Stranahan House, Fort Lauderdale
Stranahan House - a wonderful place to visit
The Stranahan House is located on the New River that runs through the city of Fort Lauderdale and it's one of my very favorite places - and just a stone's throw away from my home.
It is the oldest home in the area and was first built in the early 1900s by Frank Stranahan, the area's first permanent resident.
When Frank married Ivy Cromartie, the area's first schoolteacher, he had this building made as their new marital home.
Today, it has been extensively restored and is open daily as a museum. It is a truly fascinating place to visit - I'm so lucky to live nearby - and there are so many stories to be heard about this couple who were known as 'the Mother and Father of Fort Lauderdale. They were a major part in creating the our wonderful city and making it what it is today.
The home has survived many tribulations - including several major hurricanes - but still sits proudly in the river in the midst of today's high rise condominium and business buildings.
Visit the Stranahan Museum
Today, the home is flanked by commercial and residential high-rise buildings. Imagine though - at the time of its building, it stood alone on the banks of the New River and was operated as a trading post. Indigenous Seminole Indians visited regularly to trade here.
At the time, the property was considered to be in the western side of Fort Lauderdale - on the edge of the swampy Everglades. Because of the astonishing development that has taken place in Fort Lauderdale since the days of the early pioneers, we are truly lucky that this wonderful home survives.
Visitor details - Here's more info about visiting the museum
The Stranahan House Museum is located at 335 Southeast 6th Avenue Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33301 and to contact the museum call (954) 524-4736. It is located just steps away from the famous Las Olas Boulevard. Make visiting this wonderful place a priority next time you're in this fabulous area!
You'll find too that the house is located on the very best street in Fort Lauderdale. Walk along the New River, sip a coffee at a sidewalk café ... be sure to have enough time to enjoy Las Olas.
The New River
Photograph © Andy Royston.
Why I love this place
I first visited this wonderful place when I'd newly moved to the area. I knew little about it and to be honest, I don't think I paid much attention to the guided tour.
You see, I was fascinated by the building itself. It's surrounded by high modern structures and I was fascinated simply that the little home had survived all these years.
Gradually I discovered more about the place and the couple and discovered that our city actually began right here - Frank Stranahan being the first permanent resident. The I found out about his astonishing wife, Ivy.
The real high point in my discoveries though was this book, Mystic Sweet Communion. It's a story of the Stranahans in novel form. I asked one of the staff how accurate it was and it seems that it's very accurate indeed.
Until I read this book, the Stranahans - and all the other pioneers of our area - were shadowy, historical characters. This book brings them to life - brilliantly.
Is it haunted?
The answer is - definitely not
It's common knowledge locally that the stories of the house being haunted are complete nonsense and are there to attract the more gullible tourist (the management and staff know how much people love being spooked!).
We locals don't encourage the belief ... but we don't discourage it either.
In fact, there are weekly Ghost Riverboat Tours. Very popular they are too - but if you go on one and don't see a ghost, then I won't be surprised.
So why is there this legend that the house is haunted? One reason that is often cited is that 'so many people died there'. Let's have a look at that, shall we?
The first was a young Indian girl who was visiting the trading post with her family. Others were Frank himself (who took his own life, largely because he had prostate cancer), Ivy's sister Pink (who died in childbirth shortly after discovering that her husband had a wife and in another state), their brother Albert (who died of TB) their father Augustus (at the age of eighty) and Ivy (at the age of ninety).
None of these are suspicious deaths; some are tragic, but not suspicious.Throughout their lives, the Stranahans worked to improve the conditions of the Seminole Indians. Children dying due to poor conditions and lack of medical care was one of their concerns. So the demise of the young girl (often erroneously reported as an old woman) wasn't unusual.It tragic too that Frank took his own life at the age of sixty four.
Again, legend is incorrect when it states that this was due to financial losses and The Depression. As stated above he had just been diagnosed with cancer - of a type that meant that his younger wife would have to care for him in a particularly unpleasant and messy way.Pink and Albert died too young, that's for sure.
But for a house to be a hundred years or more old to have seen half a dozen deaths is surely not unusual. People will believe what they want to believe, however.
What the staff have to say
I'm lucky enough to know several people who work at the house, including the lovely Director, April. The staff have spent hour after hour after hour in the house, year in, year out. Not one will tell you that they have seen or experienced a ghost. Below, see a quote from John, who has been the caretaker of the house for many years. This quote is from my book about the history of Las Olas Boulevard, Create Your Own History
The Stranahan House became a popular museum and developed a reputation for being haunted - people said that it held the spirits of Frank, Ivy, Pink, Albert, Ivy's father and a young Seminole girl who died in the house in its early days. The alarm would go off in the middle of the night to reveal ... no-one. Caretaker John Della-Cerra solved the mystery 'It was a rat' he explained.— Jackie Jackson : Create your own History
The house holds regular events.Many of these are arranged in conjunction with the local Seminole organisation. And yes, sometimes they bring alligators!
More about the Stranahan House and Las Olas Boulevard
- The Stranahans of Fort Lauderdale: Mystic Sweet Comm...
Sweet Mystic Communion is a beautiful novel based on the facts regarding the pioneer days and the growth of Fort Lauderdale. It all started in 1893 when Frank Stranahan became the first resident...
- Las Olas Boulevard, Fort Lauderdale
Las Olas Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale is a splendid area. See photographs and learn more about the area today and in history.
- Spend a Day on Las Olas Boulevard, Fort Lauderdale: ...
Las Olas Boulevard is Fort Lauderdale's finest street. With exclusive boutiques, gourmet restaurants & luxurious facilities, it can be expensive. But you can enjoy this fabulous area on a budget.
© 2012 Jackie Jackson