“Holding on to the Old Ways,” Pitchford Camp~Still Alive Today, SLR/IRL

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Boo Lowery

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Courtesy of “Historic Jensen and Eden of Florida’s Indian River,” Sandra Henderson Thurlow

When I was kid growing up in Stuart, I remember seeing a lot of cottages. I loved these structures ~so simple, efficient, and adorable too. I remember cottages at Frances Langford’s Outrigger Resort just north of Sewall’s Point;  I remember cottages in Rio along Dixie Highway; and I recall the cottages along Indian River Drive in Jensen at the old Pitchford Camp. Somehow the more run down they were, the cooler they appeared. A reminder of days long past before Martin County developed and we were all brainwashed of the need to build bigger houses and complicate our lives.

Today, when one hears the name “Pitchford,” one may envision a Martin County Commission embroiled in a decade of controversy, but this wasn’t always the case. In fact in the early 1900s the name “Pitchford” was a family name that defined “good times” of fishing, dancing, and playing shuffle board along the beautiful and healthy Indian River Lagoon.

Recently, I was invited by long time friend of my parents, Boo Lowery, to see his modern-day, old-fashioned, fish camp.  Boo, himself, an “old-timer” is related to many of the early families of the Stuart area. Boo’s career as a respected contractor working closely with famed architect, Peter Jefferson, allowed him to become an expert in building, moving, and renovating homes.

In the 1980s when the cottages at Pitchford Camp were going to be demolished, Boo, who along with his wife Soo is a “lover of all things vintage” stepped in and saved five of the Pitchford Camp cottages. Over time, the little structures have been moved alongside land where a “borrow pit” (dug to build part of I-95) was located. This hole in the ground, today, is a serene pond in the middle of a pine forest, and a living museum housing the Pitchford cottages and of a way of life along our waterways that no longer exists.

It was so much fun going to Boo and Soo’s and today I am sharing some of my photos. While eating hush puppies and alligator, I told my husband, Ed,  “I could live in one these cottages.” That I wanted to live in one of these cottages! He looked at me like I was out of my mind… Perhaps, he thinks I’m too soft and spoiled by “progress.” Maybe I’m dreaming, but I think I’d love it. I think I’d be as “happy as a clam…”

In any case, enjoy the photos of this very special place and thank you Boo and Soo for holding on to the old ways and for keeping  our Indian River Lagoon history alive.

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“Robert McClinton, “Doc, ” Pitchford was the only remaining Pitchford brother after Herbert’s death in 1988. When Doc died in December 2001, it was the end of an era. Doc tried to hold on to the old ways and was quite successful. The Pitchford holdings were like a time capsule surrounded by computer-age progress. Although most of the original Pitchford Camp cabins were demolished….”

Boo saved a few!

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(Excerpt and photo below from my mother, Sandra Henderson Thurlow’s book “Historic Eden and Jensen on Florida’s Indian River.”

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Pitchford Camp, Jensen ca. 1930s

 

13 thoughts on ““Holding on to the Old Ways,” Pitchford Camp~Still Alive Today, SLR/IRL

  1. Thanks Jacqui…My love for Martin County, especially JB, goes back to 1966 when I started coming to snook fish. I was Sunday Editor of Florida TODAY newspaper and snook fishing was my passion. So much that I built a weekend home in Rustic Hills and Boo Lowry and Bill Scammel bid on it. Bill built it, and I would come on weekends a pull snook from every eddy. Ended up moving there full time as owner/operator of Corner Toys in the K mart shopping center. I loved Palm City, and devoted a year of my life as one of the key players, along with Kathy Dewindt, drumming up money and volunteers to build the Palm City Elementary School Robert Leathers playground. Oh, the memories…took kingfish to Mrs. Peters…she kept half and gave me the other half, deliciously smokes.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Ron, thanks so much for writing. Your recollections sound so familiar and I thank you for all you did for our wonderful corner of the world. Being Sunday Editor must have been great at that time especially! All the best. Jacqui

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  2. Received the article about the Pitchford camp from my husbands cousin …..my husband and his cousin are Pitchford’s ….can you tell me where this camp was/is located. Great pictures…we live in Stuart and cousin lives in Winter Garden

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  3. Jacqui, I always appreciate your informative and interesting blogs. This one might be my favorite. Having grown up in south Dade County I dont know a lot of the local history. I have seen this camp from the I-95 for the last 15 years. I even stopped and looked from the fence. I’ve known there was a story to them since they are so rustic and original. And to me just cool. Love the old stuff and I would imagine that where they were on IRL there was some colorful history being made. Great stuff and thanks for sharing memories and teaching us foreigners.

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  4. The airstream trailer in the center of picture looks just like the home I was born in(60 years ago) in west Melbourne. My dad was a fish guide on week ends out of camp Holly. He had a reliable Evenrude 9.9 hp boat motor. There was no bottled water. Everyone had a laddle on their boat and drank from the st. johns river. I remember once my dad hooked me in the head with one of his home made plugs and I cried because I did NOT waunt to go home. We could still fish until dark and then go to the doctor. A lifetime of wonderfull child hood memories—-no wonder kids are such a mixed up mess these days.

