War along the river
Vero Beach Bridge was one of three manned drawbridges that helped keep Vero Beach residents safe during World War II. JANET WALKER ANDERSON PHOTOS

War along the river

There was a time when bridge tenders weren’t just maintaining the safe passage of water and vehicle traffic. Other voluntary duties came in handy when World War II broke out.

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Centennial calendar
These young Indian River County musicians and many more of their peers will be taking part in Vero Centennial activities during the year-long celebration.NICOLAS ELLIS

Centennial calendar

October 2018 - October 2019 Centennial Events.

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Cornucopia of creativity
In the early days of Vero Beach, Florida Theatre on 14th Avenue was the center of entertainment for the community. BRACKETT COLLECTION, ARCHIVE CENTER, IRC MAIN LIBRARY

Cornucopia of creativity

In the 1920s, even before there was an Indian River County, there was entertainment. Movies were shown at Vero Theatre, where, it’s said, Sheriff Billy Frick and his wife, Adelaide, former entertainers, created Vero Follies, featuring talented people from the community. The Civic Players presented plays in the 1930s and the seasonal Tourist Club had a mixed chorus that sang in community concerts and put on variety shows.

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From barren to beautiful
The first House of Refuge in Florida, built by the U.S. Lifesaving Service at Bethel Creek in 1876, was one of the first European-style buildings constructed on what is now Vero Beach. The Houses of Refuge were built along Florida’s coast line to provide a safe haven for people shipwrecked. The houses were located about 15 to 20 miles apart, a day’s walk from one another. This photo of the House of Refuge at Bethel Creek was taken in 1908. VANDIVEER COLLECTION, ARCHIVE CENTER, IRC MAIN LIBRARY

From barren to beautiful

With mosquitoes as thick as the dense palmettos and being only accessible by boat, the barrier island of Vero Beach was deemed uninhabitable by early settlers.

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Center of progress
Downtown Vero Beach has changed since its incorporation in 1919, yet it continues to maintain its quaint feel with a nod to its historical past. CHRISTINA TASCON

Center of progress

When walking the streets of downtown Vero Beach today, it is difficult for anyone to imagine the Vero of 100 years ago. By 1919, when the small hamlet of Vero was officially born (“Beach” would not be added to the name for six years), the population was less than 800 souls, for the most part farming families who came here to leave the cold north behind for the promise of a better life. What there was of downtown existed primarily at the intersection of Osceola Boulevard and Seminole Avenue, now 20th Street (State Road 60) and 14th Avenue.

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Never the same
Wally Skiscim, second serviceman from the right, enjoyed dancing at the USO parties. He returned to Vero Beach after the war to marry Mary Anne Maher. COURTESY OF SKISCIM PHOTOS, ARCHIVE CENTER, IRC MAIN LIBRARY

Never the same

World War II brought permanent changes to the homefront, even to towns as small as Vero Beach in the early 1940s.

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Century of progress

Like many latter-day retirees who visit towns up and down Florida’s east coast before deciding to settle in Vero Beach, a Vermonter named Henry T. Gifford checked out Titusville, Fort Pierce and the swamps now known as Miami before moving to Vero in 1887, when it was unnamed, unknown and mostly uninhabited.

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Property pioneer
Color-tinted photograph of Arthur Mayfield Hill and Catherine Richey Hill hangs on the living room wall of Linda Hill, widow of Hill’s grandson Arthur M. Hill III. It probably dates from the Hill family’s early days in Vero around 1920. LINDA HILL

Property pioneer

Of all the people remembered during the celebration of Vero Beach’s centennial this year, citrus developer and businessman Arthur Mayfield Hill may be one of the most underappreciated.

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