A replica of Gorrie's ice machine, built from the specifications of his 1851 patent, is on display in the museum. The Apalachicola River's rich floodplains attracted many settlers during the 1800s and played an important role in the development of the town of Apalachicola. The museum commemorates the life of the inventor of the first mechanical refrigeration machine.
In 1851, Dr. John Gorrie was granted the first U.S. patent for mechanical refrigeration. Although he was never able to commercialize it, his invention influenced the development of machines that have revolutionized food preservation and made life in hot climates far more bearable. Gorrie is also credited with saving many lives during the yellow fever epidemic of the 1850s.