VIDEO: Top 10 Historic Sites In Brevard County Showcase Area’s Fascinating, Varied Background

By  //  May 21, 2017

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on LinkedIn Share on Delicious Digg This Stumble This

ranging from space exploration to civil rights

ABOVE VIDEO: Sonny Witt, Cape Canaveral historian and author, takes us to the top of the lighthouse, surrounded by rocket launch pads and cruise ships, the Cape Canaveral Lighthouses has shined for over 150 years.

BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – Brevard County is home to a wide variety of landmarks that showcase the Space Coast’s fascinating historical landscape that covers a broad spectrum of people, places and events ranging from space exploration to civil rights struggles as well as the earliest chapters of Ponce De Leon’s discovery of America.

1. Apollo 1 Memorial: NASA Launch Complex 34, Kennedy Space Center

ABOVE VIDEO: Tour of the Apollo 1 launch complex, posted on the Youtube Channel: Save Hangar S.

LEFT TO RIGHT: Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee in front of Launch Complex 34. Immediately after the fatal fire, NASA convened the Apollo 204 Accident Review Board to determine the cause of the fire. Although the ignition source was never conclusively identified, the astronauts' deaths were attributed to a wide range of lethal design and construction flaws in the early Apollo Command Module. The manned phase of the project was delayed for 20 months while these problems were corrected. (NASA image)

LEFT TO RIGHT: Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee in front of Launch Complex 34. (NASA image)

The first tragedy at NASA involving the loss of astronauts occurred  during a launch pad test for Apollo/Saturn space vehicle that was being prepped for the AS-204 mission. On Jan. 27, 1967,  a flash fire sparked in command module holding three astronauts, Lt. Col. Virgil I. Grissom, a veteran of Mercury and Gemini missions; Lt. Col. Edward H. White, the astronaut who had performed the first United States extravehicular activity during the Gemini program; and Roger B. Chaffee, an astronaut preparing for his first space flight, who all perished.

Today, several remnants of the facility remain and may be viewed during tours of the launch complex. If you’re fortunate enough to visit this site, we invite you to pause to reflect and pay tribute to our great explorers who made the ultimate sacrifice.

2. Cocoa Village Playhouse: 300 Brevard Avenue, Cocoa

CocoaVillagePlayhouse

Cocoa Village Playhouse

Originally known as “Aladdin Theater”, the Cocoa Village Playhouse opened in August of 1924. On October 17, 1991, it was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. From 1985 to 2010, the theater was owned by  Brevard Community College (Now known as Eastern Florida State College). After extensive renovation work was completed by the college, the theater ownership was transferred to the city of Cocoa. When the theater originally opened, it sh0wed silent films. In 1992, the feature-length film “Matinee”, starring John Goodman, filmed many of its scenes at the playhouse.

Cocoa Village Playhouse is also on our list of Brevard’s Top 10 Most Haunted Places. According to local legend, the playhouse is reportedly haunted by a former handyman named Joe, who is known to open and close doors throughout the dressing rooms and makeup rooms.

3. Henegar Center: 625 E. New Haven Avenue, Melbourne

henegar_center_180Built in 1919, the Henegar Center is one of the oldest buildings on the Space Coast. The Henegar Center was home to Melbourne’s first high school, with the senior class of 1921 as the first senior class to graduate in the city. On March 12, 1963, the building received its name in honor of Ruth Henegar, a long-time teacher and principal at the school that used the building at the time

From Brevard Cultural Alliance:

“The Henegar Center was born from the vision of a dedicated group of community leaders. As the deterioration of two historical buildings in downtown Melbourne became increasingly apparent, a small group formed the Brevard Regional Arts Group (BRAG) to revive the treasured landmarks. The buildings, formerly public schools, were donated by the Brevard County School System to BRAG for transformation into cultural arts facilities. The Henegar Center for the Arts was thus born, named for Ruth Henegar, beloved principal for whom the original middle school was named in 1963. BRAG raised over $2.5 million in cash and services to renovate the main building and the final renovations were completed in 1993.At the heart of the Center is a 493 seat proscenium-style theater designed by a Tony Award-winning Broadway set designer. The stage features a main stage curtain from the original Broadway production of The King and I, with state-of-the-art lighting and sound systems for the highest quality productions.”

