The Coombs House was built in 1905 it was known as “the most elegant house in Apalachicola. The house was the pride of James N. Coombs, successful entrepreneur, recognized as the wealthiest man in town for his ownership of three sawmills. Mr. Coombs married his childhood sweetheart, Maria. In 1877 they moved to Apalachicola. Increased demand for lumber brought success to Coombs and enabled him to set up the Franklin County Lumber Company in Apalachicola and in nearby Carrabelle. With all his business success, Jim Coombs had a keen political interests an active member of the Republican Party at one Republican convention he met young governor of New York, Theodore Roosevelt, and the two became friends. A local rumor had it that Teddy had offered him the opportunity to be the Republican candidate for Vice President of the United States in the election of 1904, but that Coombs had turned him down.
In 1905, James Coombs decided his family needed a home that would reflect their social and economic status. Tragedy struck the Coombs family in 1911. At midnight on March 6 a fire started in the attic of the house and burned its way through the roof. Three volunteer horse drawn fire companies answered the call, and quickly pumped enough water onto the house to douse the fire. While the house was not destroyed, it was seriously damaged, and Mrs. Coombs’ prized furniture, bedding, china and linens were piled in a soaked heap in front of the house. Shocked and saddened, Mr. and Mrs. Coombs moved into the Franklin Hotel that night with the intention of living there until their house could be repaired. They never returned to their home. Mrs. Coombs, who had taken to her bed, died ten days later in the hotel. Many said she died of a broken heart. Three weeks after that, on April 8, James N. Coombs died. Both are buried, side-by-side, in the Chestnut Street cemetery, just across the street from their beloved Coombs House.