Tourists and locals looking to learn about the rich history of Fort Lauderdale need look no further then the New River Inn. South Florida locals may remember that this was the original site for the Discovery Center before it had its own building as the Museum of Discovery and Science. I have fond memories of the old New River Inn and I spent many happy Saturdays there, running wild over the polished wooden floors. The first floor used to house a bug room, where bees made their way in and out of a glass partition that lead outside. While this 1905 structure may have been added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1972, it never felt stuffy. In fact, the gorgeous turn-of-the-century architecture only added to its charm as a children’s museum.
The New River Inn remains the oldest remaining structure in Broward County. It was built for Philemon Bryan out of concrete blocks. The blocks, hollow on the inside, were constructed from beach sand, a process that would lay the foundation for construction in South Florida.
The New River Inn no longer is home to bees and screaming kids. Instead, it’s become an important part of historic South Florida as the Fort Lauderdale History Center. But will visitors see more than they bargained for?
For those looking for something a bit more historic than your average day at the beach, this is an interesting and sedate spot at which to spend some staycation time. Different rooms walk visitors through the changing history of Fort Lauderdale.
However, you might not be alone.
Many claim that the New River Inn – along with the King-Cromartie House – are haunted. Sources claim that there are several spirits who live at the New River Inn, ranging from the ghost of a young girl playing by the river to a crabby caretaker with a long white beard.
If You Go
The New River Inn (Fort Lauderdale History Center) is located at 231 SW 2nd Avenue. Admission is $10 and includes a self-guided tour of the New River Inn, a docent-led tour of the King Cromartie House (located on the same pretty, tree lined street), and the 1899 Replica Schoolhouse (located behind the New River Inn).