Frank Stranahan and Ivy Cromartie Stranahan are proof that two individuals can absolutely change the course of history. Visitors to the Historic Stranahan House Museum in Fort Lauderdale, Florida learn how Mr. Stranahan and his wife Ivy shaped not just Broward County history, but the history of the entire state of Florida. Built in 1901, the Stranahan House is the oldest home in Broward County. Over the course of its existence it operated as a bank, boarding house, community center, restaurant, and trading post. Now guided tours of the historic residence are offered daily at 1 p.m., 2 p.m., and 3 p.m.
A tour of the Stranahan House is a lesson in south Florida history, a lesson on the lives of one of Florida’s most influential couples, and a lesson on the history of the Seminole Indians. The historic house is filled with furniture from the 1900s. Many of the pieces have interesting stories associated with them. The docents are extremely knowledgeable about the home’s history.
Frank Stranahan set up residence in Fort Lauderdale, Florida in 1893. He was 27 years old and was hired to manage his cousin’s camp and ferry. He did business with the Seminole Indians after he gain their trust as someone who would trade fairly with them. The trading post was later moved farther west along the New River settlement. Stranahan had become the postmaster by then.
In 1899 Ivy Julia Cromartie was hired by the county board of education to teach nine students in the area. She and Frank were married in 1900. As a married woman, Ivy gave up her paid teaching position. But she went on to offer informal lessons to the Seminole children that lived in her community.
Frank built the Stranahan House in 1901. It operated as a trading post (on the lower floor) and a community hall (on the upper floor). He later expanded his businesses to include a bank and a general store. Frank went on to acquire, then later donate, property that expanded his community. He and Ivy emerged as leaders in the New River area of Fort Lauderdale.
After her husband’s untimely death in 1929, Ivy Stranahan continued to leave her mark on the Broward County community. She became a member of the city’s planning and zoning committees. She lobbied the U.S. government. Mrs. Stranahan established the Friends of the Seminoles and founded Broward County chapters of the Red Cross and Campfire Girls. She remained in her home until she passed away at age 90 in 1971.
Mrs. Stranahan left her home to the Seventh Day Adventist Church, which she had been a member starting in 1915. The home was later purchasd by the Fort Lauderdale Historical Society in 1975. A restoration project began in 1980. The Stranahan House, Inc. became a non-profit entity in 1981. By 1984 the restoration was completed, and the Historic Stranahan House was opened to the public as a museum. Thousands visit the historic home every year. Many of the visitors are school children.
Historic Stranahan House Museum is located at 335 Southeast 6th Avenue, Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33301. It is just off Las Olas Boulevard on the New River. The museum can be reached at: 954-524-4736. It is closed on major holidays. Visit the website for specific information.