Florida: Other Historic Sites Summary

  • Last updated on November 10, 2022

This two-story frame house belonged to Mary McLeod Bethune (1875-1955), the civil rights leader, administrator, educator, adviser to presidents, and consultant to the United Nations; it is on the campus of the school she established in 1904. This was her home from its construction in the 1920’s until Bethune’s death.

Bethune Home

Location: Daytona Beach, Volusia County

Relevant issues: African American history, education, social reform

Statement of significance: This two-story frame house belonged to Mary McLeod Bethune (1875-1955), the civil rights leader, administrator, educator, adviser to presidents, and consultant to the United Nations; it is on the campus of the school she established in 1904. This was her home from its construction in the 1920’s until Bethune’s death.

Bok Tower Gardens

Location: Lake Wales, Polk County

Relevant issues: Cultural history, literary history

Statement of significance: Edward Bok’s Mountain Lake Sanctuary and Singing Tower were created as the ultimate gift he could present to the people of America, his adopted land. A native of the Netherlands, Bok came to fame as the editor of The Ladies’ Home Journal; he was also a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, local and national civic leader, and philanthropist. The Sanctuary and Tower were dedicated, on Bok’s behalf, for visitation by the American people by President Calvin Coolidge on February 1, 1929.

British Fort

Location: Sumatra, Franklin County

Relevant issues: African American history, American Indian history, military history

Statement of significance: This is the site of a fort established by the British in 1814 in conjunction with the War of 1812. After the war, the fort became known as “Negro Fort” because of the runaway slaves who occupied it. In 1816, the U.S. Army destroyed the fort, helping precipitate the First Seminole War. It also contains the site of Fort Gadsen, occupied by U.S. troops from 1818 to 1821.

Crystal River Site

Location: Crystal River, Citrus County

Relevant issues: American Indian history

Statement of significance: Consisting of ten temple, burial, shell, and sand mounds, Crystal River Site is a complex ceremonial center and burial site. Occupation at the site occurred during the Deptford, Weeden Island, and Safety Harbor prehistoric periods. This site has played a significant role in the development of archaeological method and theory by helping explain the relationship between early mound-building groups in the Gulf of Mexico coastal areas of Florida and the Hopewellian cultures in the Ohio River Valley. By focusing the debates in archaeological scholarship over the possibilities of direct communication between the Gulf Coast area of the Eastern United States and Mesoamerican cultures, Crystal River has also made significant contributions in the field of archaeology.

Dade Battlefield

Location: Bushnell, Sumter County

Relevant issues: American Indian history, military history

Statement of significance: This was the site of the first military confrontation of the Second Seminole War (1835-1842). It was symbolic of Chief Osceola’s concerted plan of resistance to President Andrew Jackson’s removal policies. It is now part of Dade Battlefield Memorial State Park.

Fort San Marcos De Apalache

Location: St. Marks, Wakulla County

Relevant issues: American Indian history, European settlement, military history

Statement of significance: This was the site of successive wooden and masonry fortifications occupied throughout the Spanish and British colonial periods, and by U.S. troops during the Second Seminole War. Capture of the Spanish fort by Andrew Jackson in 1818 was instrumental in events leading to the American acquisition of Florida in 1821.

Hurston House

Location: Fort Pierce, St. Lucie County

Relevant issues: African American history, literary history

Statement of significance: Zora Neale Hurston (1901-1960), writer, folklorist, and anthropologist, was the most noted black female writer of the mid-twentieth century. In addition to her four novels, two books of folklore, and an autobiography, Hurston wrote over fifty short stories and essays; her work, viewed by some as controversial, neither romanticized black folk life nor condemned it. Hurston lived in this little green house while working as a reporter and columnist for the Fort Pierce Chronicle in the final years of her life.

Maple Leaf

Location: Mandarin, Duval County

Relevant issues: Civil War, military history, naval history

Statement of significance: The sidewheeler Maple Leaf was designed and built in the Marine Railway Shipyard in Kingston, Ontario, and launched in 1851; it worked passenger routes on Lake Ontario prior to being chartered to the U.S. Army in 1862. As an Army transport, Maple Leaf steamed up and down the Eastern Seaboard from Virginia to Florida. Early on the morning of April 1, 1864, while returning to Jacksonville from Palatka, Florida, Maple Leaf struck a Confederate torpedo and sank quickly; five black crewmen sleeping on the foredeck above the explosion were killed instantly, but the remaining passengers and crew escaped into boats and were saved. During the day, Confederate artillery shelled the visible part of the wreck. After the war, the wreck was moved to deeper water, where it lay forgotten until 1984.

