The story of Four Mile Village is truly a lesson in history, a mix of old and new, reminiscent of another time and representing the strength of a paradise, whose core values and scenic views remain the same. From a nearly untouched land of trees and sand to a key component of America’s defense and its current site as a luxurious sanctuary, Four Mile Village is a strong yet serene setting, rich with beauty and elements of days gone by.
This beautiful, Gulf-front wilderness in the early 1940s that had been previously logged for pine, but was largely undeveloped and in its natural state was used as a military missile testing site from 1944 to 1945. Two of these launching ramps still exist today and can be observed by guests, along with four accompanying control bunkers and various makeshift roadways. Interestingly enough, these humble beginnings served as the start of the US strategic missile program.
As World War II was underway and Northwest Florida served as an important military testing site, the land was requested for use by the U.S. Military (Army Air Force) as an “important military mission.” Throughout 1944 and 1945, the military occupied the property and even built a rocket test facility, testing JB-2 missiles on site, which was the American version of the German flying V-1 and V-2 bombs or “buzz bombs.” Over 600 unarmed missiles were test-launched from the property into the Gulf of Mexico. Two of these launching ramps still exist today.
In 1976, the Coffeen Nature Preserve was officially created as Dorothy Coffeen donated 197 acres of undeveloped land at Four Mile Village to the Sierra Club Foundation. The deed transferring the property to the Foundation states that the grant was made because of the "expressed intentions and promise to conserve and preserve the natural beauty and characteristics of the area called the Coffeen Nature Preserve for educational, conservational, and scientific purposes limited by the size, sensitivity and character of the land conveyed."