“The Bryans of Fort Lauderdale,” a New Major Exhibition at History Fort Lauderdale in Fort Lauderdale
History Fort Lauderdale
231 SW Second Avenue
History Fort Lauderdale, proud steward of our community’s past by making our heritage accessible and engaging to residents and visitors, invites guests to explore “The Bryans of Fort Lauderdale,” a new major permanent exhibit opening October 1 (members-only preview on September 30 at 6 p.m.). The exhibit will allow visitors to experience the story of the City of Fort Lauderdale as told through the pioneer family that shaped its development from an agricultural outpost in 1896 to a bustling city in the 1920s to its current status as a leading Metropolis. The first major history exhibition in three years, this visually compelling exhibit will occupy half of one of the main upstairs galleries and will remain part of the History Museum’s permanent exhibits. Highlights of the exhibit include New River development pioneer Tom Bryan’s original desk and chair from the 1920s, agricultural artifacts from the early 1900s, a historic hotel register and family photos. The Bryans of Fort Lauderdale, descendants of William Bryan, a Revolutionary War veteran from North Carolina, can be traced back to Florida as early as 1844 with the birth of great grandson Philemon Nathaniel Bryan in Hamilton County. Philemon served in the Confederate Army and moved south to Volusia County after the Civil War. He acquired extensive citrus groves and served as the mayor of New Smyrna. After acquiring wealth and a reputation for his agricultural skills, he and his wife, Lucy, moved further south and arrived on the New River in 1895, where Bryan served as a construction contractor for the Florida East Coast Railway and officer in the first city bank. He and his seven children, including Reed A. Bryan, Tom M. Bryan, Virginia Dallas Bryan and Constance Bryan, along with several relatives, also settled in Fort Lauderdale and helped build it to prominence. They worked as farmers, innkeepers, and businesspeople becoming civic leaders and nurturing the City on its way to prosperity. “The Bryans of Fort Lauderdale” will join other insightful History Fort Lauderdale permanent exhibits including “Juliette Lange: A Portrait of a Mezzo Soprano,” a fashion and lifestyle glimpse of the socially prominent Fort Lauderdale resident with a lauded career as a star vocalist of musical comedy, Seminole Tribal art and artifacts and a multitude of narratives and photos sharing the history of other founding families of Fort Lauderdale. The nonprofit museum also hosts a variety of yearly multicultural exhibits highlighting African American and Afro-Caribbean contributions, Hispanic crafts and local artists. Last year, History Fort Lauderdale, in conjunction with The Florida Humanities Council, launched Florida Stories’ “Walk Fort Lauderdale,” the first FREE Broward County walking tour app (available through the App Store and Google Play). The tour, featuring archival photos, renderings and cultural narratives, allows visitors to learn about the colorful history of Fort Lauderdale at their own pace at 12 significant locations including the New River and Bryan Homes on the History Fort Lauderdale Campus and the Bryan/Abreu building (201 SW 2nd St.). For more information about History Fort Lauderdale, please call (954) 463-4431 or visit us online at historyfortlauderdale.org. Follow us on Facebook at facebook.com/ftlhistory on Instagram @ftlhistory and on Twitter @FLLhistory.