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The History of New Smyrna Beach

New Smyrna Beach is located on the “Fun Coast” of eastern Central Florida. Coincidentally, their local area code — 386 — spells out FUN! The city offers a quieter approach to Daytona Beach’s glamour and crowds. It appeals to families because of its above-average public schools and retirees for its climate and low-key beach life. Thanks to new condominium developments, the area is rapidly growing.

Read on to learn more about New Smyrna Beach’s rich history as well as its present-day accolades.

Looking at New Smyrna Beach’s Past

Aboriginals populated this area as early as 2000 BC. Their oyster feasts contributed to an estimated 33,000 cubic yards of shells at the famous Turtle Mound. The spot rises 50 feet high and covers 2 acres!

Around 1769, Dr. Andrew Turnbull, a Scottish man, recruited about 1,300 settlers, including 200 Greeks, 110 Italians, and 1190 Minorcans, to homestead on his 101,000 acres, naming the new colony “New Smyrna.” Unfortunately, shortages, mosquitoes, and disease caused the colony to fail only ten years later. Turnbull had started his “palace,” building the coquina foundation, made of fused-together tiny shells. You can still see his progress at the corner of Julia and North Riverside Drive.

In 1783, the Spanish regained control of the area by swapping the Bahamas for Florida. They sold it to the new United States in 1819. Plundering because of the wars of 1812 and the Seminole in 1835 destroyed any remaining developments. Around 1835, settlers from New York built a sugar mill and began processing cane from nearby plantations. The ruins of the mills can still be seen off Route 44 and Old Mission Road.

Following the end of the Civil War, the hotelier Sheldon rebuilt a hotel ruined by Union soldiers. This location served as the local shopping center until 1896. Throughout the 1800s, several roads were built for military purposes, including one from St. Augustine to the New Smyrna stone wharf and two from Fort Mellon on Lake Monroe.

By 1892, railroad and steamboat transportation was booming and led to new developments and steady growth. A wooden bridge was built to connect the peninsula to the mainland, encouraging families from Orlando, Deland, and Enterprise to vacation here. Between 1900 and 1920, the area grew by 400 percent, including the addition of 4 churches and numerous businesses. New Smyrna Beach officially became a city in 1903.

After the stock market crash of 1929, nearly 25 percent of Floridians were on relief. World War II led to limited travel, which spurred development of both small beach side buildings and high-rise towers.

Present-Day New Smyrna Beach

The nearly 27,000 residents of New Smyrna Beach, located in Volusia County, enjoy the outdoor activities that the city has to offer, including fishing, sailing, motorboating, golfing, and hiking as well as water sports like swimming, scuba diving, kitesurfing, and surfing. In fact, National Geographic named it one of the world’s top 20 surf towns in 2012. It has also been called “The Shark Bite Capital of the World.” Additionally, the New Smyrna Beach Historic District contains 312 historic buildings.

You can find the previous three installments our The History Of series below:

Let The Urban Dog Group help you with your real estate needs in New Smyrna Beach and other areas of Central Florida! Contact Christine Elias at Be sure to check out Christine’s recent interview in OrlandoVoyager Magazine!


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