History of Melbourne Beach
In 1883, Major Cyrus E. Graves, a retired veteran of the Union Army,
sailed into Melbourne Harbor. Major Graves was most impressed with the
area and decided to buy government land which was available on the barrier
island across the Indian River from Melbourne. During the next four years,
he bought approximately six hundred acres which comprises present day
There was an eager attempt to grow pineapples and other tropical
fruits, but the freeze of 1895, known for years as the "Big Freeze", wiped
out the local growers. No real commercial attempt was ever made again in
the Melbourne Beach area.
The year 1883 was a busy year for Melbourne Beach. The pier, bathhouse
and railroad were built. The railroad consisted of a single push car which
was used to transport groceries, supplies and people from the dock at the
pier along Ocean Avenue to the ocean. Prior to 1920, transportation to and
from Melbourne was by a small ferry boat which was a sailboat, later
replaced by a motor launch. The ferry service remained the only means of
transportation until the Melbourne Causeway was built in 1921.
The Town was incorporated in 1923, with a population of a few hundred
residents. After experiencing several boom and bust periods, the
population of the Town began to stabilize after the Second World War with
growth occurring more evenly.
Some Interesting Historical Facts about
The Women's Club - Now
known as the Community Center, it was built in 1920 by a group of
known as the Rambler's Club. They raised $5,200.00 to fund the
building by giving dinners, theatricals,
and other activities. It
still has the original pine paneling, oak flooring and enclosed
The Ryckman House - Built in 1889 by Jacob Fox of
pine and cypress with two rooms upstairs, a
large room downstairs and a
large porch. It was purchased by G. E. Ryckman who is listed as
Incorporator in the Melbourne and Atlantic Railroad Company.
Port d'Hiver Bed and Breakfast Inn
201 Ocean Avenue
Melbourne Beach, FL 32951
Mrs. McCormick's Boarding House - This unique structure
was built in 1915 and was the private
residence of Mrs. McCormick and her sister who took in boarders.
There are many parts of the
interior that are of the original wood such as the pine floors and
bead board on the kitchen walls.
They took in boarders to earn their living. It is now a Wellness
Capt. Beaujean's Original House and Post Office - This
is a replica of the Original House
located just south of the pier. It
was built in 1889 and ferryboat Capt. Beaujean brought his wife Adelaide
and two sons, Don and Claude, to live in it. In 1891, postal service
was instigated, and he used a side
portion of the house for the Post
Office. Capt. Beaujean built a very nice large house on Riverside Drive
in 1909, and the small rustic structure was moved to the empty space
behind the Riverside Drive houses
where it deteriorated. When it was
discovered, it was not possible to restore and move it, so a group of
citizens, headed by Mr. Frank Thomas, and the Melbourne High School
Trades Department built this
The Community Chapel - After purchasing 20 acres of
land from Major Cyrus E. Graves, Mr. and
Mrs. Henry Whiting donated
one lot for the Chapel. The construction took place from 1890 to 1892
under the supervision of Capt. Beaujean for a cost of $200.00 It was a
simple building with portico
entrance and could only seat 70 persons.
Since then there have been many additions and improvements.
lovely stained glass windows and the bell in the belfry furnished by a
Children's Fund Drive
Jeanne's Garden - Most of the land owned by the town
founders was planted with pineapple plants
and it was thought to be a
fine enterprise until the freeze of 1894-95. Some pineapple fields
for a while, but gradually the land was sold in lots and
people began to build houses, plant gardens and
spend time enjoying
the area. This garden was started in 1940
The Help House - This unusual little house began as a
place for the "help" to stay in. These were
African-Americans who were
hired by Don Beaujean and others to work on the construction of
buildings and roads and may have helped in the pineapple fields. Since
it was not easy to go
to their homes each night by boat, having small
quarters near the work was the solution. It probably
was located near
Don Beaujean's house by the park. Later it was moved near Sunset Avenue
eventually was moved to Avenue A. The house still has the original
floors, windows and doors
of hardwood pine.
The Lumberman's House - Built in 1935 by Mr. and
Mrs. R. P. Sullivan who owned a lumber
yard in Melbourne near the old ice plant. A lot of their lumber
supply came from Holopaw. The
house has large planked floors, cypress doors and built in bookshelves,
cabinets and drawers.
This house has a basement that was used by the house "help" of the
The Fisherman's Cottage - Recently remodeled, this attractive house
dates back to 1921. It
was built of Miami Dade pine, (floors, ceiling and walls) and has
a great fireplace of coquina rock.
There is a cellar with shower. The previous owner, Mr. Chandler
Young, was an avid fisherman
(Harry Goode's fishing buddy) and on one day caught over 100 bluefish
which his wife photographed.
His niece was inspired to make a sculpture of her uncle with the
fish, and that piece of art is on
display in the house.
The Cistern at
1102 Pine St. - An above ground cistern, built to match the
the necessity of storing water before city water
was available. These cisterns collected rain water
or stored water
from artesian wells.
The Don Beaujean House - Son of
Capt. Rufus Beaujean, Don Beaujean was very instrumental
formation of the town and the subsequent growth and development. The house
was built in
1910, and has been remodeled several times, but it has a
unique location and is part of the history
of the area.