Cultural Quarterly
Spring/Summer 2009
Volume XXII, Number 3
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Annie Beck House

The Historic Annie Beck House
A Tribute to a Time Gone By
By Susan F. Davis

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Annie Beck lived 99 years, proving that she was indeed a stalwart pioneer.  Her home is now 93 and safely protected to reflect both the life and times of this woman and her community.

Yes, the Annie Beck House, a small, charming gable cottage, constructed in 1916, is a living example of an architectural style that was prevalent throughout this country in the early 20th century.  Built of wood, this Craftsman-style bungalow is one of the few of its type still standing in South Florida.  It has its own claim to fame as the site for numerous television commercials, print ads, photo shoots and even a Kodak ad campaign. 

Mrs. Beck herself lived in the home until shortly before her death.  But, that only makes sense - she and her husband, “Doc” Beck, are considered true Fort Lauderdale pioneers.  He operated Fort Lauderdale’s first drug store, which opened in 1917.  Mrs. Beck soon became a cornerstone of life in the area.  Her credits are many as she immersed herself into the community that she loved.

Annie Beck purchased the property where All Saints Episcopal Church was established.  Then, she promptly organized the Women’s Auxiliary of the Episcopal Church.  In 1938, she formed a library in her own home.  In this same decade, she became the first president of the Fort Lauderdale Woman’s Club.  Co-founder of Fort Lauderdale’s first Garden Club, Annie became a nationally accredited flower show judge.

Her love of nature and flowers was clearly showcased by the yellow trumpet tree (Tabebuia Caraiba) in what was then her front yard.  This tree became a landmark in the city.  To honor her, the city planted these same types of trees in the pocket park named in her honor on Victoria Park Road. 

But the story simply doesn’t end there.  The Annie Beck Cottage has twice escaped the wrecking ball.  While Mrs. Beck still lived, the home was moved from its original location on East Las Olas Boulevard to SE 11th Avenue.  That feat was accomplished in 1977.  Near the time of her death in 1985, Annie Beck sold her home to Shelby Grant Smith Jr., who was himself a son of one of the Fort Lauderdale pioneer families.  His family had founded Smith Drug Stores.  He fell in love with the house.

Smith renovated the house, but he made certain that nothing compromised the historical integrity of the house.  Everything he did remained true to the historical period and the original style of the home.  Shortly after the death of this owner, his son, Shelby Grant Smith III, learned that the new owners of the house were interested in donating the structure to the city.  Smith contacted the Broward Trust for Historic Preservation, and yet another move for the house was planned.

In 2008, the Annie Beck Cottage made its final move to Middle River Terrace Park on North Dixie Highway.  The Broward Trust for Historic Preservation now owns the home and is dedicated to restoring this historic property just the way it should be.  Once the cottage reached its new home, it received its long-awaited historic designation.  The Annie Beck home will be available to garden clubs, Middle River Terrace residents and other non-profit groups for special events as well as education purposes. 

The Annie Beck Cottage has been given a new lease on life.  New energy will infuse it so that future generations will be able to immerse themselves into a simpler life.  Thanks to the Broward Trust for Historic Preservation, the Annie Beck Cottage will live on to protect an important piece of our history, educate today’s citizens and pay tribute to one of our community’s pioneer families.