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Rooted in Tradition…Growing a Vision

The Spirit of Sebastian community currently being developed west of Old Dixie Highway and south of CR-512 will feature 586 homesites on approximately 182 acres will be the Treasure Coast’s very first Agrihood. Its emphasis is sustainable living in harmony with the local eco-system, and farm-to-table living.

But Spirit of Sebastian is more than homes and gardens; it's also testament to the spirit of the original fishing families that shaped the very essence of the area. The developer's team crafted the tagline “Rooted in Tradition… Growing a Vision” as way of paying homage to Sebastian’s fishing village history.



“Instead of calling the sections of the development pods, phases or villages, we opted to call them “landings” and name them after the historic local fish houses and the families who operated them.”


 

Rooted in Tradition

The first landing being developed is named Judah Landing after Bascomb Judah.

In 1941, family patriarch, Bascomb Judah, and son, James Coolidge Judah, moved to Sebastian at the urging of Bascomb's brother, Archie Smith, who owned a wholesale fishing business. The Judahs were sharecroppers in Florida's Panhandle, but Smith described Sebastian as a fishing paradise on the water. The Judah’s lived on the end of the Archie Smith dock and they started fishing and Coolidge Judah feel in love with it. Eventually, they wanted to start their own business and purchased property down the road.

The business opened in September 1949, and started as a wholesale market. Customers started asking if they could buy a fish or two, and then they asked if the fish could be cleaned for them and a family retail business was born.


When Judah's uncle, Clarence Hoover Judah, returned home from the Air Force, he took over the retail sales part of the business. The business remained family-owned through Clarence Judah's death in 1979, and Coolidge's death in 2014. Judah and Sons was passed to their children. Clarence Judah's widow, Dot Judah, remained an active part-owner of the business, helping with bookkeeping and tax records. The couple's son, Greg Judah, worked with Kevin Judah and his siblings in the business and retail sales until Greg's death in 1991.


The next landing will be named after Archie Smith and will be developed in 2 phases. Archie Smith Landing East will be developed first, followed by Archie Smith Landing West.

In 1924, Archie Smith came from South Port, Florida where he was cutting cross-ties for the railroad. His best friend Mr. George W. Knight told Archie he knew of an easier and better way to make a living which was to go and fish for the Semblers, a commercial fishing family with deep roots in the town of Sebastian. Archie and his family were happy with Sebastian and he decided to become a fish dealer himself. He established his business north of the Semblers.


The site included an expanded house, a shed for net storage, a crab house, a fish house, and extensive docks. The business office was built in 1927, and the ice house (originally Old Roseland Railroad Depot) was built in 1931. Smith purchased the property in 1927 and established a fishing business.

Sebastian’s local fishermen worked primarily at night in the Indian River and brought their fish in during the early morning hours. The fish would then be cleaned and packed in barrels with shaved ice, placed on a trolley, and pushed manually to Indian River Drive. Trucks would then transport the seafood to the railway before being delivered to cities like New York.


On October 28, 1994, the fish house was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. This acquisition eliminates future high-density residential or commercial development on this parcel; however, the Ice House structure over the water at Archie Smith Fish House met its demise in March 2022 as the County decided to remove the structure for safety reasons.


 

Growing a Vision


Spirit of Sebastian seeks to combine the area’s rich and unique history with a vision of the future in this exciting project. In the heart of our agrihood, Heritage Hall rises with a nod to Sebastian’s early days. The 4,500 sq ft social center, crafted with exposed post and beam, pays homage to the architectural roots of Sebastian, creating a space that seamlessly blends the old with the new.


Exclusive builders, Ryan Homes and Holiday Builders expect to open their models this May. Spirit of Sebastian will boast all of the amenities of a modern community but with a focus on sustainable living. Community gardens, dark-sky-friendly lighting, underground utilities, natural gas, and low impact development are just a few more reasons to learn more at www.spiritfl.com


(Photos: From top left: Sebastian Train Depot built in 1893; Heritage Hall, the social center and heart of Spirit of Sebastian, Bascomb Judah family, taken by Chick Allen and on display at Fishermen's Landing, Arhie Smith Wholesale Fish Company, demolished in March of 2022)


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