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  5. Facebook Friend comments:

    Gayle Ryan Marty Baum Alice L. Luckhardt 🤓
    Unlike · Reply · 1 · 11 hrs · Edited
    Bill Spyrison
    Bill Spyrison This is perfectly written
    Unlike · Reply · 2 · 11 hrs
    Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch
    Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch Thank you Bill. 😊
    Like · Reply · 8 hrs
    Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch

    Write a reply…

    Nyla Pipes
    Nyla Pipes Love this!!!
    Unlike · Reply · 1 · 11 hrs
    Rebecca Fatzinger
    Rebecca Fatzinger YAY!!..I was sickened when those adorablle little cottages were gone..so happy to see they survived…I think a couple of other ones from there are in Edenlawn Plantation now..2 or 3…..are the little cottages in your pic accessable to the public?..would love to see them….but anyway..thanks for the great article
    Unlike · Reply · 1 · 10 hrs
    Chris Phoenix
    Chris Phoenix Many of us that didn’t grow up here but have been here a while appreciate your love of the way things were .Great article Jacqui
    Unlike · Reply · 2 · 10 hrs
    Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch
    Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch Thx Chris. We were all here in a wavy. Just somewhere else.😊
    Like · Reply · 8 hrs · Edited
    Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch
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    Brian Sullivan
    Brian Sullivan Where are the cottages now Jacqui ?
    Unlike · Reply · 1 · 9 hrs · Edited
    Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch
    Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch Brian look right under the I95 symbol. The cottages are there. They can be seen from I95 It’s private property through an easement off of Citrus. Boo would take you there I sure.
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    Like · Reply · 8 hrs · Edited
    Brian Sullivan
    Brian Sullivan Thanks- I was just curious having not known about them
    Unlike · Reply · 1 · 7 hrs
    Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch
    Write a reply…

    Darby Munroe
    Darby Munroe I talked to him at length one day, when I was volunteering at the Road to Victory Military Museum, which coincidentally was a building from the Camp Murphy site at JD State park. I am so glad I got to see these pictures, they were just like he describ…See More
    Unlike · Reply · 1 · 9 hrs
    Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch
    Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch So very cool Darby!
    Like · Reply · 1 · 8 hrs
    Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch
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    Nicole Lebel
    Nicole Lebel Any relation to a Wade Lowery? And I remember seeing the little shacks sprinkled on the drive when going to the beach.
    Unlike · Reply · 1 · 7 hrs
    Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch
    Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch I am not sure but I know he has sons. I met them and they were very nice.
    Like · Reply · 1 min
    Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch
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    Linda McLendon
    Linda McLendon My grandparents came to visit us in Jensen Beach and stayed at the Pitchford’s renting one of the cottages – and they are not too far from where I live off Citrus — Who knew? 🙂
    Unlike · Reply · 1 · 7 hrs · Edited
    Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch
    Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch 😄very wonderful I’m sure
    Like · Reply · 1 · 7 hrs
    Linda McLendon
    Linda McLendon Wonder if Boo has any of my father’s artwork — Jay Kendall — he gave most of his work away – had a few paintings in the Elliott Museum when I was about 12 or 13 years old 🙂
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    Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch
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    Pam Autrey
    Pam Autrey I remember all the little cottages and also Eden lawn very well
    Unlike · Reply · 1 · 4 hrs
    Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch
    Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch That’s right. Eden’s cottages were off the chart wonderful, hidden in the jungle of Eden…
    Like · Reply · 4 hrs
    Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch
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    Nicole Lebel
    Nicole Lebel I showed my husband the pics and he got all excited…. “I’ve been there, I’ve been out there!” so I found my answer! Lol 🙂 My husband often works for Wade.
    Like · Reply · 2 hrs
    Mike Glynn
    Mike Glynn Wow, great story and I love the cottages also. Thanks always!!
    Unlike · Reply · 1 · 2 hrs
    Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch
    Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch Thanks Mike! The cottages are just great.
    Like · Reply · Just now
    Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch

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    Mike Glynn
    Mike Glynn And Thank You Boo for saving them!
    Unlike · Reply · 1 · 2 hrs
    Holly Hyatt
    Holly Hyatt I love hearing about my friends and “old timers” !
    Unlike · Reply · 1 · 1 hr

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  6. Notice the(what looks to be ) shell single lane road in the picture. In 1927 Malibar Shcoolhouse was built. Driveing west on Malibar road I noticed what looked to be an old road that had been exsposed where a canal cut across—2 and a half miles from old schoolhouse. I walked over and looked —sure enough the road bed of the original road was coquina. I will add this to the over wealming evidence as to what happened to the lagoon. I believe in 1900 people used what was most available to pave our roads and that happened to be the coquina formations that once lined our lagoons shores.

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