These are photos from a visit to New Smyrna Beach – we stopped at the ruins of Sheldon’s Hotel. There’s so many questions about the site. The location rests on an old Native American shell midden, yet the visible foundation is of unknown origin. There seems to be several possibilities, but not enough information exists.
The midden predates the European founding of New Smyrna in 1768. The foundation’s construction date is unknown but it was already in ruins by the 1850s.
Many people refer to the ruins as a fort, but while the foundations appear fort-like, they’re not really up to the duty to be a successful fort. The structure is comprised of coquina blocks, and they are the same type as the Castillo de San Marcos in St. Augustine, however a quick comparison of the two structures reveals just how undersized the walls of this structure are compared to the Castillo.
There are two monuments on the site that describe some of the site’s history:
Site of Sheldon’s New Smyrna Hotel
This coquina foundation rests within a shell midden from the Timucuan Indian Era. Mystery still surrounds the origin of this foundation.
Jane and John Sheldon built a large hotel on this mound circa 1860. During the Civil War, the structure was destroyed by cannon fire from Union ships.
After the Civil War, Jane Sheldon built a smaller structure that served as a pioneer general store, port collector’s office, boarding house and print shop, which published The Florida Star, one of the region’s early newspapers. Structural problems forced the building’s removal circa 1900.
Placed by Jane Sheldon Chapter in 2010
Daughters of the American Revolution
New Smyrna Beach, Florida
And an earlier plaque states:
To commemorate the one hundredth anniversary of the shelling and burning of the Sheldon House on this site July 26th during the War Between the States by Union Gunboats Oleander and Bouregard
Erected by the Volusia County Historical Commission