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Vero Beach: A Historical Perspective

Every culture, family and city has a story, and Vero Beach is no different. The city was settled by pioneers, more notably by Henry T. Gifford, in the 1880’s. If you’ve ever been to City Hall, you may have passed the 1887 home he built nearby.

We all know the citrus industry is pretty large in Florida, and Gifford had his hand in the industry, too. He operated a citrus grove business and established the first mercantile store, which also operated as a post office, express office and railroad ticket office. Being a prominent figure in the founding of Vero Beach, the city’s name Vero is attributed to Sarah, his wife who suggested it, as it is Latin for “true.”

The City of Vero Beach lays out an easy to follow timeline of the city’s growth and rich history.

“In 1912, the Indian River Farms Company, composed of Iowan and Illinois businessmen, undertook an extensive land reclamation project purchasing 44,000 acres in present-day Indian River County. Their business plan included a vision for a town that would become “one of the finest in Florida.” The final plat of the original ‘Town of Vero’ was adopted in 1913. Herman J. Zeuch, who later became President of the Indian River Farms Company, played an important role in the town’s design. In 1915, the company launched a City Beautiful Campaign, which inspired many residents to make beautification efforts that are still visible today in Vero's historic neighborhoods and landscapes.

In 1919, the City of Vero was incorporated. In 1925, a number of Vero’s most prominent citizens successfully lobbied in Tallahassee for the creation of a new county that they named “Indian River.” Vero was designated the county seat and was re-incorporated and re-named Vero Beach.”

A great foundation had been laid for the city, but it wasn’t until the early to mid 1920’s when the development of Florida truly began to flourish.

Post World War I and the automobile entering our daily lives, thousands of people were able to migrate, visiting or relocating to cities of their choice by way of their vehicle. This inevitably helped bolster prosperity for businesses, families, and the economy. People had more money and flexibility to spend on leisurely travels--and investments.

Vero Beach real estate happened to be a popular choice for said investments and many would purchase property in Florida just from seeing ads and without even visiting the state. In 1925, after a statement in Forbes Magazine warning about Florida land prices, they skyrocketed so high that people stopped buying and wanted to sell. Over the next several years, natural disasters caused Florida’s real estate industry to come to an abrupt halt. However, Vero Beach and Indian River County weren’t as affected as Palm Beach by the Okeechobee tidal wave resulting from the historical 1928 hurricane.

While mother nature had a negative impact on several new Florida landowners, residents and businesses, Vero Beach real estate was still a safe haven for those in surrounding areas. Wealthy investors were still drawn to the scenic vistas along the Indian River and lower land prices. Once the battle of the hurricanes had ended and Vero Beach real estate had been tried and tested, Indian River County’s agricultural business economy began to emerge.

Vero Beach has a rich history, from its founding and all throughout its development. It’s remained a valuable part of Florida’s economy, from tourism to agriculture to its businesses and residents. It’s a one-of-a-kind town and a wonderful place to live and raise a family.

If you’re looking into renovating or rebuilding a home in beautiful and historical Vero Beach, give us a call to help you get started.


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