History & Culture
The town began as humbly as you could imagine, when one tiny shack was built in 1876 to serve as a shelter for shipwrecked sailors. Called the Orange Grove House of Refuge, it was mysteriously situated among orange trees, though no one knows who would have planted them. It’s as if the spirit of Florida had always been there, ready to welcome visitors. The intersection of beach and railroad led to rapid expansion in the early 20th century, and a community of artists, writers, and poets helped sustain it through the lean years of the Depression. Because the town never went bust, there are remarkably preserved buildings in art deco, mission, colonial, and bungalow styles, as well as typical Florida cottages. The city is still influenced strongly by its arts community, with a thriving visual arts scene, live theater, a history museum, Japanese gardens, and festivals and concerts throughout the year.