Venice

Winter 2015

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WELCOME INN IN RETROSPECT The New River Inn represents a window into the past. BY PATRICIA ZEILER THE FORT LAUDERDALE HISTORICAL SOCIETY RETAINS ALL RIGHTS TO THE REPRODUCTION Between 1894 and 1895, Henry Flagler wintered at his West Palm Beach resort, the same spot where his Florida East Coast Railway tracks ended. Flagler had initially decided not to build further south, but that devastating winter and the total loss of all crops north of Broward County changed his mind. In the spring, Flagler called on his old friend, Philemon Bryan, and Bryan's two sons, Tom and Reed, to build a new section of his railroad south to the New River. The Bryans worked fast, and by February 1896 the first passenger train arrived in Fort Lauderdale. The train station was built where the railroad met the New River, today's Las Olas Riverfront. As farming was the main industry in those days, the produce yards at the train station were bustling with activity. To be closer to the commerce, Frank Stranahan relocated his trading post, now a general store, to just east of the station. Directly across the tracks, a small, 24-room hotel called the New River Inn—complete with the then-luxury of indoor plumbing—was erected, where it remained in operation until 1955. Today, the New River Inn, Broward's first building listed in the National Register of Historic Places, is the cornerstone of Fort Lauderdale's historic district and home to History Museum Fort Lauderdale's permanent and transitional exhibits. The Fort Lauderdale Historical Society is the caretaker of the district, which also includes the King-Cromartie House, the Ivy Cromartie replica schoolhouse, the Philemon Bryan House and the Hoch Library & Research Center. Thousands of Broward students visit the museum every year to learn about the region's history, archaeology, engineering, native Tequesta and Seminole people, Spanish explorers and early pioneer life. In addition, there are authors-in-residence, dozens of volunteers and an active women's auxiliary. The museum's collections include photographs, historic maps and thousands of artifacts from prehistoric time through the present. It's a chance for the next generation to experience Fort Lauderdale, then and now, where the railroad meets the New River. v TRACING THE TRACKS When it was built in 1905, the New River Inn was considered a state-of-the-art hotel, complete with indoor plumbing. Today, it stands as a museum filled with relics of Fort Lauderdale's rich past. 216 Venice

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