Enterprise, a small town in Volusia County, Florida, was once a bustling steamboat terminus that played a significant role in the region’s economic growth during the mid-19th century.
Founded in 1841, it was home to several essential establishments, including a grist mill, sawmill, church, school, and stores, making it a popular destination for visitors, including prominent figures like Ulysses S. Grant, Grover Cleveland, and William Jennings Bryan.
Even Harriet Beecher Stowe, the author of the famous anti-slavery novel ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin,’ wrote about the town, increasing its popularity.
However, with the growth of neighboring Deland, the county seat was moved away in 1889, causing a significant decline in the town’s prosperity.
Moreover, the freezes of the late 1890s damaged the citrus groves, and the advent of railroads made steamship lines obsolete, dealing a severe blow to the town’s economy.
As a result, Enterprise became a ghost town, with only a few remnants of its past glory remaining.
Despite this, there are ongoing efforts to preserve its history and protect its rural character, which will be the focus of this article.
- Enterprise was a thriving steamboat terminus in the mid-19th century, with notable visitors such as Ulysses S. Grant, Grover Cleveland, and William Jennings Bryan.
- The town experienced significant decline due to the county seat being moved away in 1889, the freezes of the late 1890s damaging citrus groves, and railroads making steamship lines obsolete.
- Ongoing preservation efforts have been made to protect Enterprise’s history and rural character, including rescuing and renovating neglected sites, discovering the graves of hundreds of slaves in the Enterprise Cemetery, and developing an Enterprise Local Plan to protect the community’s rural character.
- The old downtown area is planned to be designated as a historic district for further protection of historic buildings and sites, and the Enterprise Preservation Society has ensured that the town is protected and designated as a community of special interest by the county.
History and Growth
The history of Enterprise dates back to its founding in 1841. The town experienced significant growth as a thriving steamboat terminus from Jacksonville, establishing various businesses, including a grist mill, sawmill, church, school, and stores. The Brock Hotel and steamship landing significantly contributed to the town’s growth, making it Central Florida’s first hotel. Notable guests such as Grover Cleveland, Ulysses S. Grant, and William Jennings Bryant visited the town, with Harriet Beecher Stowe writing about it, increasing its popularity.
Despite its early influences and notable guests, Enterprise faced economic decline due to natural disasters. The freezes of the late 1890s damaged citrus groves, which made steamship lines obsolete. This decline, coupled with the larger growth of Deland, eventually led to the county seat being taken away in 1889. The once-thriving steamboat terminus gradually turned into a ghost town.
Changes Over Time
Throughout its history, Enterprise experienced growth and decline, with changes that have left an indelible mark on the town. Several buildings once the pride of the community, such as the post office and Brock Hotel, were abandoned and have since disappeared. The town’s economic decline was brought on by several factors, including the damage caused by freezes in the late 1890s, which destroyed the citrus groves and made steamship lines obsolete.
The decline in business meant that the town was no longer a thriving steamboat terminus, and it gradually became a ghost town. Despite the changes, there are efforts to preserve the town’s heritage. The Enterprise Cemetery, which had been neglected for years, has recently undergone renovation, and the graves of hundreds of slaves have been discovered.
The town’s old schoolhouse has been rescued and moved to a new location, where it will become a museum and heritage center. The Enterprise Preservation Society has also been instrumental in ensuring that the town is protected and designated as a community of special interest by the county. However, the town’s abandoned buildings serve as a reminder of a time when Enterprise was a thriving community, and the efforts to preserve the town’s heritage are a testament to the resilience of its people.
Efforts to preserve the heritage of Enterprise, a once-thriving steamboat terminus turned ghost town, are currently underway. One of the main initiatives is renovating neglected sites, such as the Enterprise Cemetery. Through this project, the graves of possibly hundreds of slaves were discovered and efforts are being made to clean up the black section and mark neglected locations.
Additionally, the old schoolhouse has been rescued and moved to a new location, where it will become a museum and heritage center owned by the Enterprise Preservation Society, Inc. Community involvement has also played a significant role in the preservation efforts in Enterprise.
The Enterprise Preservation Society, incorporated in 2000 to save the town from being annexed by Deltona, has succeeded in having Enterprise designated as a community of special interest by the county. Furthermore, the county is currently developing an Enterprise Local Plan to protect the rural character of the community and planning to designate the old downtown area as a historic district for further protection of historic buildings and sites.
Through these efforts, Enterprise’s rich history and heritage will be preserved for future generations to appreciate and learn from.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are there any plans to revive the steamship lines in Enterprise?
No plans have been announced to revive steamship lines in Enterprise. However, the town’s history as a steamboat terminus and its location on the St. Johns River suggest potential for tourism development related to riverboat cruises or other water-based activities.
What was the main reason for Deland taking the county seat away from Enterprise?
DeLand’s rivalry with Enterprise and the economic decline caused by freezes in the late 1890s led to the county seat being removed from Enterprise in 1889.
How many buildings from the original town are still standing today?
Only a few original buildings remain in Enterprise today, but their architectural significance and historic preservation are important. The Enterprise Preservation Society has rescued and relocated the old schoolhouse, which will become a museum/heritage center.
Have any notable celebrities visited Enterprise recently?
There is no information on recent visits by notable celebrities to Enterprise. However, the Enterprise Preservation Society is planning upcoming events and attractions to promote the town’s history and heritage, including a museum in the old schoolhouse. Local attractions include the renovated Enterprise Cemetery and historic downtown district.
What is the current population of Enterprise?
Despite its rich history, there is no current population data available for Enterprise. However, the county is developing economic development plans and efforts to protect the town’s rural character, including designating the old downtown area as a historic district.