Tag Archives: 1907

The Once Beach-Jungle of Hutchinson Island

Looking south in the direction of today’s St Lucie Inlet. Former home of Hiram and Hattie Olds, 1907, Hutchinson Island, in what became Martin County, Fl. Courtesy Agnes Tietig Parlin, achieves Sandra Henderson Thurlow and Deanna Wintercorn “Gilbert’s Bar House of Refuge, Home of History.” 

Olds Homestead Hutchinson Island, 1862

The more I learn about water, the more I want to know about the land. Inexorably connected – as the lands change, so do the surrounding waters. 

Don’t you love this above photograph?

The lone high-house rising through thick vegetation reminds us of what the beach-scape of today’s Hutchinson Island, Martin County, Florida, used to look like. Cradled between the Atlantic Ocean and the Indian River Lagoon, the home belonged to Hiram E. and Hattie Olds who made application for homestead with the United States Government in the early Florida year of 1862. The photo above spotlights the natural beauty and native vegetation; it was taken in 1907 – forty-five years after the original homestead. With almost a half century passed, like a protective cape over the sandy dunes, the Indian River Lagoon/Hutchinson Island vegetation remained in tact. What an incredible and rare photograph! It almost feels like Africa or some far-off exotic place. 

There must have been so many hiding places for birds and other wildlife. Rain percolating through sandy soils to ocean and estuary. Only a shadow of this vegetation remains today, although Hutchinson Island remains a beautiful place. 

This second photograph reveals the same house in the distance, the Olds’ homestead, granted in 1862-but structure built ca. 1894 -that later became the Yacht Club. From this perspective we are now looking south from the House of Refuge -built in 1876.  It is clear from this Thurlow Archives photograph that  the Georges Valentine shipwreck had recently occurred thus this photograph must have been taken around October 16, 1904 – the fateful night of the ship’s destruction. Again, look at the thick high curve of vegetation along the western edge of the Indian River Lagoon. Fabulous! 

With these 1904 and 1907 photographs we can, for a moment, go back and imagine what Hutchinson Island looked like. It was not just an Anastasia rocked shoreline, but a Beach-Jungle! A jungle that protected wildlife and waters of our precious Indian River Lagoon. 

In our next blog post, we shall learn how the Olds homestead and the House of Refuge were “connected,” not just via fantastic vegetation, rocks, and dune lines, but also through claims of property rights  to the United States Government. 


If you are interested in restoring native beach vegetation please see this link. It is a great way to help our wildlife and our waters. 



When East Ocean Blvd. was Just a “Rock Road”

Rock Road, Stuart, Martin County, FL ca. 1907. Courtesy archives Sandra Henderson Thurlow.

“This is thought to be our school house where the courthouse is today. So this would be today’s South East Ocean Boulevard. I would say the year is about 1907.” Mom

This quaint photograph is a far cry from what one sees toady. It was taken along the well traveled South East Ocean Boulvard near today’s Martin County Court House. The photo is believed to have been taken around 1907 and reveals that the area was a sand pine habitat with an understory of palmettos and other scrub like plants. These sandy soils are ancient sandbars. They remain today under inches of fill, floratam grass, and pavement.


They are interesting because we are traveling along them “all the time.”

According to the History of Martin County one of the reasons there were rumbling in our area, starting around 1915, -to brake away from Palm Beach County- was that there were no paved roads:

The book states on page 441: “There were no paved roads, for example, between Stuart and Indiantown, or between Jensen and Stuart, or from Palm City to Tequesta. The roads that had been built were narrow “shell” roads. ~By the middle 20s then citizens of this area were tired of getting stuck in the sand. They decided the only way they would get good roads was to break away and form their own county.”

Which they did in 1925. (https://jacquithurlowlippisch.com/tag/counties-florida/)

Personally, I would enjoy it  if we had left a few more “Rock Roads.” I find this photo above relaxing and absolutely beautiful! Rock over Pavement! 🙂


Google Earth map of 2019. SE Ocean can be seen just south of wide St Lucie River. There are maybe three sand pine trees left.


The Long Forgotten Wetlands of East Ocean Blvd. https://jacquithurlowlippisch.com/2017/05/19/the-long-forgotten-wetlands-of-east-ocean-boulevard-slrirl/

Lover’s Lane, Today’s US1:https://jacquithurlowlippisch.com/tag/todays-us1/

*Today this habitat is endangered as most all sand pine scrub types along Florida’s east coast have been developed. Certainly, prior to development, there were many scrub jays and gopher turtles that had lived and adapted to changes in this area for thousands of years

WWF Sand Pine Scrub: https://www.worldwildlife.org/ecoregions/na0513

Antique Stuart, Fl postcard ca. early 1900s, with native Sand Pines, courtesy Sandra Henderson Thurlow.

Photo of Downtown Stuart area. The house now is owned by the law offices of John Sherrard. This is 6th Street. Note sand pines and white sand. The building being constructed is today a yoga studio 2019. Photo courtesy of Sandra Henderson Thurlow.