Historic Preservation

The Historic New Smyrna Beach Preservation Commission is pleased to announce that it is now accepting nominations for the 2023 Donnadine Miller Memorial Historic Preservation Award. Awards are given annually to one residential, (Single Family) and one non-residential property that promotes pride in the City’s past and increases awareness and appreciation for buildings that contribute to the history and character of New Smyrna Beach. Buildings 50 years and older or sites associated with a historic event are eligible. The nomination deadline is December 29, 2023.

 “The City created the Historic preservation award program in 2002. “In 2009, the award program was renamed in memory of Donnadine Miller, who was an active volunteer and member of the community.” Mrs. Miller had served as Chair of the Historic New Smyrna Beach Preservation Commission; worked as an amateur archaeologist; and participated in numerous other events and activities. “While award recipients are encouraged to apply for local landmark designation, receiving an award does not place any restrictions on the property”.

 Each award winner will be presented with a bronze plaque at a future City Commission meeting.  The 2021 winner was 210 Palmetto Street (residential) and 214 Sams Avenue (non-residential). Applications are available at City Hall Annex, 214 Sams Avenue; the New Smyrna Museum of History, 120 Sams Avenue; and online at cityofnsb.com.

 For more information, please contact the Planning Department at 386-410-2835.

Latest News & Updates

The City of New Smyrna Beach and surrounding areas have a rich and unique history. Over time, enough citizens felt strongly enough about preserving the City’s historic resources that the City Commission adopted Chapter 50, Historic Preservation, to ensure historic preservation efforts were made moving forward. Multiple initiatives including but not limited to those listed below have advanced the City’s historic preservation efforts:

City Charter Sec. 6.03. Historic preservation.

The City of New Smyrna Beach, in order to preserve and enhance the historic quality of the city, foster economic development, manage growth, improve property values, and add to the quality of life of its citizens and visitors, shall strengthen the city's commitment to historic stewardship by: 

  1. Updating the regulations pertaining to historic properties. 
  2. Creating and expanding upon local historic districts. 
  3.  Developing guidelines that will assist owners in obtaining historic preservation property tax exemptions. 
  4.  Assist and facilitate owners of historic properties to access existing grant sources.

Local History

Native Americans

For some 10,000 years before the arrival of the Europeans, Native Americans inhabited the area, initially on a nomadic basis and later in more sedentary camps and villages. Until the early twentieth century, the coastline was strewn with mounds of ancient refuse that testified to the presence of the Native Americans. Most of the mounds were destroyed, the shell used for roads and building construction material. However, much evidence of prehistoric habitation remains hidden under ground and water within the corporate limits of New Smyrna Beach and beyond.

Spanish Period

The first European visitation to the New Smyrna Beach area was made during the First Spanish Colonial Period (1565-1763). Located on the fringe of the primary Spanish settlement at St. Augustine, New Smyrna was visited by missionaries sent to convert the indigenous Native American population to the Catholic faith. Toward the end of that period, the Spanish Crown conceded a number of land grants in the area.

Turnbull Settlement

New Smyrna Beach occupies a notable place in history as the site of the largest attempt at British colonialization in what is now the United States. Dr. Andrew Turnbull, a Scottish physician and entrepreneur, obtained a grant of land from the British Crown. In 1768 he established a settlement with approximately 1,500 Greeks, Italians, and Minorcans heeded the promise of new opportunities in Florida as indentured servants. This settlement produced corn, indigo, rice, hemp, and cotton. Nine years of difficult colony life reduced the settlers to 600. In 1777, a group of the colonists petitioned the English Governor in St. Augustine to be released from their indentures.   The governor offered land grants north of St. Augustine to the colonists, and many of their descendants still live there today.

Second Spanish Period

Some measure of settlement persisted after the departure of the disaffected colonists, despite the menacing presence of hostile Native Americans and occasional mercenaries of various stripe. The Spanish reclaimed East Florida from the British in 1784, but encountered difficulty in securing control over the vast and essentially unpopulated land. The United States acquired the colony from Spain in 1819 and established the Territory of Florida in 1821.

Territory of Florida

During the following two decades the New Smyrna area hosted several large plantations, which concentrated primarily on the production of sugar. All gains made toward settlement here, however, were lost during the first year of the Second Seminole War (1835-1842), when many of the plantations were attacked and destroyed by Native American raiding parties. A measure of order was reestablished when the United States Army set up a military base at New Smyrna in 1837, but few settlers returned to the area.

State of Florida

Resettlement began in earnest after the Civil War. In 1887, with a population of 150, the Town of New Smyrna was incorporated. The arrival of Henry Flagler's Florida East Coast Railway in 1892 spurred development of the area's economy, which was based on the tourism, citrus, and commercial fishing industries. 

The town counted 543 inhabitants at the turn of the century and proceeded to grow fourfold in the next two decades, reaching a population of 2,492 in 1920. The principal areas of business and residential development lay along Canal Street and Faulkner Street. Residential development during that period of expansion occurred mainly in the blocks surrounding the intersections of Washington Street and Orange Street and about two blocks inland from the river between Lytle Avenue and Clinch Street. 

Florida Land Boom

New Smyrna Beach, like most other Florida communities, experienced a period of intensive speculative development during the Florida land boom of the mid-1920s. During the boom a significant collection of buildings was constructed in the area extending from Louise Avenue, eight blocks north of Canal Street, southward to Sixth Street. After the collapse of the land boom in 1926, the State of Florida fell into a protracted economic depression. Development slowed to a virtual halt in New Smyrna Beach during the Great Depression years of the 1930s and did not recover to its boom-time levels until after World War II.

Historic Architecture

There may be about 800 buildings in New Smyrna Beach that remain from the historic period. They include buildings on the mainland, west of the Intracoastal Waterway, and on the peninsula, the former community of Coronado Beach, which was incorporated into the City of New Smyrna Beach in 1947. 

Few historic buildings in the city date from the late nineteenth century. The majority were constructed between 1900 and 1930. Most of the historic buildings in the city exhibit vernacular designs. Bungalow, Colonial Revival, and Mediterranean Revival were the most common of the high architectural styles applied to residential buildings in New Smyrna Beach during the historic period. Most historic commercial buildings reflect the masonry vernacular designs commonly found throughout the United States in the early twentieth century.