About Port Orange
Port Orange has a desirable, subtropical climate, typical of the region. Summers are hot and humid with highs usually in the 90s and a heat index often exceeding 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Thunderstorms are frequent on summer afternoons and the hot, humid weather can last right through the fall months. Winters are usually dry and mild, but can be peppered with series of cold fronts dropping temperatures into the 30s (F), but only occurring occasionally. The year round average temperature holds steady at about 70 (F).
Today, health care, education, and government are the area’s most prominent employers. Port Orange boasts an abundance of medical and health care providers, suppliers, and manufacturers, including the new Halifax Hospital and Palmer College of Chiropractic. New home construction has been on the rise since 2012.
Spruce Creek and Ponce Inlet
Spruce Creek is a large part of the Port Orange community providing home to the world’s largest fly-in community. Fly–ins, as many call them, incorporate the melding of an airport and suburban subdivision where homes have hangars and roads double as taxiways. To witness a car, golf cart, and airplane all traveling together on the same street is not unusual. Some residents are a little more enthusiastic about aviation than others are. Many are professional pilots, while others are doctors, lawyers, or residents simply enjoying their retirement. Regardless of profession, it is a given that most of the locals are stable financially in order to maintain their lifestyles. It is not uncommon for a couple to jump in their plane and fly to another airport for lunch. This brings out the true meaning of the $200 hamburger. Not long ago John Travolta kept a home at the Spruce Creek Fly-In for a time until issues developed accommodating his personal 707 luxury jet. He later moved his planes to Ocala, Florida.
Ponce Inlet was originally explored and founded by Juan Ponce Deleon in 1513. The area is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean to the east, inlet to the south, and intercostal waterway to the west. It is most famous for being the home to the tallest masonry lighthouse in Florida standing 175 ft. in height. Originally going into service in 1887, the lighthouse is still accommodating visitors today allowing them to climb the 203 steps to the top and enjoy the awesome views of the World’s Most Famous Beach. The area took the name “Mosquito Inlet” after the purchase of ten acres of land on March 21, 1883. In 1928, its name was officially changed in to Ponce Inlet.
Heading south toward the inlet is the North Turn Restaurant famously known for its being the location of the north turn of the old 23 mile, “Daytona Beach Road Course”, (now in the present-day town of Ponce Inlet). At the southern tip of the peninsula is the scenic fishing village of Ponce Inlet. Local charter fishing boats are located here, along with several of the area’s best seafood restaurants. The last sizable gated development before the inlet is Harbour Village with over 700 condominiums and town homes. Few scattered vacant lots remain, and residents in this secluded, small town usually realize strong appreciation on their Real Estate investments.
History of Port Orange
The Timucuan and Seminole Indians initially inhabited Port Orange during the sixteenth century. By the mid eighteenth century, Dr. Andrew Turnbull’s New Smyrna Colony was growing full of settlers, and plantations began to flourish. In 1804, Patrick Dean was granted 995 acres from the Spanish Crown, which was later named the Dunlawton Plantation. The Dunlawton Sugar Mill still stands today even though the Seminole Indians twice destroyed it during the war in 1836.
The next phase of growth for Port Orange came just after the Civil War when Dr. John M. Hawks, a United States Army surgeon, and abolitionist, gathered Union Army officers and formed the Florida Land and Lumber Company. He brought 500 freed slaves and claimed public lands north of Spruce Creek in 1866. The area was originally referred to as Mosquito Inlet, but was officially changed to Port Orange in 1867. The colony struggled soon after its creation due to a poor economy and thin harvests, and most of the colonists left. The area became known as Freemanville as a legacy of the settlers that held on in the area. Now, unofficially located between Orange Avenue and Charles Street, all that remains of this small freed slave community today is the Mount Moriah Baptist Church (built in 1911) on Orange Ave., and still provides a place of worship to some remaining descendants of those original settlers.
In 1906, the first bridge made of sable palm pilings and pine was assembled as a crossing as access to the peninsula and inlet. It was owned by S.H. Gove and after its completion was offered for sale to Volusia County. The bridge was severely damaged and torn down in 1932 due to a severe hurricane. It was just over 19 years before a second bridge replaced the original with a 2-lane drawbridge paid for by tolls. After the drawbridge aged, and became too expensive to maintain, it was replaced in 1990 by a new four-lane high bridge, which carries Florida State Road A-1-A over the river as a by-pass south around the inlet. The Florida State Legislature designated the new bridge as the “Congressman William V. Chappel Jr. Memorial Bridge.”