Mar-A-Lago

Location: Palm Beach, Palm Beach County

Relevant issues: Cultural history

Statement of significance: This sprawling, Mediterranean-style villa, home of Marjorie Merriweather Post, exemplifies the baronial way of life of the wealthy who built mansions in Florida during the Florida land boom of the 1920’s.

Miami-Biltmore Hotel and Country Club

Location: Coral Gables, Dade County

Relevant issues: Cultural history

Statement of significance: The Miami-Biltmore Hotel and Country Club, one of the most luxurious and modern hotels of its time, opened on January 14, 1926. Designed by the prominent New York architectural firm of Schulze and Weaver, the Miami-Biltmore is Coral Gables’ most notable reminder of the Florida land boom and is one of the most important monuments of this era in South Florida.

Okeechobee Battlefield

Location: Okeechobee, Okeechobee County

Relevant issues: American Indian history, military history

Statement of significance: Site of Zachary Taylor’s decisive victory on December 25, 1837, which marked the turning point in the Second Seminole War.

Pensacola Naval Air Station Historic District

Location: Pensacola, Escambia County

Relevant issues: Aviation history, military history, naval history

Statement of significance: Established in January, 1914, this was the first permanent U.S. naval air station, first Navy pilot training center, and first U.S. naval installation to send pilots into combat.

Plaza Ferdinand VII

Location: Pensacola, Escambia County

Relevant issues: Political history

Statement of significance: Site of the completion of the formal transfer of Florida from Spain to the United States on July 17, 1821. Andrew Jackson, as newly appointed governor, officially proclaimed the establishment of the Florida Territory.

Ponce de Leon Inlet Light Station

Location: 4931 South Peninsula Drive, Ponce Inlet, Volusia County

Relevant issues: Naval history

Statement of significance: The nation’s second-tallest brick lighthouse, this 175-foot tower was begun in 1884 to mark Mosquito Inlet on the Atlantic coast of Florida. The light station is significant for its association with federal efforts to provide an integrated system of navigational aids to ensure safe maritime transportation. Ponce de Leon is one of the nation’s best-preserved light stations, retaining not only its tower (complete with its original Fresnel first-order lens) but also its three keepers’ dwellings, oil house, and combination woodshed/privies. The light station has been restored and open to the public since 1982.

Safety Harbor Site

Location: Safety Harbor, Pinellas County

Relevant issues: American Indian history

Statement of significance: This site depicts a late prehistoric and early historic period, representing the Gulf coast Timucua Indian culture at the time of European contact.

Vizcaya

Location: Miami, Dade County

Relevant issues: Business and industry, cultural history

Statement of significance: Vizcaya, which means “an elevated place” in Basque, was completed in 1916 as the winter home for the industrialist James Deering (1859-1925), who made this a showplace of personal fantasy. Deering’s fortune was made in the production of farm machinery. A patron of the arts, Deering asked New York painter and designer Paul Chalfin to advise him on his plans for a Florida home; together, the two men created a mélange of Baroque, Rococco, Mannerist, and Louis XIV, adapted to a beach house in South Florida.

Ybor City Historic District

Location: Tampa, Hillsborough County

Relevant issues: Business and industry, Latino history

Statement of significance: Founded in 1886, Ybor City is significant in Spanish American and Cuban American immigration history. The district is also of importance in American industrial history, for it contains the largest collection of buildings related to the cigar industry in America and probably the world. In addition to factories, the district’s buildings include workers’ housing; the ethnic clubs organized by Ybor City’s immigrants, who included Italians and Germans as well as Cubans and Spaniards; and the commercial buildings that served the community. Most buildings date to the first two decades of the twentieth century. Historically, Ybor City was a rare multiethnic and multiracial industrial community in the Deep South and is highly illustrative of manifold aspects of the history of ethnic and race relations.

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