Historic Stranahan House in Fort Lauderdale – Decorated for the Holidays!

Decorated for the Holidays!During the Christmas on Las Olas event we had the opportunity to visit Stranahan House.  Built in 1901 of Dade County pine, the historic Stranahan House is Broward County’s oldest standing structure!  If you didn’t already know, it was home to Frank and Ivy Stranahan, two of the area’s earliest settlers.  Between 1901 and 1906 it served as a trading post, town hall, bank and post office.  Frank started out by running a ferry service across the New River when he met Ivy Julia Cromartie, who served as Fort Lauderdale’s first school teacher (and later became founder of “Friends of the Seminoles”).

Holiday Decorations in Fort LauderdaleSince 1973, the house has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  In 1979, the Fort Lauderdale Historical Society took possession and together with the Fort Lauderdale Area Board of Realtors (now known as the Realtor Association of Greater Fort Lauderdale), began a careful restoration of the historic home, which is an example of Florida vernacular architecture.  By clicking on the link below, you can take a virtual stroll through the Stranahan House with its period furnishings and see it beautifully decorated for the holidays (by Flowers and Found Objects, a Fort Lauderdale florist) with red bows, garlands, a lighted Christmas tree and poinsettias by the fireplace.

:: Click to View a Virtual Tour of Stranahan House. ::

Historic Fort Lauderdale HomeStranahan House is located a block south of Las Olas Boulevard (directly on the New River) at 335 SE 6th Avenue, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301.  Visit the official Stranahan House site for directions, hours, tours, admission rates, history and more, or phone them at 954-524-4736. Parking is available next door at the Riverside Parking Garage.

In recent years, Stranahan House has had some legal challenges due to the proposed Icon Las Olas (a 42-story luxury high-rise condo building that would be built on the old Hyde Park Market site at 500 E. Las Olas Boulevard, next to Stranahan House).  If built, Icon would become the tallest building in Fort Lauderdale.


The New River Tunnel in Fort Lauderdale

Fort Lauderdale's New River TunnelIf you’ve ever driven around the downtown Fort Lauderdale area, chances are you’ve driven through the Henry E. Kinney Tunnel, more popularly known as the New River Tunnel.  Actually, it goes under not only the New River but also Las Olas Boulevard on the north side and S. New River Dr./N. Rio Vista Blvd. on the south side.  The photo was taken at the south entrance looking north.  The buildings you see are the SunTrust building on the left and the Riverside Hotel on the right.  It’s a 4-lane tunnel and pedestrians can use it as well since there is a sidewalk on the east side.

The New River Tunnel, which took the place of an inefficient drawbridge that at times caused massive traffic jams, took just over two years to be completed and opened in December 1960.  In 1986 the tunnel was renamed in honor of Henry E. Kinney who was one of the strongest advocates for the construction of the tunnel (instead of a new drawbridge) during his time as editor of the Fort Lauderdale/Broward edition of the Miami Herald. 

TRIVIA:  Only two other underwater tunnels exist in Florida and they are in Walt Disney World in Orlando.

The Tequesta Trail at Forest Ridge in Davie, Florida

trail signPart of the Tequesta Trail can be found in the residential neighborhood of Forest Ridge in Davie, FL.  At one point along the winding road that is shaded by a canopy of live oak trees just past Forest Ridge’s grand main entrance, there is a sign marker that is sponsored by the Archeological and Historical Conservancy which reads:

“The Tequesta Indians and their ancestors inhabited Pine Island from circa 3000 BC through 1500 AD.  The Tequesta inhabited southeast Florida from Boca Raton southward to Key West.  Historians estimate that as many as 20,000 Indians may have lived in South Florida before they became extinct from diseases contracted from Europeans.

On August 31, 1989, archeologists unearthed during road construction the remains of a Tequesta Village at this site.  Near this sign are the remains of an ancient Tequesta settlement that is at least 2,000 years old.”

Resources worth checking out:

Davie Canoe Landing – a bit of Davie, FL History

Davie, Florida is a town that is full of history and proud of it, as evidenced in part by historical markers and the town’s desire to maintain a “western” theme throughout its downtown area along Davie Road between SW 39th St. and Griffin Road.  It is because of the Town of Davie’s residents strong desire to maintain their heritage that the Davie Area Land Trust exists.  You’ll find the Davie Canoe Landing (pictured below) on Orange Drive (which is parallel to Griffin Road), about a block or two west of Davie Road, and just steps from the Davie Town Hall.

