Feb. 24: Three Historic Landmarks Dedicated In Switzerland, Florida

The Bennett House at Alpine Groves Park. Photo by bartramscenichighway.com

St. Johns County Parks & Recreation and the Stetson Kennedy Foundation are working closely together to recognize these buildings so that generations to follow will know their stories and the people who kept them alive.

On February 24 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., attendees will gather at ONE location for all three dedications at the Bennett Farmhouse, located on the St. Johns River at Alpine Groves Park (2060 State Road 13, Switzerland, Florida 32259).

Coordinated by Karen Roumillat board member of the Stetson Kennedy Foundation and the St. Johns County Parks & Recreation employees, Karen has a long time relationship with all three locations  “St. Johns, as it is now known, includes the areas also known as Fruit Cove, Switzerland, Orangedale and more. Celebrations like this, honoring our local history, are a delightful way for all residents of our fast-growing community to come together, get to know each other and learn about our rich past.”

Built in 1886 by Robert Willis as a winter season home, the Bennett House was purchased in 1899 by Robert Ellis Brooker and Julia Church Brooker. Their legacy expanded to own the Hartley Store on Rt. 13 next door to the Switzerland Post Office. Robert was the postmaster from 1921-1941 and followed by his postmistress wife until 1955.

The Hartley Store was built around 1930 and is currently ‘open for business’ as Andrew’s Homestead, a deliciously historic little  country market. Its legacy spans nearly 75 years as a locally-owned general store by the Leonard and Evelyn Hartley family since 1945. Many local residents have fond memories of sitting on the porch, visiting with friends and catching up on the local news of their community.

Stetson Kennedy’s home Beluthahatchee  was built in 1973 and although not quite 50 years old, has been designated a St. Johns County Historic Landmark because of its historical significance. It was twice designated a literary landmark honoring Stetson Kennedy (pioneer folklorist, American author and human rights activist) and Woody Guthrie (American singer-songwriter and one of the most significant figures in American folk music).

At the conclusion of the dedication, visitors are cordially invited to visit Hartley Store, now Andrew’s Homestead (2040 State Road 13) and Beluthahatchee Park (1523 State Road 13) that will be open to the public until 1:00pm.


For more information about the event or the Stetson Kennedy Foundation, contact:  Karen Roumillat at 904-707-5207.


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