Downtown Historical Buildings, Fort Lauderdale

Downtown Historical Buildings (Self Guided), Fort Lauderdale

Downtown Fort Lauderdale is home to three designated historic districts: The Sailboat Bend, The Himmarshee, and The Stranahan House. Each holds a range of houses and buildings from the mid-19th and 20th centuries that together tell the fascinating story of Fort Lauderdale's evolution over the years.

One such notable institution, preserving the city's heritage, is the Fort Lauderdale History Center. It stands as a repository of knowledge and showcases the area's history through exhibitions and artifacts.

The Bryan Building, an architectural gem, adds to the charm of the downtown area. Its elegant design and historic significance make it a sight not to miss for history enthusiasts.

The Woman's Club is another landmark with a storied past. It served as a hub for social and cultural activities in its heyday, representing the vital role women played in shaping the community.

The South Side Cultural Arts Center, formerly South Side School, offers a window into the educational history of Fort Lauderdale. Its transformation into an arts center highlights the city's commitment to preserving and repurposing historic buildings.

The Williams House is a well-preserved example of the city's residential architecture. It stands as a testament to the lifestyles of the past.

The Croissant Park Administration Building, while more recent than some others, contributes to the historical fabric of the area. It showcases modernist architectural elements, a contrast to older structures.

The Sam Gilliam House is yet another noteworthy residence, reflecting the unique architecture of its time and offering a glimpse into the lives of Fort Lauderdale's residents.

Given the condition of these historical gems, it is obvious that locals cherish and protect their heritage. Your visit also can be a meaningful contribution to the legacy of Fort Lauderdale. So, take this self-guided walk to explore historical buildings in downtown Fort Lauderdale and ensure that these treasures remain an integral part of its vibrant cityscape for generations to come.
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Downtown Historical Buildings Map

Guide Name: Downtown Historical Buildings
Guide Location: USA » Fort Lauderdale (See other walking tours in Fort Lauderdale)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 7
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.4 Km or 2.1 Miles
Author: christine
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Fort Lauderdale History Center
  • Bryan Building
  • Woman's Club
  • South Side Cultural Arts Center (South Side School)
  • Williams House
  • Croissant Park Administration Building
  • Sam Gilliam House
Fort Lauderdale History Center

1) Fort Lauderdale History Center (must see)

The museum formerly known as the Old Fort Lauderdale Village and Museum is now the Fort Lauderdale History Center. Also known as History Fort Lauderdale, the primary museum is located at the western entrance of the Fort Lauderdale Riverwalk.

The New River Inn is the site of History Fort Lauderdale. It was constructed in 1905, built by Edwin T. King and commissioned by United States Senator Nathan Philemon Bryan. Visitors can explore the grounds of History Fort Lauderdale or take a guided tour. This museum details the history of Fort Lauderdale.

There are a number of other buildings that are open for exploration. The Pioneer House Museum, or the King-Cromartie House, is a fully preserved home that showcases the early days of Fort Lauderdale. The 1899 Schoolhouse Museum offers a glimpse into turn-of-the-century education. The Hoch Research Library offers newspaper clippings, photos, maps and blueprints.

The Philemon Bryan House is part of the Fort Lauderdale History Center as well. This house is the oldest example of residential masonry architecture in the city. It is also reputed to be haunted by Lucy Catherine Bryan, which makes it a popular spot for ghost hunters and those who simply enjoy spooky stories.
Bryan Building

2) Bryan Building

The historic Bryan Building is located in central Fort Lauderdale. It is an important historical building in the city. The building represents the Masonry Vernacular style due to its sourcing of local materials. It is unique for this area due to its brick facade, which is rare in southern Florida.

The Bryan Building was built by Thomas Bryan and was completed in 1914. Placed in the heart of the Fort Lauderdale commercial district, the Bryan Building held a US Post Office and the Fort Lauderdale Bank. It also served as a hotel over the years.

Tourists can plan to walk by the Bryan Building as they explore the many other interesting places in the city. It is located near the Fort Lauderdale Riverwalk and only one block west of the NSU Art Museum.

The Bryan Building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1997.
Woman's Club

3) Woman's Club

Many visitors associate Fort Lauderdale with beaches and spring break festivities. While these are certainly not to be overlooked, there are also a great many historic buildings in this south Florida city. One of these is the Fort Lauderdale Women's Club.

The building was constructed in 1916 and dedicated in 1917. It was designed by prominent architect August Geiger who used the Mediterranean Revival style. The Women's Club was the first architecturally designed building in the city, which is one of the reasons it was included on the National Register of Historic Places. The building is also noted for its role as a social club that gave women a place to learn and talk about politics, education and literature.