4. Ponce De Leon Statue, Juan Ponce De Leon Landing: 4005 A1A, Melbourne Beach 

ponce-de-leon-statue-3

Ponce De Leon Statue in Melbourne Beach. (HiddenHispanicHeritage.com image)

Most grade school textbooks and historians of previous decades suggested St. Augustine as the likely first landing site of explorer Ponce De Leon, some historical scholars believe he may have first landed along the shoreline between what is now modern Melbourne Beach and shores near Sebastian and the border between Brevard and Indian River County.

5. Harry & Harriet T. Moore Memorial Center: 2180 Freedom Avenue, Mims

moore-center-interior

Harry and Harrie T. Moore Center Interior in Mims, Florida. (HarryHarrietMoore.org image)

From Brevard County Parks & Recreation:

MooreComplex-GO“The Harry T. and Harriette V. Moore Memorial Park has been developed to commemorate the lives of two pioneering American black civil rights workers. Harry and Harriette were leading human rights activists in Brevard County, in Florida, and in the nation. They organized the first Brevard County Branch of the NAACP in 1934, and he led the Florida organization and the fight for equality and justice until their deaths. As executive secretary of the Progressive Voters League, he helped break down registration barriers and was responsible for the registration of tens of thousands of black Americans throughout Florida. They were murdered in their home in Mims when a bomb was exploded under their bedroom on Christmas evening, 1951, their 25th wedding anniversary. It was the first killing of a prominent civil rights leader, and was a spark that ignited the American civil rights movement.

Harry T. Moore is remembered by his students for his dignity, his determination, his compassion, his discipline, and the great value he placed on education. He is remembered by those with whom he worked, as a gentleman of learning, ethics, courage and persistence; who had a deep appreciation for the values that make America great.”

6. Angel City: Site of original wooden drawbridge over Banana River

This plaque marks the former entry to the original bridge that connected Cocoa Beach with Merritt Island

This plaque marks the former entry to the original bridge that connected Cocoa Beach with Merritt Island.

Angel City marked the western entry point of of wooden toll bridge that was used from 1922 to 1941. Today, the only reminder of the structure is a plaque that reads:

“On this site on April 19, 1923, a wooden drawbridge across the Banana River was opened to the public linking Merritt Island to Cocoa Beach.

BREVARD HISTORY: Original Cocoa To Merritt Island Bridge Constructed  In May 1917Related Story:
BREVARD HISTORY: Original Cocoa To Merritt Island Bridge Constructed In May 1917

To pay for the bridge, there was a round trip toll of .20 for car and driver plus .04 charge for each additional passenger. Upon completion of State Road 520 in 1941, the old bridge was dismantled. Only the concrete abutment and a few pilings remain to mark the location of the bridge that opened Cocoa Beach to development.”

7. Cape Canaveral Lighthouse: Canaveral Air Force Station

Cape Canaveral Lighthouse. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Cape Canaveral Lighthouse. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

ABOVE VIDEO: Sonny Witt, Cape Canaveral historian and author, takes us to the top of the lighthouse, surrounded by rocket launch pads and cruise ships, the Cape Canaveral Lighthouses has shined for over 150 years.

Cape Canaveral Lighthouse tours are available during special occasions. The lighthouse is within the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, where it is managed and mainained by the 45th Space Swing of the U.S. Air Force. It was built in 1848 to warn ships of the dangerous shoals off the coast, but shore erosion required the lighthouse to be moved further inland between 1893-1894.