Davie, Florida History

The plaque on the Davie Canoe Landing reads as follows:

“This historic canal site was Davie’s first canoe and barge landing.  Nicknamed the Venice of America, Broward County canals were the lifeblood of the community, controlling flooding, nourishing the land and providing settlers with vital transportation links.  Early residents of Davie used these canals to transport goods and produce to the railroads in the east.  We dedicate this site to Davie’s early pioneers who labored in the past to create this peaceful place.”

Davie FL History

(The backside as seen from across the South New River Canal.)

Silver Thatch Mounted Beach Patrol

Sometimes you can drive down the same street dozens of times before you notice something that’s been there for a long time.  That was the case with the following historical marker that I took a photo of the other day.  It’s located along N. Riverside Drive in Pompano Beach and I was glad I finally noticed it because it offers some interesting tidbits of the history of that area of Pompano Beach. 

The recreational area encompassed by Colony Club Road is considered a Florida Heritage Site and the historical marker is sponsored by the Fort Lauderdale Historical Society and the Florida Department of State.  Apparently, the marker was erected in 2002.  For ease of reading, I’ve included the text of this historical marker below the photo.

Silver Thatch Mounted Beach Patrol

“The recreation area encompassed by Colony Club Road, during World War II (1941-1945) , was the site of the corrals and paddocks for the United States Coast Guard’s Silver Thatch Mounted Beach Patrol.  The mounted beach patrol protected the coast from U-boat activity and saboteurs.  The location of the Beach Patrol headquarters was the site of the Old Silver Thatch Inn, which was built by the Jelks family c. 1930s.  When the Coast Guard requsitioned the property in 1942, stables, corrals and a paddock were built behind the hotel, which served as headquarters for the unit and barracks for the men.  Starting the eight-hour duty at 4 P.M. , the unit patrolled from Hillsboro Inlet to Port Everglades.  In 1945, the unit was decommissioned and the hotel was returned to civilian control.  In 1954, Ed Stack, who later became Broward County Sheriff, and then was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, purchased the property and started the Bath and Tennis Club of Pompano Beach on the site.  The hotel was torn down in 1972, when the Silver Thatch Atlantic Plaza was built on the property.  The recreational area remains because of a 1962 deed restriction, which precludes any building on the parcel.”

The Sewell Lock and Broward County’s Canal System

Sewell LockThe Sewell Lock is one of those sights seen by thousands of drivers along I-595 on a daily basis but mostly goes unnoticed.  It is located on the N. New River Canal near the intersection of Davie Road and S.R. 84 and is part of the canal system run by the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD).  The Sewell Lock was completed in 1912 and is Broward County’s oldest water control structure. 

waterBroward County’s canal system is all about water management via a complex network of canals and operational infrastructure managed for both drainage and recharge purposes.  Curious?  Learn more about how the water flow system works.  Water management in Broward County is so important that a free half-day “Know the Flow” course has been developed to help Broward County property managers, landscape service providers, as well as Broward County homeowner associations and residents understand what they can do to manage and conserve water resources.

If you happen to be in the area and would like an up-and-close view, there is a small park located immediately next to the Sewell Lock where you can occassionally find people fishing.  There is a plaque at the park that reads:


These gates were restored by the South Florida Water Management District in 1992 as part of the G-54 Sewell Water Control structure replacement project.  The lock has been preserved as a historical site in cooperation with the Broward County Commission, the Broward County Park and Recreation Division, the Broward County Historical Commission and the Green Team.

Florida State Facts – a Bit of Trivia


  • FloridaFlorida Capital: Tallahassee
  • Number of Counties in Florida: 67
  • Florida became the 27th state of the U.S. in 1845.
  • The estimated population of Florida as of 2006 is just over 18 million
    and approximately 1,000 people move to Florida every day!
  • Florida is the 4th most populated state in the U.S.
  • Florida’s Major Industries: tourism is first, followed by agriculture,
    then banking, electronics, plastics, construction, and real estate.
  • Florida has 1197 miles of coastline and 663 miles of beaches.
  • The highest point in Florida is Britton Hill which is located in Lakewood, FL 
    (Walton County) and is Florida’s highest elevation at 345 feet above sea level.
  • Florida’s geographic center is 12 miles NW of Brooksville, FL (Hernando County).
  • The St. Johns River (the longest river in Florida) measures 273 miles.
  • Lake Okeechobee (the largest lake in Florida) is 700 square miles.
  • .