Florida Historical Markers Programs - Marker: Indian River

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Indian River

Location:U.S. 1 at Sebastian Inlet
County: Indian River
City: Sebastian
Description: Settled in the 1870's, Sebastian became an important trading and fishing center during the era of the river steamers. To improve commerce and fishing, pioneers in 1886 attempted unsuccessfully to link the ocean with the river via the Sebastian Inlet. A channel was successfully cut in 1895, but a storm filled the inlet with sand shortly afterwards. In 1921, it was reopened only to be closed again by erosion. Jetties were constructed later to protect the channel permanently.
Location:south of Sebastin Inlet State Recreation Area on A
County: Indian River
City: Orchid Island
Description: Late in July, 1715, a hurricane destroyed a fleet of eleven or possibly twelve homeward bound merchant ships carrying cargoes of gold and silver coinage and other valuable items from the American colonies to Spain. About 1500 men, women, and children who survived the disaster and reached the shore made their camp along the barrier island near the place where the fleet's flagship had sunk. Governor General Corcoles sent a relief party composed chiefly of Indian auxiliaries from St. Augustine to provide subsistence for the survivors. These auxiliaries also gave protection and aid to the salvagers who used the campsite while working to recover the valuable cargo from the sunken vessels. Archaeological work at the site revealed that the salvagers seem to have erected some temporary structuresfor use as storehouses for the recovered gold and silver. While the salvage operation was in process, Henry Jennings, an English pirate, sailed to the site, drove off the guards and seized a large quantity of the recovered coins which he carried away to Port Royal, Jamaica. But the great majority of the treasure was safely regained and moved to Havana by the Spanish salvagers.
Sponsors: Sponsored by treasure coast chapter nsdar in cooperation with department of state
Location:Corner of 21st Street and 16th Ave
County: Indian River
City: Vero Beach
Description: The pattern of community development which occurred in Vero Beach provides insight into some important aspects of Florida's history. Although the coastal waters in the region attracted fishermen, settlement of this area did not occur until the 1880's. during that decade, the problem of lack of transportation which had deterred settlers was solved by railroad construction. In 1891, a post office named Vero was established at the home of Henry Gifford who had settled on the site in 1888. When the railroad was extended south to Lake Worth in 1894, a depot was built at Vero. With the railroad came tourism and a growing interest in the area. At that time, large scale drainage of swamp land such as that which surrounded Vero was being undertaken in Florida. An example of the way in which investors took advantage of the newly recognized potential of swampy areas may be found in the creation of the Indian River Farms Company. In 1909, Herman T. Zeuch of Davenport, Iowa visited the Vero area. He saw land that could be drained and sold to citrus farmers and cattle raisers. A corporation, the Indian River Farms Company, was chartered in 1912 with stockholders who were chiefly residents of Zeuch's home town. In 1913, the town of Vero was platted at the Company's direction. In 1915, the Vero Woman's Club was founded, an act which signified the vitality of the new community. A clubhouse, located near this marker, was built the next year on land donated by the Indian River Farms Company. The planned drainage program was completed in 1917. In that year, maintenance and extension of the drainage area was given over to the State of Florida. The name of the community was changed to Vero Beach in 1925, when the town became the county seat of newly created IndianRriver County. The Indian River Farms company was dissolved in 1936. Vero Beach has remained the center of this productive citrus growing region.
Sponsors: Sponsored by vero beach woman's club in cooperation with department of state
Location:S.R. 60 and S.R. 609 intersection, near I95 west o
County: Indian River
City: Vero Beach
Description: A few miles southwest of this marker is the site of Fort Vinton. As white settlers moved into Florida, demands increased for the removal of the Seminole Indians to a western reservation. The Seminoles did not wish to leave, and in 1835 the conflict known as the Second Seminole war began. The 1838-39 campaign of that war was planned with the major objective of driving Indians away from settled areas and into the southern part of Florida. New posts were to be built where needed and others, such as Fort Pierce, were to be reoccupied. Supply outposts were needed for field campaigns, and early in April, 1839, such a post, called Fort or Post No. 2, was constructed about twenty miles northwest of Fort Pierce. This fortification was abandoned by or before 1842, when hostilities ended. Early in 1850, when another concerted effort to force the remnants of the Seminoles to emigrate got underway, it was reactivated as Fort Vinton. The post was named for Captain John R. Vinton, who had served in the area during the earlier conflict and had died in the Mexican War. Fort Vinton, an outpost of Fort Capron at Indian River Inlet, was soon abandoned (May, 1850) and is not known to have played a role in the hostilities of the later 1850's.
