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Lake Beresford History:

The settlement of Beresford, which was originally located directly across the lake form 1903 Hontoon, was first established by Europeans during the British occupation of Florida (1763-83).  The Honorable and Reverend William Beresford was given two land grants of 20,000 acres each where he built a plantation on the east side of Lake Beresford and grew sugar cane and indigo.

It isn’t until 1851 there is mention of new white settlers to the Beresford area when Captain John W. Stark came to Beresford.  Captain Stark’s father had settled in DeLeon Spring in 1840. Though the Beresford Settlement never became a particularly large settlement, it was important as a landing for steam ships traveling up and down the St. John’s River, bringing supplies and passengers to DeLand and other towns along the St. Johns between Lake Monroe to the South and upstream to Jackson to the North.

During World War II Beresford Landing was the location of a ship builder, specializing in tug boats.  In fact, marinas and ship builders were abundant along Lake Beresford between the end of the War and up through the 1980’s.  It was during this period that 1903 became the St. John’s Boat Works.  Rails were laid going down the embankment and boats were winched out of the water and brought to shore for repairs and maintenance.  A pole barn was erected to provide protection for the boats and workers and was eventually replaced by the present structure.  A manager’s house was built on site to provide housing for the boat work’s foreman as well as on site security for the boats.

This property has had a number of colorful owners including Roy Simms who owned both 1903 and 1905 Hontoon Road at one point in time.  He owned 1903 and then acquired 1905 in 1978 when his good friend and neighbor Buck Heirs was accused of committing a double homicide and needed cash to pay for his defense. Roy came to Buck’s rescue and took the property in exchange for paying for his lawyers.  Simms eventually sold 1903 and separated the two parcels. 

1903 Hontoon Road was also owed by John Cunningham Whitehead, who served as deputy Secretary of State during President Ronald Reagan’s administration from 1985 until 1989 and is currently serving as the chairman of the World Trade Center Memorial Foundation (WTC Memorial Foundation. It was Secretary Whitehead who requested and was granted riparian rights from the State of Florida for this parcel in order to accommodate his yacht.  The pier where the Whitehead yacht was moored and the canal used to draw vessels up for repair are still in tack and today serve for recreational boating and temporary docking.

 

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1903 Hontoon Rd.,
DeLand, Florida 32720
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