New River Inn
Built 1905, listed in the National Register of Historic Places 1972
231 S.W. Second Avenue, Fort Lauderdale
Early Image of the New River Inn
Image Courtesy of the Fort Lauderdale Historical Society
New River Inn, 1999
Image Courtesy of Bill Cunningham
New River Inn
Image Courtesy of the Broward County Historical Commission, Bryan Family Collection
One of the earliest establishments of its kind in the area, the New River Inn was built by Edwin T. King for Philemon Bryan in a masonry vernacular style. Beach sand was used to create the concrete construction to make the building hurricane resistant. Originally called the New River Hotel, this building replaced a 1902 wooden structure known as the Bryan Hotel, which was moved to the rear of the site and served as a hotel annex. In the 1940s the name was changed to the New River Inn and it served as a hostelry until 1955.
In a letter dated July 31, 1968, Stuart L. Bryan, grandson of the builder of the New River Inn, stated: “The present concrete building was completed in 1905 from blocks made on the grounds in detachable iron molds by hand labor... The sand for the blocks used in the New River Inn was brought from the beach on barges. All walls inside and out were of this beach sand concrete...The inn is a two-and-a-half story whitewashed structure. The roof is hipped with dormers projecting from all sides. There is a belt course of smooth cast blocks at the second floor level creating a marked contrast with the rusticated blocks applied on the rest of the building. By using two different types of molds, the effect of ashlar and rusticated stone has been simulated. Thirteen stone columns support a two-story verandah on the south and east sides of the building.”
Its proximity to the New River and its location adjacent to the railroad emphasize the importance that early modes of transportation played in the development of the Fort Lauderdale area. Visitors to the inn merely had to disembark at the dock on the south lawn of the inn and were surrounded by tropical gardens and scenic walks leading to the entrance. The hotel featured 40 guest rooms, a dining room, sewer and irrigation systems and running ice water and was lit with carbide lamps. Located in the heart of downtown Fort Lauderdale’s historic district, the New River Inn has been faithfully restored. It now houses the History Museum of the Fort Lauderdale History Center operated by the Fort Lauderdale Historical Society.
For more information, call 954-463-4431 or visit www.oldfortlauderdale.org.