Sponsors: sponsored by treasure coast chapter national society daughters of the american revolution in cooperation with department of state
Location:2225 Club Drive
County: Indian River
City: Vero Beach
Description: The Riomar Club chose this site for its clubhouse which was completed and opened in 1930. Ladies were attired in flowing formal gowns and the men in strikingly-starched white linen suits. A center for social activities for the area, the club drew many permanent residents and winter visitors to Vero Beach. The building is a Spanish-design clubhouse reminiscent of the style of Palm Beach. The exterior is stucco with interior pecky cypress beams. Purchased in 1965 for the purpose of starting an independent school, affiliated with the Episcopal Church, Saint Edward's School opened with 33 students in Grades 5-8. In 1972, the Upper School campus was opened on A-1-A south of here, and the Riomar building continued to house Grades Kindergarten through Grade 6, adding Pre-Kindergarten in 1983. The building was renovated in 1988 with the exterior maintaining the original character. On November 3, 1988, Bishop William Folwell dedicated the newly renovated building, and with his pastoral staff he marked the threshold with the sign of the cross and gave a blessing.
Sponsors: Saint Edward's School in Cooperation with the Florida Department of State
Location:350 U.S. 1
County: Indian River
City: Vero Beach
Description: This is the original site of McKee Jungle Gardens, one of Florida's earliest tourist attractions. McKee Gardens was founded in 1932 by Vero Beach pioneer Waldo Sexton and Cleveland industrialist Arthur G. McKee. They engaged William Lyman Phillips, a landscape architect who designed Fairchild Tropical Gardens and Bok Tower Gardens, to enhance and develop the 80 acres of dense tropical vegetation. The gardens contained a collection of native and imported tropical plants, an aviary, resident monkeys, and an alligator named "Ole Mac." One of the most impressive components of Phillips' design was the magnificent Cathedral of Palms, a colossal stand of more than 300 royal palms planted in precise rows. At its height of popularity the garden attracted 100,000 visitors annually, but closed in 1976, unable to compete with the allure of new theme parks nearby. Most of the acreage became a golf course and condominiums. The remaining 18 acres, now known as McKee Botanical Garden, were saved from destruction by the Indian River Land Trust and the citizens of Indian River County, and serves as an example of environmental stewardship and horticultural inspiration. Listed in the National Register of Historic Places-January 1998
Sponsors: Sponsored by the Indian River Land Trust Indian River County Historical Society Indian River County Tourist Development Council and The Florida Department of State
Location:Co. Rd. 507, near road to Goodwin Wildlife Mangement Area, Fellsmere Grade
County: Indian River
City: Fellsmere
Description: Fellsmere, the northernmost town in St. Lucie County in 1919, had a population of over 800 people. The county built the first public road to cross the St. Johns River marsh in St. Lucie County (now Indian River County). Promote as the Fellsmere-Tampa cross state road, this road allowed travel between the interior and the coast. From 1919 until the 1940's, this road served as an important transportation route from Fellsmere, across the river to Kenansville, the sawmill at Holopaw, and the cattle markets of Kissimmee, but it never reached Tampa. During these decades it became a state road (SSR 170) and provided a corridor to Central Florida and a recreational access to the St. Johns River marshes. The town of Fellsmere was dependent on the sportsmen attracted to these resources. In the late 1940's the bridges burned across the river and the Fellsmere Grade ended in the marsh six miles from this site. Today this road serves the public as a recreational access.
