Enterprise, FL – Preserving the Past for Future Enjoyment
Today we welcome guest blogger David Swanberg, Marketing Coordinator of West Volusia Tourism Bureau.
West Volusia County is an area in central Florida made up of what we call the 14 communities along the St. Johns River – stretching from Pierson and Astor in the north, down to DeBary and Deltona to the South. As the connections along the St. Johns River-to-Sea Loop are being developed, cyclists can now follow a similar path to that which explorers and steamers made centuries ago.
West Volusia’s world-class trail network spans through each of those communities as well, much like the St. Johns. With the newest segment recently being completed in DeBary, riders can now go from DeLand and DeBary all the way to Titusville, uninterrupted on a designated trail. With that convenience comes a sort of tunnel vision for some riders, focused on reaching the metaphorical finish line, missing an almost hidden, small historic community called Enterprise. Tracing back to Florida’s oldest settlers, Enterprise has a rich story to tell.
A brief look at Enterprise yesterday
Enterprise was once the head of navigation on the St. Johns River. In the early days of Florida’s settlement, Enterprise was the last stop for steamers on the St. Johns River. Seeing as the river becomes too shallow beyond Enterprise, passengers were given the option to either stay in a nearby luxury hotel or hop on a train to travel further southeast towards Titusville. One of those early hotels in Enterprise was the Brock House, built by Steamboat Captain Jacob Brock.
In 1851, Captain Brock started purchasing land near Lake Monroe, laying out the streets and building a wharf. By 1856, he had completed a 100-room hotel that put Enterprise on the map as the “premier destination on the St. Johns” and in Florida, attracting notables and celebrities from all over the world. Among its most famous were Grover Cleveland, Ulysses S. Grant, Jay Gould, James Rockefeller, Gen. William Sherman, and the Vanderbilts.
At some point in the early 1900s, the Brock House Hotel was renamed the Epworth Inn and became a Methodist retreat for those seeking a spiritual haven from the world and for those studying at the Methodist Training Center in town. Later in 1937, the Hotel would be burned down to make space for the Florida United Methodist Children’s Home, which remains in Enterprise to this day.
Even before Enterprise was “discovered” by steamboat travelers like Jacob Brock, the area had been a crossroads of military activity. Fort Kingsbury on the lakefront was a garrison for soldiers scouting Native American activity in the Second Seminole War. A network of trails linked the fort to posts at Volusia, Smyrna, Lake Ashby, and points west. Much later the stagecoach road took steamboat passengers from Enterprise and Volusia to the coast.
Stone tools and arrow points found in the area of the shell mound show that native people lived here up to 6,200 years before present time. At time of contact, the inhabitants were probably Mayaca Indians who fished, hunted game, and gathered roots and berries. MUCH more information on the history of Enterprise can be found online at oldenterprise.org, or at the Enterprise Museum located at 360 Main Street in Enterprise.
A glimpse at Enterprise today
Today, Enterprise remains as an unincorporated community in Volusia County, flanked by the cities of DeBary and Deltona. The close proximity of those other cities prompted residents of Enterprise to form The Enterprise Preservation Society, Inc. (EPS) in 2000. Established to protect the rural character and history of Enterprise, the Society has worked to obtain protections from Volusia County, including designation as a Community of Special Interest, implementation of the Enterprise Local Area Plan, which establishes additional landscape and architectural standards, and finally the designation of the Enterprise Historic District, encompassing several blocks of the historic downtown area.
In 2003, Enterprise Elementary School’s Building #8 was slated for Demolition, but instead was deeded to EPS. In 2007, with the help of a Volusia ECHO grant, EPS hired Youngblood & Sons to move the building to a vacant property at 360 Main Street, donated to EPS by Sandra and Roy Walters of Enterprise. Following Several years of renovation and thousands of hours of volunteer work, it reopened as the Enterprise Heritage Center & Museum in October, 2014.
Today, the Museum offers various informative exhibits and talks that cover everything from local wildlife to local history while highlighting local artists, as well as a permanent display space for Enterprise History with historic documents, letters, photos, and artifacts. Visitors are welcome to tour the museum to find out more about its history as a restored historic schoolhouse from the 1930’s era. Up to date information on museum events and exhibits can be found at oldenterprise.org or facebook.com/EnterpriseHeritageCenterAndMuseum.
Other points of interest in Enterprise
Green Springs – This county park is located within beautiful Enterprise. It offers picturesque walking trails, playgrounds, bike trail access point, scenic overlooks, and a gorgeous emerald-green sulfur spring that was once part of Corneilus Taylor’s property. Its entrance is located on Lakeshore Drive.
All Saints Episcopal Church – On the corner of Clark St. and Jacob Brock Ave., this beautiful historic Church is open to visitors! Built in 1883, it showcases the architecture and way of life at that time.
Mariner’s Cove – Just beyond Green Springs and also located on Lakeshore Drive, awaits picnic pavilions, soccer fields, tennis courts, a playground, and a fishing/boat dock on Lake Monroe.
Barnett Memorial United Methodist Church – This Church was established in 1908 and houses some of the same lumber that was used prior inside in Brock House Hotel. It is located at 715 Jacob Brock Avenue.
East Central Regional Rail Trail – The portion of the larger Spring-to-Spring, St. Johns River-to-Sea Loop and Coast-to-Coast Trail that is in Enterprise. A bicycle trail that was once an old railroad bed that ran through Enterprise to Titusville. Trailheads include the Enterprise Museum, DeBary Hall, Green Springs Park, Lakeshore Park, and Thornby Park.
Florida United Methodist Children’s Home: This establishment was a result of the Methodist missionary conferences that were hosted at the old Brock House and a concern for local orphans. It is located at the corner of Children’s Way and Jacob Brock Ave.
For more information on Enterprise and other West Volusia attractions: www.vistwestvolusia.com
What’s your cycling story? Is it in the Messenger? Our quarterly Messenger newsletter is available online for your internet reading pleasure, just visit the FBA website Home page . Want a hard copy of our Messenger? FBA members have the Messenger delivered to their door every quarter. Join Florida Bicycle Association or visit one of our bicycle shop members to pick up a copy and use the membership form inside to join!