Built circa 1913, Registered in 1997
220 Brickell Ave
Fort Lauderdale , FL 33301

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The Bryan Building, also known as the Shepherd Building, is a two-story masonry vernacular structure built between 1913 and 1914.  Located within the first commercial downtown district of Fort Lauderdale, the brick facade is very unusual in South Florida.  The building, constructed for Thomas Bryan after the devastating fire of 1912, which destroyed almost the entire downtown business district, is the least altered building of its era in downtown Fort Lauderdale.   Thomas Bryan began the Fort Lauderdale Light & Ice Company.  The company produced ice for the carloads of vegetables that were shipped to northern markets and power to generate electricity for public use.  Bryan also was instrumental in the administration of the telephone system.  The Bryan Building stands out as a reminder of Fort Lauderdale's early commercial beginnings.

The two-story Bryan Building was constructed for Thomas Bryan, a member of one of Fort Lauderdale’s most influential pioneer families.  The Bryan building was one of the first hotels in Fort Lauderdale’s original downtown district.  It was one of the first commercial buildings to be built after the 1912 fire that destroyed much of the original city.  This masonry vernacular building has a brick facade which is unusual for South Florida but typical in other areas of the country at the time it was built.  Masonry buildings are more fire resistant than wooden structures.  It is considered the least altered building of its era in downtown Fort Lauderdale.  The 14,200-square-foot building has old growth Dade County pine floors. 

“The first floor traditionally was used as offices while the upstairs served as either a hotel or a rooming house.”   The building housed the post office on the first floor from 1914 to 1925  and the Fort Lauderdale Bank until at least 1924.    “The Hotel DeSoto occupied the building from at least 1919 to at least 1927 , the Lee Hotel from 1936 to 1938, the Hotel Boris from 1940 to 1948, and the Dorsey Hotel from 1950 to 1965.”    The Dorsey Hotel did not allow women visitors and was known for its cowboy theme.  “Rooms were painted with western scenes which ranged from corrals to hangman’s nooses.”   

In the mid 1940s the building was purchased by local real estate developer Bailey R. Howard.  Howard’s daughter Bette and son-in-law Ennis Shepherd eventually acquired the building.  Ennis Shepherd became a City Judge and prominent attorney.  He maintained his law office on the ground floor from 1947 until the early 1990s.   

This building was widely known as the Shepherd Building because Shepard’s well-known law office was housed there for many years.   This tastefully restored building is now used as office and retail space.