At the turn of the 20th Century this area was at the edge of the Everglades--a subtropical jungle of scrub pine, sand and saw palmetto; it was a very wild area full of animals such as bears, panthers, otters, snakes, and a variety of water fowl. The New River was crystal clear and full of fish and large tarpon, which could be seen jumping out of the water.
This is one of the most historical intersections in Fort Lauderdale. It is where the railroad crosses the New River and is the site of the original downtown, which was located on the east side of the railroad tracks.
On February 22, 1896, the first steam engine train arriving at the New River settlement. Local pioneers gathered to greet the arriving train, along with a Seminole delegation of four. For the next two months the settlement remained the terminus for the rail line. Passengers had to stay overnight in Fort Lauderdale and continue on to Miami the next day either by stagecoach or ferry. By April, the railroad had completed its bridge over the New River, thereby removing the final barrier on the 65-miles of track between West Palm Beach and the Miami River.
At that time, it was called the New River Hotel (later  to become the New River Inn) and it is made of hollow concrete block construction. Sand was barged up from the beach, and the concrete blocks were made by hand in detachable iron molds right here on site. The hollow core block was used due to its cooling effects and because it was touted as being hurricane proof. The building is a “gravity structure” --that is, a building held together by its own weight.
It was a state of the art, three-story hotel with ~30 rooms (including the Annex--1/3 of the original Bryan home), two interior bathrooms (2nd and 3rd floor), running water, a sewage system and an irrigation system to grow vegetables for the dining room. The kitchen refrigerator was rigged to provide the first drinking fountain in the area. The Inn was originally lit by acetylene gas, which was produced in a small building north of the hotel.
The building opened on January 22, 1908 and functioned as a hotel until 1955.
This building is one of the oldest structures surviving in Broward County and was the first building in the county to be placed on the National Register of Historic Places (1972).
The stairway and the front desk are original and made of Dade County Pine. Dade County Pine is termite resistant, fire proof and is a very dense wood that is almost impossible to get a nail through.
Lucy Bryan Room
The Lucy Bryan Room was the dining room for the hotel until 1943 when the Bryans stopped serving meals. Lucy was Philemon’s wife. It was a prime gathering place for the early townspeople and during the 1919-1920 winter season, a chicken dinner was offered on Sundays for 75 cents per person.
Down the hallway on left is the hotel’s original parlor where guests could relax, have after dinner drinks and partake in social activities (e.g., play cards, talk, etc.).
Philemon Bryan purchased this two block area for $200 and built a large frame house on the site where the New River Inn is today. Philemon began adding rooms to his large frame home and called it the Bryan Hotel. In 1904 this building was cut into three parts and Bryan contracted with Ed King to construct a traditional hotel.