Port Mayaca’s Beautiful Gem, The Cypress Lodge, SLR/IRL

Historic Postcard courtesy of historian Sandra Henderson Thurlow.
Back of post card

If one drives to end of Kanner Highway adjacent to the C-44 Canal connecting the St Lucie River to Lake Okeechobee, there is a gem to see. A place that will take you back to an earlier time. The name of this place is the “Cypress Lodge,” in Port Mayaca.

According the “History of Martin County,” this beautiful lodge first opened its doors in 1938 and is *now operated by Mr and Mrs Charles Dorrell functioning as a resting stop for tired motorist crossing the state from north to south, or east to west.”

Page 253 reads: “The lodge, boasting an outstanding cellar, is colonial in design, built  originally as a tavern, has been operating ever since. The two-story all cypress building with a large dining room, is staffed mostly by residents of Pahokee, Canal Point, and surrounding towns. It is said more people work in Port Mayaca than live there.”

Just last week I learned that friend, and long time Stuart resident, Elsie Jean Stewart, has deep ties to the property as her parents were married there. She recently shared with me a wonderful family photo of the young couple. Their tremendous smiles in black in white were full of color. What days these must have been…

I recently drove out past the lodge on my way to Belle Glade while daydreaming what the area was like as in the mid-1800s between Seminole Wars. I saw a giant cypress forest full of wildlife and there was no dike around the lake, so from horseback, I could see over the wide expanse of  Lake Okeechobee….

Those things are gone and the lodge was built later, but it is still connected. I have been curious to see the structure as I have been missing it on my recent drives to Belle Glade. On my last trip, I figured out that at some point the historic Connors’ Highway had been rerouted so now at the Lake, one must turn north rather than south to see the familiar structure.

When I found the lodge, I took some photos to share. Still beautiful. Still timeless. I believe today it is a private residence. Thankfully it is still here and remains a gem of Martin County’s fascinating history around Lake Okeechobee.


Historic Register: http://www.waymarking.com/waymarks/WMAVCV_Cypress_Lodge__Port_Mayaca_FL

icon_maps_st_lucie basin canals
The Cypress Lodge and Port Mayaca are located west near S-308 at Lake Okeechobee. You can see the C-44’s connection from the Lake to the South Fork of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon. 

2-18-17: Correction!

Today I figured out, thanks to an article by the Luckhardts, that although not mentioned in the “History of Martin County” on page 252-3 , it was Paul M. Hoenshel of Miami who originally built and operated the lodge. Hoenshel is the grandfather of Elsie Jean Stewart whose “parents were married in the lodge” that I mention…. Jacqui

History Cypress Lodge by Alice and Greg Luckhardt: http://www.tcpalm.com/story/specialty-publications/your-news/martin-county/reader-submitted/2017/02/17/historical-vignettes-historic-cypress-lodge-port-mayaca/98056346/

4 thoughts on “Port Mayaca’s Beautiful Gem, The Cypress Lodge, SLR/IRL

  1. Thanks again for sharing interesting info about our community. Sounds like that house has some interesting stories as well.

  2. I’m excited to have found your article. I am the current owner of the old “Cypress Lodge”.
    Although my family and I currently reside here it’s my dream to one day reopen the Lodge and have it to pass to my children. For three years I’ve had the pleasure of hearing stories from people who stayed here or just stopped in for a ice cold drink. The stories are priceless and I’m a lucky woman to have found this Gen and have the opportunity to raise my children here with the aspiration to one day reopen and keep it in my family.
    Thank you for sharing your article.
    Kind regards,
    Kelly M. Reisert

    1. Is the Log Cabin still standing out back behind the lodge? My Ex Husband and I rented it back in 1976 when we first got married. I don’t remember the Ladies name that had the lodge back then but she knew I had to be at work before my husband got home. He got home 5 minutes after I left every morning and she would always walk out back and keep an eye on my 2 year old son until Mike pulled into the driveway. I loved the lodge!! Still do and have told my husband of 34 years that one day I would love to drive over and show it to him. I am so glad you want to reopen the Lodge!! As a Custom Decorator, I have always loved old buildings and have had a passion for them all my life. She is a grand old Dame who should be shared and enjoyed. Let me know if you ever have an open house or are open to the public! You could easily charge for viewings! Include a lunch or dinner and WOW your appointment book would fill up fast!

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