For updated tour information of the Cape Canaveral Lighthouse, visit CanaveralLight.org or the US Air Force’s 45th Space Wing Page at www.Patrick.af.mil

8. St. Luke’s Episcopal Church and Cemetery, Merritt Island

st-lukes-episcopal-church-merritt-island

Image for SpaceCoastDaily.com

450px-Oldstlukes

Image courtesy of WikiCommons

Citrus plantation owners and many of the earliest inhabitants of Brevard County were buried at this historic church on the north end of Merritt Island, just a few miles south of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.

From St. Luke’s Episcopal Church’s official site: StLukesMI.org:

“In the 1870s, our founding families, the LaRoche, Porcher and Sams, settled in Courtenay, a community in Merritt Island. They were Episcopalians from the Charleston and John’s Island area of South Carolina. They worshipped together using the Book of Common Prayer in the home of John Sams. The Diocese of Florida established St. Luke’s Mission in 1886, and the first church building was built in 1888 with funds provided by Mrs. Lucy A. Boardman of Connecticut on land given by Mr. Edward Porcher. The men of the congregation did the construction. Lay members were responsible for Morning and Evening Prayer two Sundays a month, while Clergy from neighboring parishes, especially St. Mark’s in Cocoa and St. Gabriel’s.”

9. Porcher House, Cocoa Village: 434 Delannoy Avenue, Cocoa

porcher-house

The Porcher family (Mentioned in the St. Luke’s Episcopal entry above) arrived at the Space Coast in the late 1800’s.  According to the city of Cocoa, the Porcher family moved to Merritt Island where he and wife Byrnina Peck of Atlanta settled and began to raise citrus fruit and a family. In 1895 the Porchers moved into a 3-story wood frame house which stood where the Cocoa Civic Center now stands. Edward became very successful with Deerfield Groves and is credited with being the first grower to grade fruit for shipping. He also invented a machine to wash the fruit, and was a founder of the Indian River Orange Growers Association.Construction started on this home in 1914 following Mrs. Porcher’s design. Her love of the game of Bridge prompted her to have stones cut to represent the suits of cards and placed in the front of the house. The home was completed and the Porcher family moved in on October 31, 1916.

VIDEO SPECIAL: Top 10 ‘Most Haunted’ Places In Brevard CountyRelated Story:
VIDEO SPECIAL: Top 10 ‘Most Haunted’ Places In Brevard County

The Porcher House is an excellent example of 20th century classical revival architecture, adapted to the Florida climate. The house was originally built with ten bedrooms and four and one-half bath and made from native coquina rock. The staircase is made of teak, the floor is oak, and the wainscoting and trim are cedar. Parts of the house are original and others are accurate restorations and some are new.

The Porcher family lived in the home until after World War II. The City of Cocoa obtained the home from the family in the early 1950s and it became City Hall. It has also been a hotel and home for boys. From 1980 to 1988 the house was vacant. The Porcher House was restored with money from two state grants as well as funding from the City of Cocoa.

Today the Porcher House is open to the public to view and available for rent for special occasions. The upstairs rooms are rented as office space. The Porcher House is included on the National Register of Historic Places.

10. Old Brevard County Courthouse: 506 Palm Avenue, Titusville

old-brevard-county-courthouse

While many Brevard residents only know of Viera as the county seat, Titusville was once home of the main county courthouse. In 1912, the neoclassical Greek style courthouse was constructed to replace a smaller, wooden courthouse that was built in 1879. Three wings were added in 1925 and additional rooms were added during the economic boom that accompanied the early space exploration era. The courthouse is still in use, but Viera currently serves as the county seat.

BREVARD-HISTORICAL-PLACES-580-3

Brevard County is home to a wide variety of landmarks that showcase the Space Coast’s fascinating historical landscape that covers a broad spectrum of people, places and events ranging from space exploration to civil rights struggles as well as the earliest chapters of Ponce De Leon’s discovery of America.

Loading the player ...

Click here to contribute your news or announcements Free