Location:Vero Beach Municipal Airport
County: Indian River
City: Vero Beach
Description: Site of the Main Hanger and Control Tower of the Vero Beach Naval Air Station (NAS) that was commissioned on 24 November 1942 to provide Navy and Marine flight training base for over 2700 men 300 WAVES and women Marines. The previously city-owned airport expanded from 100 acres to 2500 acres and contained self-supporting facilities for a population equal to the size of Vero Beach. The purpose of the NAS was constantly revised from originally training dive-bomber pilots to daytime pilots and ultimately to nighttime fighter pilots. Ingenuity of the maintenance crews was required to keep planes operational due to the shortage of repair parts. Almost 200 men received training on the Brewster SB2A Buccaneer and 1400 men on the Grumman F4F Wildcat, F6F Hellcat, F7F Tigercat. Although extensive safety procedures were established, records show over 100 lives were lost in flight training accidents. Training diminished after VJ Day (14 August 1945), but as of 2 September 1945, records show 237,102 hours of flight time had been provided since the first flight in December 1942. The Vero Beach NAS was placed in caretaker status in June 1946 and deeded back to the city.
Sponsors: the Indian River County Historical Society, the City of Vero Beach and the Florida Department of State
Location:On Broadway, block #99; lots 12-14
County: Indian River
City: Fellsmere
Description: “The population of Fellsmere is of a high type of intelligence, with lofty ideals and wise execution. Progressive in all things, perhaps no better indication of the fact may be given than the unanimous vote of the town granting unrestricted suffrage to women.” Fellsmere Tribune, March 8, 1916. At a February 1915 meeting at the Dixie Theater, Fellsmere citizens accepted the articles of incorporation unanimously. The charter included a unique proposal that women be granted full and equal privilege for suffrage in municipal elections. Local bills seldom received close scrutiny from legislators, and the equal suffrage provision went unnoticed. In signing the act that created the town of Fellsmere, Governor Park Trammell, in effect, gave women the right to vote in its municipal elections. In the June 19, 1915 city election, Mrs. Zena M. Dreier was the first woman to cast a ballot in Fellsmere, in all of Florida, and south of the Mason-Dixon Line. The town residents took much pride in this unique woman’s right, and urged neighboring municipalities to follow the ‘Fellsmere Way’ to equal suffrage. In 1919, a U.S. Constitutional amendment granted suffrage to women. But history will note that Fellsmere led the way.
Location:Near Riverside Park
County: Indian River
City: Vero Beach
Description: River travel was vital to the early human activity of Florida and the Indian River area. In the early 1900s, efforts began to dredge the Indian River. By the 1930s, the U.S. Corps of Engineers routinely maintained this channel called the Intracoastal Waterway. After World War II the channel was once again slated for dredging and Alex MacWilliam, Sr., a veteran and member of the Florida Legislature, proposed a special project and persuaded the federal government to realign the existing Vero Beach channel to make way for a modern drawbridge (the first Merrill P. Barber Bridge) and to create a memorial island with the surplus dredging material. Lest We Forget are the words used in the dedication of this island on May 3, 1964. This one man and hundreds of citizens in Indian River County did not forget and 17 years later created Veterans Memorial Island Sanctuary. The Vero Beach Beautification Society and the Garden Club coordinated the beautification of the property. Today the Stars and Stripes wave proudly over this Island Sanctuary which can be seen from the deep channel of the Intracoastal Waterway and the two modern bridges now spanning the Indian River.
