Saturday, June 15, 2019
Fishermen were settling along the Indian River very early in Florida’s history; but the first families didn’t arrive in this area until 1860. The first commercial building, establishing the downtown area, was erected in 1881. And the city was incorporated in 1895. Citrus was the economic engine of the area.
However, Cocoa Village came into its own in the 1960s when the space industry developed. Tourism became a booming business as thousands came to witness the launches from Cape Canaveral.
Last weekend, we toured Cocoa Village to witness its history and Southern charm!!!
Cocoa Village sits along the Indian River. Today, that river is part of the Intracoastal Waterway system.
There are many charming homes along this waterway also.
Not to mention the cute and compact houses in town.
Some of the late 1800s homes are quite large.
Some are large enough to be bed & breakfasts!
This is the grandest house in Cocoa, built in 1916 for Edward Porcher, a citrus grower and inventor. There was a large packinghouse on the riverbank behind the house to process the citrus boated over from their groves on Merritt Island.
In 1945, the city of Cocoa purchased the Porcher House and used it as City Hall. The packinghouse came down and this park was built along the river. Today, Porcher House is rented out for special events.
These early commercial buildings are like an early representation of a strip mall!
They are still in use.
Much more attractive than the strip malls we usually see today!!!
The historic Derby Street Chapel was built in 1924 for the Seventh Day Adventists. In 1955 it was bought by the Church of Christ. By 1964, it was the First Baptist Church. Finally, in 2005, it was saved from demolition by the city and is now a community center.
This is the new First Baptist Church.
At this point, we decided it was time for lunch! We chose Murdock’s, founded in 2001 by three school teachers. They purchased what had once been the 1940s Murdock’s Grocery Store.
When constructed in the early 1940s, Murdock’s was built using salvaged doors and windows from the old, demolished Brevard Hotel (now replaced by the Oleander Point Condos and Marina.
Once known as the grocery for Quality Foods, Murdock’s is now home to Quality Meals.
We began with Fried Pickles accompanied with Horseradish and Ranch Dressing.
Rog ordered a Warsteiner German Pilsner.
Sandy ordered a Benzinger Sauvignon Blanc to go with her Patty Melt Sandwich.
Rog had the Shrimp Po’boy Sandwich.
As we returned to sightseeing, we made it a point to look at the Oleander Point Condos now enjoying the riverfront location of the old Brevard Hotel.
We drove over to the S. F. Travis Hardware Store, founded in 1895 by a Civil War veteran. Colonel Travis would sail up and down the Indian River delivering supplies to his customers as far to the north as Jacksonville and to Ft. Pierce in the south.
Today, the store is run by his great-grandson, Travis Osborne. This is a must -see establishment for every man on the planet!!! It’s like a museum of tools, hardware and fixtures. It may be an old-fashioned store, but it supplies the likes of NASA, too!
The downtown area is quite charming. Quaint buildings, interesting shops and enticing eateries abound!!!
There are cool consignment shops, galleries, jewelry artisans, and even a Barkery for man’s best friend!
Obviously, many of the old buildings have been re-purposed to great advantage.
Ossorio’s Cafe is located next door to Cocoa’s version of a mall–it’s really more like an arcade!
Across the street is the Myrt Tharpe Square where a farmers’ market is held every week.
There are charming boutiques.
You can find lots of beachwear.
And there is even a beautiful theater that is still in use!!! This is the Cocoa Village Playhouse, housed in the old Aladdin Theater. Today, they produce an entire season of live concerts, plays, and musicals.
Next door to the theater, we discovered the Belair Courtyard. Built in 1926 around an open-air patio, it was designed to be a modern two-story office and retail complex. It still is, with the addition of a quality restaurant.
We were nearing the end of the day. We walked along the river for a final look and gazed across to Merritt Island.
We strolled as the sun slowly set.
And we admired the bridge from Cocoa to Merritt Island. One of my uncles, as a young civil engineer in the 1950s, was involved in its construction!!!
Heading back to the Belair Courtyard, we stopped for dinner at Cafe Margaux.
Our sever, Jimmy, at The Cafe Margaux in Cocoa Village took good care of us.
Jimmy has been awarded a golden Hockey Stick by the owner of Cafe Margaux. It indicates Jimmy’s talent for fast and reliable service as well as an agility for response to any and all situations.
And so, he quickly delivered a Canyon Road Moscato, California, 2017.
And a Melange of Fresh Seafood: a trio of seafood with unique sauces.
Ribeye Au Poivre Vert, an 18 ounce Prime, Boneless, Ribeye with brandied Green Peppercorn Sauce, Greek Roasted Potatoes and Asparagus.
For dessert: Creme Brulee…..
…..and Pistachio cake.
As we were leaving, I took a quick photo of the extensive bar.
And a peek at the fine wines.
This mural, spotted on the side of a local bank,sums up the spirit of our visit to Cocoa Village: happy, tropical, and historically interesting.
We have not yet planned the next excursion. Let’s just see where curiosity and interest take us next!!!