Hello again, Friends! I’ve been out and about this week and heard this quote:
“Fort Lauderdale is the Venice of America”
And when you visit the Stranahan house, you believe it!
My visit to the Stranahan House was absolutely lovely! The Stranahan House was the first trading post, post office, school, bank, and polling location. Oh, and Fort Lauderdale officially became a city on this site!
Frank Stranahan moved from Ohio to Florida because he suffered from an injury and doctors told him the weather would be good for him down here (that’s still a very common reason people still move here today).
He was 27 years old when he found work as a stagecoach driver. He would take people from Palm Beach to Miami which took two days to accomplish. Along the way, Frank realized he could make more money if he set up a trading post and a few tents for people to stay. He charged $3 a night.
Eventually, Frank got lonely and spotted a young woman named Ivy Julia Cromartie. She was 15 years younger than Frank and only said yes to marrying him after the second time and on her terms. Frank couldn’t have a beard, and no alcohol and no patented medicine were was allowed on the property. He agreed and they got married.
The Stranahan House was then build in 1901 by Edwin T. King. He made it out of Dade-County Pine which can withstand water and termites! Wish we still had it around today. Interesting fact, Mr. King also build Hugh Taylor Birch’s house.. Remember him?
The house changed through the years as the top floor served as a community center. However, the house is now arranged as it was in 1913 when they turned the upstairs into bedrooms.
The Stranahan’s were incredibly influential. Starting as many as 3 schools in the area, selling war-bonds, fighting for Indian and women rights and more. They made a great team. Frank was the behind the scenes guy taking care of the business aspect and Ivy was the social-light. Together they accomplished remarkable things becoming very financially successful early on.
Unfortunately, tragedy struck. 1926 marked a big decline in the growth of this city when a hurricane hit. Two years later, another one struck. This time, it took Mr. Edwin T. King with it. Frank’s mortgages folded and he was accumulating enormous amount of debt. He suffered from serious health problems and was admitted to a local hospital later for a mental breakdown. On June 23rd, 1929, Frank took his own life. Ivy grieved for him for 10 years.
Ivy was a determined and ambitious woman and found a way to stay afloat. She made the Stranahan house into a bed and breakfast, and then a restaurant. Ivy passed away in her sleep on August 30th, 1971. She was 90-years-old. She is referred to as “Lauderdale’s First Lady.”
The house was left to her church, but they were not able to obtain it for nearly 10 years due to the restaurant signing a lease. Once it was in their care, they sold it to the Fort Lauderdale Historical Society in 1975.
In 1981, Stranahan House, Inc. became a separate non-profit entity. The Stranahan House opened to the public in 1984, as a historic house museum. The Historic Stranahan House Museum is host to 10,000 visitors each year.
Visiting this property was like visiting an old friend’s home. I felt like I became a part of their life and work. I admire their tenacity and grit. I mean living in Florida with no air conditioning takes courage, Haha! No, but seriously, they came here and made this a place where people could come and not just come but be better for coming.
I think too often, I’m speaking to myself, we want to go here or go there. When really, the hard work is staying planted in one spot and giving your city your all. Keeping in mind you’re there to benefit those around you and those to come. I learned a good life lesson today! See what you can learn by exploring your back yard?!
The two more thing I want to mention:
1) You can get here by taking the water taxi– so cool!
2) The incredible staff. Everyone one I spoke with or met has such a passion for this place. Not only that, they give their visitors their all! I was incredibly honored to be able to go and review this place. Merry, who works in Guest Services, went above and beyond for me. Jonathon also did an outstanding job giving the tour and even let me go on the second story porch!
Thank you, Stranahan House Staff, you all are incredible!
Until my next adventure, cheers!