Location:65 North Cypress Street
County: Indian River
City: Fellsmere
Description: The Merian Fell Library, the oldest library in Indian River County, opened its doors to the public on May 1, 1915 at 63 North Cypress Street, Fellsmere, Florida. Construction of the library was made possible by Marian Fell, daughter of Edward Nelson Fell (the founder of Fellsmere) through royalties she received from translating literary works of Russian author and playwright Ashton Chekov. Born in 1886, Marian Fell was educated in private schools in the United States, Paris, and Russia. Between 1912 and 1916, Saribner's published five of Marian Fell's translations, some of the first Russian literature to appear in English. The Fell family is believed to have resided directly across the street from the library, at 88 Cypress Street, from 1915 to 1917. North of the library were two grass tennis courts belonging to the Fellsmere Tennis Association, where the 1916 Fell Cup was held. The Fell Library is typical of many architecturally modest library buildings constructed in small Florida towns during the early twentieth century, and has been used for readings, recitals, meetings, social events, and children's programs since it opened. The library is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
Sponsors: Indian River Country Historical Society The Mary Carter Memorial Fund The Fellsmere Community Redevelopment Agency and the Florida Department of State
Location:22 S Orange St
County: Indian River
City: Fellsmere
Description: The Fellsmere Public School, the first masonry school building in what is now Indian River County, was constructed during 1915 and 1916 at 22 South Orange Street. The 22,680 square foot, two-story school with a raised basement was designated by Frederick Homer Trimble, a former Methodist missionary architect who had worked in Fuzhou, China. Trimble, who began his architectural career in the United State in 1915 with the Fellsmere School, designed several building in Fellsmere and Vero Beach, and over 150 buildings in South Florida. Trimble also designed the first buildings at Florida Southern College in Lakeland. The bid to construct the school was awarded to Arthur F. Sanders, a Fellsmere contractor, on May 4, 1915 by the St. Lucie County School Board. Trimble donated the plans for the Fellsmere school but was paid $100 per month to oversee its construction. The school's construction was delayed for several months before funding was obtained from the sale of bonds. By September 1915 Sanders' crews had constructed the Fellsmere Short Line Railroad from the Fellsmere Farms Railroad north of South Carolina Avenue down to the center of Cypress Street to the school site. A special railcar build tin Palatka was used to haul materials to the school on 4x4 heart-of-pine rails spiked to 2x8 crossties. Work began on the school's foundation in October 1915, and was completed in mid-November 1915. On January 31, 1916, the school's cornerstone was laid under the direction of the Grand Masonic Lodge. The Fellsmere, Public School was completed the same year at a cost of $40,000. The school's doors opened to 136 students on October 2, 1916. Principal Anderson A. Price, Assistant Principal Ina C. Elder, and five women teachers, Miss Jesse M. Hunter (the first teacher in Fellsmere, 1912), Miss Neva M. Hunter, Mrs. A.A. (Lula) Price, Miss Ethel Jones, and Miss Agnes Helseth provided instruction for grades 1-12. The Fellsmere School is the oldest public school building in Indian River County, and remained active as a school until 1964. It was later used as the Fellsmere City Hall and Police Station. It is the birthplace of the annual Fellsmere Frogleg Festival. In 2010, the City of Fellsmere restored the school for use as a Cit Hall/Government Center/Boys and Girls Club at a cost of $3.060,000. On October 19, 2010, the Fellsmere Public School building was once again re-opened to the public.
Sponsors: City of Fellsmere, Indian River County Historical Society and the Florida Department of State
Location:South Carolina Ave and N. Broadway St.
County: Indian River
City: Fellsmere
Description: The standard-gauge Fellsmere Railroad was completed in 1910 with 60 lb. rail to replace the old Sebastian & Cincinnatus narrow-gauge railroad built between Sebastian and Fellsmere. The Fellsmere Farms Company used the 10 mile long railroad from September 1910 until May 1, 1911 for carrying logs to the Florida East Coast Railway in Sebastian and for transporting supplies, materials, equipment, and heavy machinery used for excavating drainage canals to Fellsmere. The railroad officially opened to the public on May 1, 1911, and ran four passenger trains daily with only two on Sunday, to and from Sebastian and Fellsmere. On January 23, 1913 the 12’ x 32’ Fellsmere Depot was opened for service, with Edward Nelson Fell, the founder of Fellsmere, purchasing the first ticket. The depot was built on the South side of the mainline north of the intersection of Broadway and South Carolina Ave. By April 1915, the railroad was extended another 6 miles west of Fellsmere to Broadmoor (a now non-existent town), In June 2, 1924 the Trans-Florida Central railroad (dubbed the “Dinky Line”) took over railroad operations. On November 30, 1952, the railroad officially ceased operations after 42 years of service.
Sponsors: Sponsored by the Indian River Historical Society, The Fellsmere Community Redevelopment Agency, and The Florida Department of State.