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'Images Of America: Stuart' By Alice L. Luckhardt Gives Us A Peek Into Our Beloved Town During The Early 1900s

Take a trip back in time to some of Stuart’s most cherished sites through a local author's new book.

Published on Sept. 26, “Images of America: Stuart” by Alice L. Luckhardt showcases our picturesque community in the early 1900s, when our little riverside town began evolving into the scenic city it is today.

The photos in the 128-page book highlight old landmarks, including the Stuart welcome sign and the St. Lucie River Yacht Club, along with snapshots of Osceola Avenue and more.

A native Floridian and historian, Luckhardt assembled rare photographs paired with captivating tales that document the lives of Stuart’s earliest settlers. She pulled from the archives of the Stuart Heritage Museum, Elliott Museum and expansive private collections. Last month, Luckhardt hosted a book signing at Stuart Heritage Museum to celebrate the publication's release.

Luckhardt has also chronicled similar Florida-origin stories, including "O.B. Padgett," "A Florida Son: The Ashley Gang, a Lawman and the Florida Frontier," "Legends: Family Stories and Myths," and "The Invincible Alice."

For those interested in purchasing "Images of America: Stuart," please visit the publisher's website here. The book is also available at the Stuart Heritage Museum. 

Here are some of our favorite photos from "Images of America: Stuart." (Captions and images provided by Arcadia Publishing.) 

With the FEC train crossing the St. Lucie River daily and traveling through Stuart, expansion of commerce paralleling the tracks occurred gradually. The dawn of the 20th century witnessed more people settling in Stuart to start their own farms and businesses or simply visiting during the winter to enjoy the mild weather. The railroad ensured Stuart’s expansion. By 1905, a new concrete-and-steel railroad bridge was built to replace the 1894 wooden bridge. (Courtesy of Sandra and Tom Thurlow)


Boating on the St. Lucie River, where several early homes were constructed along the shoreline, was a pleasant day’s activity in the early 1900s. Maj. Richard Houston Dudley, from Tennessee, a former Confederate officer, had a home built in 1908 along the river and owned a motor boat with a speedy six-horsepower motor by 1910. (Courtesy of Doug Witham)


In about 1906, this was a typical scene in Stuart, with a foot and bicycle bridge across the Frazier Creek. In the 1920s, this path would become US 1, with a concrete auto bridge across the creek. The boy pictured is Charles Lee Beville, about age 14. These houses were owned by Judge John Ballard Adams, Robert L. Beville, and Felix A. Gibson, all located at the corner of Albany Avenue and Fourth Street. (Courtesy of Doug Witham)


Here is the welcome sign for all those arriving in Stuart in the 1910s. It was located near the Stuart House-Hotel, which was to the left of the gateway and close to the train station. Beginning in 1909, the St. Lucie River was the northern boundary of the newly created Palm Beach County. North of the river was St. Lucie County. (Courtesy of the Sandra and Tom Thurlow)


The commercial district developed along Railroad Avenue and near the shore of the St. Lucie River. The simple, frontier-style structures each represented a steady expansion of the community over the last couple of years. Visible at far right, close to the tracks, a new passenger train depot had been constructed by March 1913, sparked by the monetary donations from local businessmen Charles C. Chillingworth, Stanley Kitching, and Henry C. Feroe. (Courtesy of Karen Hartman Malfregeot)


With Stuart’s population at approximately 1,000 in December 1916, many of the local citizens wanted a special recreational facility. Six leading businessmen, headed by Stanley Kitching, came up with plans for an offshore two-story wooden club building to be accessible from land by a wharf. It was named the St. Lucie River Yacht Club and was completed along with a 250-foot dock into the river by January 1918.


The new concrete-and-steel auto drawbridge proved to be a great asset to the development of Stuart at the beginning of the 1920s. America was beginning to become a motoring nation, and many people came south to Florida along the Dixie Highway. Another new bridge had been completed in February 1919 that crossed the South Fork of the St. Lucie River, making travel to and from neighboring Palm City much easier.


The Stuart House-Hotel, later just named the Stuart Hotel, continued to be a popular destination for visitors to Stuart. It persevered by being remodeled and expanded into the 1920s. As people crossed the St. Lucie River into Stuart over the auto bridge, they were drawn to the well-planted grounds of the hotel. Charles and Edith Glass owned the hotel from 1912 until they sold it in mid-1925 to the Roebuck and Clark families.


Along Osceola Avenue, a variety of shops existed, but many struggled during the Depression. Having been in the local hardware business since 1921, Earl J. Ricou knew by November 1936 that the time was right to construct the first building along Osceola in 12 years. His $10,000 one-story concrete store was built farther down the street on the left. Ricou stated that he had faith in the future of Stuart. Besides all varieties of supplies for a home, Ricou also carried all types of fishing equipment.


A parade through the streets of Stuart in celebration of returning military veterans after the end of World War II brought a smile to everyone’s face. This photograph was taken in front of the Victory Hotel along Flagler Avenue. (Courtesy of Clyde Coutant, Sandra and Tom Thurlow Collection) 


(Lead image of author by Liz McKinley, Stuart Magazine)