BREVARD HISTORY: Merritt Island Dragon ‘Annie’ Served as Lagoon Landmark for Boaters, Could Breathe Fire
By Space Coast Daily // September 15, 2023
Located on southern tip of Merritt Island, Dragon Point Mansion was built in 1961
BREVARD COUNTY • MERRITT ISLAND, FLORIDA – Who remembers “Annie,” the dragon-shaped green concrete structure that stood at the southern tip of Merritt Island, known as Dragon Point, where the Indian River Lagoon splits to form the Banana River Lagoon?
Located on the southern tip of Merritt Island, the Dragon Point Mansion was built in 1961. The estate featured three fireplaces, wraparound cedar decks, teak parquet floors and paneling, mahogany stairs, stained glass, a 20-foot copper bar, a pool and five sets of French doors.
The idea for the sculpture was inspired by the American Indian legend which held that seeing a dragon rising from the mist where the Banana and Indian Rivers met was a sign of good fortune.
The structure at “Dragon Point” served as a landmark for both locals and boaters, and also as a playhouse for children. And on special occasions, the dragon would breathe fire.
Children and adults alike remember Annie as a true Space Coast landmark, and a site for visitors not to miss.
The dragon was built in 1971 by Florida artist Lewis VanDercar and property owner Aynn Christal as 20 tons of concrete and steel were brought into “Dragon Point” by wheelbarrow, as the only access was a wooden boardwalk.
The skeleton was created with steel rods and sheets of steel and then covered with concrete to create the 65-foot long, 35-foot high dragon statue. VanDercar created the dragon with a hollow belly, complete with tables, chairs and electrical power.
Hieroglyphics were painted on the inside of Annie’s belly and stairs climbed up the dragon’s neck where you could see the sunrise on one side, and set on the other.
In 1974, red lights were added to its eye holes and a propane-based flamethrower was installed in her mouth.
On the Fourth of July, smoke billowed from her mouth and charity events and birthday parties were common by the dragon.
In 1981, the statue was expanded for new property owner Warren McFadden, with the addition of a tail, an extended neck, a caveman named Fred and a cavewoman named Wilma, and four hatchling dragons named Joy, Sunshine, Charity and Freedom.
A children’s book about the dragon and her hatchlings, “River Dragon: A Real Florida Fairy Tale,” was published in 2003.
The statues were located between the cities of Melbourne and Indian Harbour Beach, Florida, north of the Eau Gallie Causeway.
In August 2002, the sculpture was badly damaged and partially collapsed into the lagoon during a storm, and vandals wielding sledgehammers and spray cans also contributed to the statue’s destruction.
Since the dragon was eroded by severe storms and vandalized in the early 2000s, multiple attempts were made to rebuild the dragon.
The property owner and the Brevard County Commission were unable to agree on a rehabilitation effort and there was a plan in 2004 to reconstruct the sculpture, while in 2008, a developer planned a luxury hotel and spa on the Dragon Point site with a reconstructed dragon statue as its centerpiece, but both plans fell through.
“Save Dragon Point,” an organization dedicated to rebuilding the dragon statue, was founded in May 2012. In August, the mansion on the property where the dragon had stood was scheduled to be demolished and the property sold. Save Dragon Point changed its name to Annie and Kids Arts and Education Foundation.
In January 2015, Don Facciobene, a local builder and developer, bought the property and announced that a new dragon named “Rojak” will be built.
According to the story of Dragon Point, Rojak is Annie’s fifth hatchling who was kept hidden and an inaugural Dragon Boat Festival was planned in June 2015, with the proceeds earmarked to benefit Save Dragon Point.
In April 2015, a plan was announced to build Rojak by 2017. Demolition work began at Dragon Point in March of 2017, clearing room for a future multi-million dollar riverfront mansion and Rojak.