The Past, Preserved in Indian River County

Check out this list of sites where you can gain insight into the forces that have shaped Vero Beach's rich history

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McClarty Treasure Museum. Photo courtesy of Visit Indian River County
McClarty Treasure Museum. Photo courtesy of Visit Indian River County

McLarty Treasure Museum and The Survivors’ and Salvagers’ Camp

Learn about the survivors of a Spanish fleet of 11 ships that wrecked in a 1715 hurricane—the reason this slice of paradise is called the Treasure Coast. The site on Orchid Island where 1,500 survivors of the disaster and the salvagers who recovered the fleet’s gold, silver, copper, and other valuables is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The McLarty Treasure Museum, located on A1A on the south side of Sebastian Inlet State Park, occupies part of the survivors’ site and shares their story through artifacts, exhibits, and an A&E Network documentary.

Breconshire Marker is a popular dive site. Photo courtesy of Visit Indian River County
Breconshire Marker is a popular dive site. Photo courtesy of Visit Indian River County

Breconshire Marker

In 1894, the 300-foot iron steamer S.S. Breconshire ran aground after hitting a reef in 20 feet of water, a quarter mile off Vero Beach. Today, it’s a popular snorkeling, diving, and paddling destination. A marker at the north end of the Humiston Park boardwalk details the event, and the ship’s boiler, topped with an American flag, can be seen by landlubbers during low tide.

Hallstrom House

This 1909 farmhouse, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was bequeathed to the Indian River County Historical Society to preserve and showcase the region’s bygone way of life. The former pineapple plantation on Old Dixie Highway is surrounded by 100-plus acres being preserved for nature and green space.

Vintage Indian River crate labels, photo courtesy of Visit Indian River County
Vintage Indian River crate labels. Photo courtesy of Visit Indian River County

The Heritage Center and Indian River Citrus Museum

Find out how citrus seeds arrived in Florida and pioneers grew the world-famous Indian River Citrus brand. The 85-year-old downtown gem is operated by the nonprofit Vero Heritage and is also rented out for special events.

Vero Beach Railroad Station & Exhibit Center

In 1984, the Indian River County Historical Society purchased the abandoned Florida East Coast Railway station built in 1903 as its first preservation project. The cheery yellow building in Pocahontas Park now serves as the society’s headquarters.

Laura Riding Jackson House

In her later years, Laura Riding Jackson, an avant-garde poet in the 1920s and 1930s, settled into this circa-1910 “Cracker”-style house built of Florida pine. This vernacular home is “an example of a disappearing architectural style and a symbol of an older, environmentally sensitive way of life,” according to the Laura (Riding) Jackson Foundation. It is located today on Indian River State College’s Mueller Campus, along with a pole barn and a garden.

The Hall of Giants at McKee Botanical Garden, courtesy of McKee Botanical Garden
The Hall of Giants at McKee Botanical Garden. Courtesy of McKee Botanical Garden

McKee Botanical Garden

This 18-acre tropical garden listed on the National Register of Historic Places was at one time the largest natural attraction in Florida. The garden on U.S. Highway 1 features more than 10,000 native and tropical plants, with 80-plus varieties of water lilies as its centerpiece. Opened in 1929, the garden also features exhibits, educational programs, and restored buildings from various decades.

Old Vero Man Site/Old Vero Ice Age Site

“Vero Man” was the name given to a set of fossilized human bones found in 1915 and 1916 along the Main Relief Canal between Aviation Boulevard and U.S. Highway 1. Excavation and research have revealed a large collection of human remains dating back 7,000 years, as well as fossils of extinct megafauna such as mammoths, saber-toothed tigers, tapir, and sloths.

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