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History

A Distinctive Downtown for Generations

The history of the Downtown Daytona Beach area stretches back centuries. The Timucuan Native Americans once lived in this region of Florida, making their homes in fortified villages. Later, British loyalist Samuel Williams established as a citrus and sugar cane plantation in the region – then controlled by the Spain – after fleeing North Carolina during the American Revolution. The planation burned to the ground in 1835 during the Second Seminole War, and Matthais Day purchased the land for the city that would bear his name in the early 1870s.

Nearby Bethune-Cookman University was established in 1904 by civil rights and education leader Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune. In 1946, Jackie Robinson played the first racially integrated professional baseball game in the stadium that is now named after him. As the years have passed, Downtown Daytona Beach has grown and prospered at the heart of the city.

Today, Downtown is home to the Riverfront Shops of Daytona Beach. Located in the historic Beach Street area between Bay Street and Orange Avenue, the Riverfront Shops offer something truly special: The opportunity to browse locally owned shops and services, savor the unique flavors of authentic eateries and enjoy entertainment and attractions – all in a beautiful riverfront location unlike any other.

Every season, fans fill up the stands to see Daytona Tortugas play in the historic Jackie Robinson Ballpark on the waterfront. Beach Street has museums, exhibits, outdoor festivals, aquatic activities, nightlife, cafés and Florida’s oldest Saturday Farmers’ Market. Anchoring the North Block of Beach Street is the state-of-the-art News-Journal Center at Daytona State College, which hosts performers from around the world.

Riverfront Shops History
The Sweetheart Trail

The Sweetheart Trail

The Sweetheart Trail offers a paved route nestled between Beach Street and the Halifax River in Daytona Beach. It’s named after a yacht owned by Charles Grover Burgoyne, a successful businessman who lived in Daytona Beach in the late 1800s.

Near the north end of the trail, travelers can cross a pedestrian bridge to access the beautiful Manatee Island Park, where there are restrooms and picnic pavilions, as well as a fishing pier, playground, and amphitheater. City Island Park is also accessible from the trail by crossing a wooden footbridge a little farther south; baseball fields, tennis and volleyball courts, picnic areas with grills, and the Daytona Beach Regional Library can be found on the island.

The 1.5-mile trail will one day stretch 6 miles from the southern to the northern limits of the city. It’s also part of a larger developing project, the East Coast Greenway, a multi-use trail network which will span the Eastern Seaboard from Florida to Maine.

The pathway begins at Main Street Bridge and heads south to Orange Avenue. Along the route, shade is provided by unique sail-like canopy structures.

Grave of Brownie, the Town Dog

The grave of Brownie, the Town Dog of Daytona Beach is located at the corner of Orange Avenue and Beach Street in Riverfront Park.

Brownie was a stray who lived on Beach Street in the 1940s and 50s. His sweet disposition quickly made him a favorite of local shoppers and tourists. Many donated money to help pay for his food and veterinary care, and a bank account was opened in his name.

As Brownie’s popularity grew, he appeared in national and local magazines and newspapers. Brownie died on October 31, 1954 at the age of 15. The funds remaining in his bank account paid for his casket, funeral and grave stone. The Daytona Beach mayor gave the eulogy at a funeral attended by 75 people.

Brownie’s story continues to draw attention more than six decades later. Atlas Obscura featured his grave site in their article on famous dog resting places throughout the world. He will always be remembered as Daytona Beach’s “good boy” and historic Downtown’s canine ambassador.

Grave of Brownie, The Town Dog of Daytona Beach
Halifax Historical Museum

Halifax Historical Museum

The Halifax Historical Museum displays millennia of local history in a National Register of Historic Places listed building at 252 South Beach Street.

The museum’s permanent exhibits present the history of the greater Daytona Beach area, with artifacts dating from 5,000 B.C.E. Visitors will learn the local history of the Timucuan Native Americans, the British and Spanish colonial eras, early pioneer families, auto racing, the World Wars, and more. Plus, the museum has three changing exhibits a year, so there is always something new to explore!

Museum memberships are available for those interested in local history and culture.

The Veterans Museum & Education Center

The Veterans Museum & Education Center is a non-profit corporation established in March 13 2013. Its mission is to educate the public about the importance of our veterans. And the goals are to pay tribute to the service and sacrifice to those men and women who have served in the Armed Forces of the United States.

The Veterans Museum & Education Center is designed to educate future generations in understanding the cost of freedom and encourage and foster pride and patriotism in our country.

We began the museum in the Ormond Beach City Hall Building about 3 years ago.

The challenge was to find a larger space in order to properly pay tribute to our veterans.

The search for space included space at Daytona Beach airport, other government buildings, and private businesses facilities. The search for a larger space ended this year when we reached an agreement with Dr. Wahba W. Whaba, a well-known local physician in Daytona Beach, to use space in a building he owned in downtown Daytona Beach. His generous offer allowed us to relocate to the upstairs of Tic Toc Enterprises located at 166 South Beach St.

A dedication and A Grand Opening of the museum was held on Saturday August 6 with nearly 250 people in attendance. Guest speakers included Daytona Beach Mayor Derrick Henry and Lt. Colonel Garret Messner, U.S. Army retired.

The museum is now open on Tuesday and Thursday 1PM-5PM and 12PM-4PM on Saturday. There is no charge for the museum and donations are accepted and appreciated, and the museum is looking for volunteers to act as hosts and guides.

A feature of the museum is a Veteran of the Month which spotlights an individual who has served in the Armed Forces. We encourage veterans, or families of veterans to submit information that can be used in this feature.

The Veterans Museum & Education Center has a membership requirement and meets the first Tuesday of the month in room 4 of the Ormond Beach Library, however “Visitors are welcome at the monthly meetings”.

The Museum is directed by a Board of Directors and has an Advisory Board consisting of retired officers and enlisted persons who held the rank of First Sgt. to Lt. General.

Membership annual fee in the organization is as follows, Individual $25.00, Family $30.00, and Businesses $100.00.

In addition, individuals or businesses who make a donation of ($20.00 or more) in support of the museum will have their name or business displayed on the Donor Honor Roll plaque.

All donations are tax deductible.
The success of the museum will depend on the support of the citizens and the veterans of our community.

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