While New Smyrna Beach is known around the world as a beautiful beach destination that keeps visitors coming back year after year, many may not realize that the area has a vibrant history since its founding in 1768. The area also has the rare distinction of being the second oldest city in Florida! History buffs will be fascinated to discover treasures left behind its original settlers- both British and Native Americans, and many unique historical sites.
As early as 2,000 B.C., Timucuan Native Americas inhabited the area of New Smyrna Beach. By the time Dr. Andrew Turnbull, a Scottish physician and entrepreneur had settled in the area, the Timucuan population had almost vanished. Dr. Andrew Turnbull named the area “New Smyrna” in honor of his wife, whose birthplace was Smyrna, Asia Minor, now known as Izmir, Turkey. In 1947, “New Smyrna” became “New Smyrna Beach,” when the city annexed the seaside community of Coronado Beach.
Below we have highlighted a few of the can’t miss historical sites to check out on your next visit to New Smyrna Beach.
New Smyrna Beach Museum of History
Begin your journey through New Smyrna Beach’s rich history with a visit to the New Smyrna Beach Museum of History. History buffs will love the opportunity to explore the area’s unique history which is preserved and on display at the New Smyrna Museum of History. An engaging experience for all ages, a visit to the museum is a must for visitors and residents. Native American artifacts, railroad memorabilia, and pictures of life 100 years ago are just some of the exhibits. The newest exhibit is the New Smyrna Beach Surfing Exhibit which features historic photographs, surfboards, artifacts, memorabilia, and more. The museum is currently closed; however, they are offering private access and tours on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday with a $50.00 minimum donation requirement. To book a private tour, please send them an email at NSMofHistory@gmail.com or call the museum at 386-478-0052.
Sugar Mill Ruins
Head to the Sugar Mill Ruins next for a blast from the past. The Sugar Mill Ruins were built to make sugar during the 1800s and were once part of the Cruger-dePeyster Plantation. However, the mill, sugar plantations and all buildings were destroyed during the war between the Seminole Indians and the United States. Visitors can explore the 17-actre historic site that contains the ruins of the coquina sugar factory and take some photos worthy of Instagram!
Old Fort Park
If you’re near New Smyrna’s downtown area, be sure to look out for Old Fort Park, the mysterious 40-by-80-foot coquina ruins, reminiscent of St. Augustine’s Castillo de San Marcos, that overlook the Intracoastal Waterway. This rock foundation has an unknown origin and purpose, however, is believed by some to be the home of Dr. Turnbull. It is also located just blocks away from Old Stone Wharf on Riverside Drive, a 1770s era landmark where a significant maritime Civil War battle was fought. Lucky visitors can even catch a glimpse of it at low tide!
The Black Heritage Museum
Finish your excursion through the history of New Smyrna Beach with a visit to the Black Heritage Museum. One of the few of its kind in Florida, the museum is filled with memorabilia and cultural artifacts of the 20th century. Housed in the 19th century restored Sacred Heart/St. Rita building that was built in 1899, the structure was once a place of worship for a congregation of Black Roman Catholics. Visitors to the museum are offered a glimpse back in time through African American history in the state of Florida.
For more information on New Smyrna Beach’s rich history, and to plan your next getaway, please visit www.visitnsbfl.com.
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