The Women's Club wasn't just a social club. It also served as the location of the city's first Red Cross headquarters. The first Girl Scout Troop was founded in this building. Even the planning of Fort Lauderdale by city planner Richard Schermerhorn, Jr. took place in this building. Today, the Women's Club is a popular location for festivals, meetings and arts & crafts shows.

Visitors to Fort Lauderdale can enjoy the history of the Women's Club while also exploring the adjacent Stranahan Park. The botanical park includes mature trees, a butterfly garden, a tropical garden, a succulent garden and over 500 varieties of plants.
South Side Cultural Arts Center (South Side School)

4) South Side Cultural Arts Center (South Side School)

South Side Cultural Arts Center is a former school that is now used for performing arts, culinary classes, fitness and tennis. Visitors will want to see the South Side Cultural Arts Center to admire its architecture and its history.

The school first opened in 1922. At that time, it was the city's first elementary school. It remained in use as an elementary school until 1969, and then as a public use building for children's services through 1990. It is one of the earliest buildings in the city that have survived.

Left vacant for a time, the city of Fort Lauderdale eventually refurbished the 11,000 square foot building to be used as a community center.

The building is located in the midst of Florence C. Hardy Park, which has ample green space and a large playground that is perfect for visiting children. It is an easy walk from the banks of the New River from the north and the Tarpon River from the south.
Williams House

5) Williams House

The Williams House is a historic house in Fort Lauderdale. The two-story masonry building was constructed in 1926 in the Mediterranean Revival architectural style. The exterior is smooth stucco over concrete block. The roof brackets, gable vents and decorative cartouches are made of cast concrete. The building has an irregular footprint and an asymmetrical fa├žade.

It was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 2005.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Croissant Park Administration Building

6) Croissant Park Administration Building

The Croissant Park Administration Building is a historic site in Fort Lauderdale. Built in the mission revival architectural style in 1923, the architect is believed to be Francis Abreu. Abreu designed many Fort Lauderdale buildings during the 1920s. The L-shaped two-story poured concrete building features a textured stucco exterior and concrete lamps on the roof corners.

The building has a cut corner entrance and a flat roof with parapets. Inside a cypress wood staircase leads to the second floor which has Dade Pine floors. G. Frank Croissant used this building as headquarters for sales of the Croissant Park development. Croissant Park was built from 1,200 acres that Croissant bought in 1924 for $1.25 million. It was one of the largest Fort Lauderdale developments during the Florida land boom of the 1920s.

The Croissant Park Administration Building was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 2001.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Sam Gilliam House

7) Sam Gilliam House

The Sam Gilliam House (also known as the Gilliam-Adams House) is a historic home in Fort Lauderdale. The two-story building displays features of both the mediterranean revival and Prairie School architectural styles. It has a flat roof with parapets concealed by pent roofs with green barrel tiles. It was built in 1925 by Sam Gilliam owner of a lumber company.

Sam Gilliam in addition to operating a lumber and building business was a leader in the local Republican party. The house was designed to be a showplace with its striking design and ornamented inside with fine woodwork. The guests at Gilliam's parties are said to have included US presidents. Gilliam was a delegate to several Republican National Conventions, arranged a golf outing for president-elect Warren G. Harding and may have entertained Herbert Hoover.

The Gilliam house was originally built at the corner of SE 9th Street and SE 3rd Avenue at 300 SE 9th Street. It was commissioned in 1924 at the peak of the Florida land boom of the 1920s. In 1998 the house was offered for free to anyone who could move it from the original site. The current owners moved the 3,900 square foot structure in July 1998 to its current location at 15th Street adjacent to the historic Croissant Park Administration Building.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.

Walking Tours in Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Create Your Own Walk in Fort Lauderdale

Create Your Own Walk in Fort Lauderdale

Creating your own self-guided walk in Fort Lauderdale is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Fort Lauderdale Beach Walking Tour

Fort Lauderdale Beach Walking Tour

For decades, Fort Lauderdale Beach has been known primarily as a destination for raucous college students to celebrate Spring Break. Today, although a bit calmer and less chaotic than before, this neighborhood still boasts a wealth of opportunities for recreation, relaxation, and enjoyment.

One of the notable local attractions is the Bonnet House Museum and Gardens. This historic estate...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.9 Km or 3 Miles
Fort Lauderdale Introduction Walking Tour

Fort Lauderdale Introduction Walking Tour

Fort Lauderdale is known for beautiful beaches and tourism. As part of the Miami metropolitan area, Fort Lauderdale offers the advantage of city culture and convenience along with warm weather, sand and sea.

Fort Lauderdale was originally inhabited by the Tequesta. Like many other native people, they faced disease and expulsion when European explorers made their way to the Florida shores.

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Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.6 Km or 1.6 Miles