college and loved Pensacola and its heritage. Being a native gave her an advantage as curator because she knew the history of Pensacola and where to look for artifacts.
Miss Leila continued to search for archival material and artifacts even after retiring as curator 10 years later. She advised people to develop interests beyond home and their work and to read and learn more about the world around them. When she was nearing her 80th birthday she said she planned something for every day because she wasn't "someone to sit around twiddling my thumbs." She once said she loved every brick and piece of wood in Old Christ Church.
She died on Dec. 26, 1981 and is buried in St. John's Historic Cemetery, 2 North. Section 19.