Fort Lauderdale



Entrance to Bonnet House

Chicago lawyer Hugh Taylor Birch was another early settler in the area. In 1895 he purchase the land on which Bonnet House now stands. In 1919 he gave the property as a wedding gift to his daughter Helen and her husband, Chicago artist Frederic Clay Bartlett. In 1920 they began construction of Bonnet House. Bartlett was a self-taught architect, and he designed the house along the lines of a Caribbean Plantation House. An art studio was included for Frederic and a music studio where Helen could compose music. It became their winter retreat until in 1925 Helen died of breast cancer. Frederic visited the house only rarely after her death until in 1931 he married Evelyn Fortune Lilly, the ex-wife of pharmaceutical industrialist Eli Lilly. Bonnet House once more became a winter residence and the Bartlett’s decorated the it in their style and filled it with art. Evelyn continued to use Bonnet House as her winter home after Frederic’s death in 1953 until she died in 1997.   In 1983 Evelyn deeded the property to the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation. Bonnet House is now open to the public and is also used to host private events such as weddings.  Photogarphs are not allowed inside the building, so we are able to show only exterior shots here.  Click Tab 2 to see the Bird Cage in the Courtyard of  Bonnet House or Tab 3 to see a Covered Walkway.


Fort Lauderdale Beach, FL, USA
New River Inn, Old Fort Lauderdale Village, Fort Lauderdale, FL, USA
Philemon Nathaniel Bryan House, Old Fort Lauderdale Village, Fort Lauderdale, FL, USA

Philemon Nathaniel Bryan House, Old Fort Lauderdale Village

Philemon Bryan and his wife Lucy lived in a wood frame house that had been that had been adapted to serve as the Bryan Hotel. That hotel was replaced by the New River Inn and while Edwin T. King was building the Inn he also built this Colonial Revival style house for them. Both the house and the Inn were built using locally made hollow concrete blocks. During World War II it housed for young women whose husbands were away on service. The house is now the oldest remaining masonry-built residential house in Fort Lauderdale. It is part of Old Fort Lauderdale Village and houses the offices of History Fort Lauderdale.

Entrance to Bonnet House, Fort Lauderdale, FL, USA
Stranahan House, Fort Lauderdale, FL, USA



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New River Inn, Old Fort Lauderdale Village

In 1905 Philemon Nathaniel Bryan from Jacksonville, Florida employed Edwin T. King to build a hotel in Fort Lauderdale. The 3-storey plantation-style structure was the first purpose-built hotel in the area. The 24 room hotel operated between 1905 and 1955. In 1972 New River Inn was the first  building in the area to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places. From 1976 to 1992 the Inn housed the Museum of Discovery and Science.  New River Inn now houses the museum of Old Fort Lauderdale Village, a collection of six historic buildings operated by History Fort Lauderdale. 

Stranahan House

Frank Stranahan from Ohio came to the area in January 1893 aged just 27 to manage his cousin’s camp and ferry at Tarpon Bend on the New River. He started trading with the Seminole Indians, who found that he traded fairly so soon the business was thriving.  In 1894 Frank acquired 4 hectares (10 acres) of land further west up the New River and relocated his trading post there. He was appointed postmaster and the trading post became the hub of the New River Settlement. In August 1900 Frank married schoolteacher Ivy Cromartie. With his business continuing to expand, Frank built Stranahan House in 1901 to house the trading post downstairs and a community hall upstairs. Come 1906, Frank had built a General Store and a Bank nearer to the station and Stranahan House was converted into a residence for Frank and his family.  After the collapse of the south Florida land boom and the hurricane in 1926 Frank was on the verge of ruin and his health deteriorated. In 1929 he committed suicide. To make ends meet, Ivy had to rent out rooms in Stranahan House and later she leased the lower floor to restaurants.  Ivy died in 1971 leaving the house to the Seventh Day Adventist Church. The Fort Lauderdale Historical Society purchased the house in 1975 and in 1980 started to restore the house back to the way it would have looked in 1915. Stranahan House opened to the public as a historic house museum in 1984. Click on Tab 2 to see the Main Bedroom of the house.

Fort Lauderdale Beach

The beach at Fort Lauderdale looks very similar to other beaches on the east coast of Florida. The beach is on a barrier island and the waterway behind the island forms part of the Intracoastal Waterway that allows shipping to navigate the US east coast sheltered from the open Atlantic Ocean.  In 1920, Fort Lauderdale began clearing the mangroves and building a network of parallel canals extending inland. The canals created ‘finger islands’ that have became synonymous with the city.Click Tab 2 to see a view of downtown Fort Lauderdale acress the Intracoastal Waterway from the Hyatt Regency Pier 66.

- A lot of historical buildings of very different types
- Apart from the threat of hurricanes, nothing
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When Florida was a colony neither the Spanish nor the British settled in the southern tip. The land there was hot, swampy and only accessible by sea. After the US took control of Florida a few settlers arrived. By 1830 there were about 70 people in what was then known as the New River Settlement. In 1835 a dispute with the local Seminole Indians led to settlers killing a chief called Alibama and by the end of the year reprisals by the Indians had triggered the Second Seminole War. In 1838 a stockade called Fort Lauderdale was built as a base to for US troops fighting the war but it was abandoned in 1842 after the war ended. The settlement  continued to be sparsely populated until in 1893 Frank Stranahan arrived. He operated a ferry across the New River and built a house that also served as a trading post, post office, bank and hotel. In 1896 the the Florida East Coast Railway extended its line south from West Palm Beach to Miami, and suddenly the New River Settlement was accessible overland. It changed its name to Fort Lauderdale, becoming incorporated in 1911 and the Broward county seat in 1915.  The south Florida land boom of the 1920s resulted in explosive growth until the boom collapsed in 1926 followed by a devastating hurricane. After the depression, Fort Lauderdale began to grow again with its population doubling between 1930 and 1940. After World War II, growth returned and modern day Fort Lauderdale is a winter resort with a population of more than 180,000.    



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