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Posts Tagged ‘Fort Pierce’

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This go-round will look at the rest of US 1 and A1A between Brevard and Palm Beach Counties. That being Vero Beach to Jupiter. Three counties: St. Lucie County and Martin County, and the northern smidge of Palm Beach. The upper part will mostly be along US 1, with a jaunt or two over to A1A. At some points along the way, the two roads are concurrent.

South from Vero Beach, go down US 1. You’ll be seeing more dunes and scrub between cities. I’m rather surprised that the great Miami Megacity (which to me is Dade and Broward and Palm Beach counties on the east coast) hasn’t gobbled it’s way further north. Maybe in part because there’s a big honking state park and a National Wildlife Refuge in the way above Jupiter.

After you’re in St. Lucie County, you’ll pass by the entrance to the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute. Check out the Harbor Branch Discovery Center there, which is free and open to the public. Normally I don’t go into museums, but for some reason I felt like peeking inside. It’s not big, basically a large room. But there are some cool displays and live aquatic critters. An employee will come up to you and show you around, and answer all your questions.

From there, get to St. Lucie Boulevard and go west. You’ll get to Casa Caprona, which is now an apartment complex. Way further west is a house/estate known as Immokolee. But it’s another of those that all you’ll see is the driveway, so I’d say it’s not worth the drive. Unless, like me, you’re OCD about visiting NRHPs. (see Google map)

Should you want to see a string of fancy older homes, visit the St. Lucie Village Historic District. It’s the former site of Fort Capron, which was the successor to Fort Pierce. There’s a historical marker that marks the site. The fort was built in the mid 1800s and has been gone for a long time. The houses antedate the fort, so I don’t think they’re directly related to each other. More like that there’s a great view of the ocean here, and folks do love their waterfront property. Near the south end (which is the best place to start) is the house of a former Pennsylvania senator, who wintered here. (see Google map)

Next is one of those A1A jaunts. First, though, stop at the city park to see the CeeCee Ross Lyles memorial. She was a stewardess on Flight 93 and perished along with all the other passengers and crew on 9/11. The county history museum is nearby, supposedly, but I couldn’t find it. I didn’t look super-hard, though.

Cross the North Beach Causeway Bridge to get to A1A and two beachy state parks, Fort Pierce Inlet State Park and Avalon State Park. The former has a ranger station and lots of parking, so it’s probably well-used. Avalon only has a parking area next to the beach, but it looks pretty popular too. Between is the Navy Seal Museum. Also Jack Island Park, which is close to the site of the wreck of the Urca de Lima, the first Florida Underwater Archaeological Preserve. That park may be closed, so Avalon State Park may be an option if you want to cast your gaze towards the Urca de Lima. (see Google map)

Back on shore, if you want to see the only NHL in the area, go to the Zora Neale Hurston House. It’s only notable because it was her home. It’s the dullest NHL building in the state. For a few years I used to live in a place rather like it. There’s no parking available anywhere close, not even on the street. I was content with just driving by slowly and taking some pictures from the car.

Now you can go to downtown Fort Pierce, where there are quite a few historic and interesting looking buildings. Could be a historic district, but isn’t. The buildings are somewhat spread out, so you’ll need to park at three or so different spots if you want to walk to them all in a reasonable amount of time. Then there are a couple that are a bit further out. Both are schools, the old St. Anastasia Catholic School and St. Lucie High School. Only the latter is still in use. (see Google map)

This is the eastern end of the old Florida Cracker Trail, the western end being in Bradenton. There’s an annual festival in February celebrating it, with people walking and riding from Bradenton to here. I can’t find where they end up, but I don’t doubt that if you’re in town you won’t have a problem finding it.

Head south on South Indian River Drive so you can get to Fort Pierce. That is, the site of the original fort after which the city was named. It’s now part of Old Fort Park. There’s a moderate sized mound in it, but I don’t know if it contains any remains of the structure. It’s a small park, but pleasant and restful.

You can jog west to the pale pink Mediterranean Revival Jules Frere House. I wouldn’t recommend going to the Hammond House, though, since the only thing you’ll see from the street is pasture. (see Google map)

Get back to South Indian River Drive. A nice drive, with older homes along the way on the right, and the Indian River Lagoon on the left. I wonder if it used to be part of A1A, since it kind of feels like that when you’re on it. If you can drive it from Fort Pierce down to Stuart, it’s a lovely way to spend an hour or two. You could also take A1A on the other side of the Lagoon. I’ve not driven that part, but it looks like it’d be scenic too.

You’ll pass through Ankona, which may have been a happening place in the past. Now it’s pretty much a road sign at either end. There are some classy old houses through here that are listed in AGFHA. If you want to do more than drive past, parking off the road on the grass is your only option. And there aren’t a lot of places with enough room, so keep the eyes peeled. The last two houses are just south of the turnoff for the state park at the south end for the county. Up to you what order to see them all. Also note that the Eden House isn’t easily visible from the road, even if you’re walking, due to lots of foliage. (see Google map)

  • Adams House (2501 South Indian River Drive) (AGFHA)
  • Hugh West Home (2507 South Indian River Drive) (AGFHA)
  • Padrick House (2513 South Indian River Drive) (AGFHA)
  • Capt. John Miller House (12387 South Indian River Drive) (AGFHA)
  • Eden House (13055 South Indian River Drive) (AGFHA)

Take a right at Southeast Walton Road to get to the last spot for this post, Savannas Preserve State Park. I think there’s another entrance further north, but I’m not sure. You’ll find a visitor center inside the park with displays and such. This is one of the walking/hiking/riding parks. It doesn’t extend all the way east, so no beaches. Only just miles and miles of miles and miles. So you won’t have hordes of people traipsing around, if you want a less social park experience. (see Google map)

That’s St. Lucie County. Next week, Martin County. Until then, see you on the road!

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The Pitts Furniture Company store is in downtown Fort Pierce. It was built in 1882, and purchased by the Pitts family in 1935. It is included in “A Guide to Florida’s Historic Architecture”. See more photos here.

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