BREVARD HISTORY: ‘Indialantic-by-the-Sea’ Started In 1915 By Ernest Kouwen-Hoven

By  //  September 12, 2021

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name is portmanteau derived from location between Indian River Lagoon and Atlantic Ocean

THE INDIALANTIC CASINO was built in 1923 in what is now the southwest corner of James H. Nance Park, located at 201 North Miramar Avenue – State Route A1A. It all started in 1915 when Ernest Kouwen-Hoven, inset, came south from Chicago and brought his family to Melbourne. (Brevard County Historical Society image)

Ernest Kouwen-Hoven envisioned this property as becoming an exclusive beachside resort and this one-square-mile became known as “Indialantic-by-the-Sea,” with the first map of this area being recorded in 1916.

BREVARD COUNTY • INDIALANTIC, FLORIDA – It all started in 1915 when Ernest Kouwen-Hoven came south from Chicago and brought his family to Melbourne. Kouwen-Hoven, originally from the Netherlands, purchased a strip of beachside land lying between the Indian River and the Atlantic Ocean.

He envisioned this property as becoming an exclusive beachside resort and this one-square-mile became known as “Indialantic-by-the-Sea,” with the first map of this area being recorded in 1916.

The town’s name is a portmanteau derived from the town’s location between the Indian River Lagoon and the Atlantic Ocean. He envisioned this property as becoming an exclusive beachside resort and this one-square-mile became known as “Indialantic-by-the-Sea,” with the first map of this area being recorded in 1916.

The town’s name is a portmanteau derived from the town’s location between the Indian River Lagoon and the Atlantic Ocean.

In those days, the only means of access to Indialantic was by boat or ferry, so in 1919 Kouwen-Hoven began construction of a wooden bridge across the Indian River from Melbourne to Indialantic. It became known as the “Kouwen-Hoven’s Folly” because of predictions it would never be completed.

IN 1919, Ernest Kouwen-Hoven began construction of this wooden bridge across the Indian River from Melbourne to Indialantic, which was completed in 1921. The bridge was used until the existing high-rise Melbourne Causeway was completed in 1985. (Brevard County Historical Society image)

Kouwen-Hoven, however, financed the construction by issuing his own bonds at 8 percent interest and using his land in Indialantic as an incentive for prospective buyers – if a person purchased a $100 bond, he could buy a lot for $20.

The bridge was finally completed in 1921 and used for many years. Lighted by kerosene lanterns, the bridge was often set afire when they were blown or knocked over. It was not uncommon for drivers to travel with hammers to pound loose nails back into the wooden planks.

In 1941, a new concrete and steel swing bridge was begun. Construction was delayed with the onset of World War II and was completed in 1947. This bridge was used until the existing high-rise Melbourne Causeway was completed in 1985.

The Indialantic Casino was a two-story Mediterranean Revival-style building designed by architect William Christen and developed by Herbert Earle. It opened on December 22, 1923, and boasted shops, an Olympic-size saltwater pool, a tall diving tower and wading pools.

High Rollers

At the ocean end of today’s Fifth Avenue, the Indialantic Casino was built in 1923 in what is now the southwest corner of James H. Nance Park, located at 201 North Miramar Avenue, State Road A1A.

The two-story Mediterranean Revival style building was designed by architect William Christen and developed by Herbert Earle. It opened on December 22, 1923, and boasted shops, an Olympic-size saltwater pool, a tall diving tower and wading pools.

The casino became a center for social activity in the Melbourne area, offering rooms for winter guests and space for club meetings, socials, and galas, such as wedding receptions, banquets and cotillions.

Special events included a Midnight New Year’s Eve dinner, a Fourth of July celebration, and the Miss Melbourne and Miss Florida Beauty Pageants of 1925.

Weekly rates in 1924 for ocean-view rooms, including board, were $20 for singles and $35 for doubles.
The casino’s pool was used for training World War II military personnel from the Banana River Naval Station.

Following a major renovation in 1942, Karl Abbott purchased the casino in 1944 and changed its name to the Bahama Beach Club. From 1949 until it was acquired by the Town of Indialantic in 1967, the building was an exclusive private club. Following a period of decline, the building was razed in 1970.

FAMILY MEMBERS and friends joined Indialantic town officials in 2016 to unveil Ernest Kouwen-Hoven Riverside Park. Above Indialantic Mayor Dave Berkman, left, with Marcia Littlejohn and Dian Milligan, granddaughters of Ernest Kouwen-Hoven. (Indialantic image)

Incorporated in 1952

A stable community of homeowners was established in Indialantic during the Florida real estate boom that reached its peak in 1925. The town was incorporated in 1952 with a population of 1,500 and bounded on the south by the town of Melbourne Beach.

Today the town is primarily a residential town with a population of about 3,000 people. The Indialantic Fire Department is made up of six paid firefighters and 15 volunteers. The police department operates with 12 sworn officers, and six full-time and seven part-time civilian employees.

Strict zoning codes and enforcement of these codes keep Indialantic a unique and prestigious community. Even though a large portion of the population is retired, there is still a diversity of residents consisting of young couples with children, professionals, business people, artists and students.

Residents and tourists can enjoy the public beach area and swimming, fishing, boating and surfing are favorite pastimes. The boardwalk offers a place to stroll along the ocean and the parks throughout the Town provide getaways from the day’s routine.

Threatened and endangered sea turtles nest along the shore from May through October, and in 1975, the Indialantic town council issued a proclamation designating the area a bird sanctuary.

Kouwen-Hoven, the founder of Indialantic, died in 1940 at the age of 65 in Melbourne.

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