Last month, we had the opportunity to meet author Patrick Merrell at the Pareidolia Brewing Company, where he presented a slideshow about former President Grover Cleveland. Merrell was also there to introduce a new beer named after Cleveland called Grover’s Glass Lager.
During the slideshow, we learned Cleveland’s connection to Sebastian, and that he was the only President to have a beer in Indian River County.
Cleveland came to Sebastian at the end of his second presidency around 1897 to hunt and fish with Frank Forster, Paul Kroegel and his guides.
While in town, Cleveland vacationed at the Ercildoune Hotel, which sat on a hill near the waterfront. The hotel was located at the corner of Indian River Drive and U.S. Highway 1 near the St. Sebastian Bridge. The hotel was built in 1889 by L.C. Moore.
The Ercildoune Hotel charged $3 per day, per person, breakfast & lunch was 75 cents, and dinner was $1.
“There wasn’t much around at the time, there was the hotel, there was an orange grove, and not much else here in Sebastian,” Merrell explained.
The area is currently known as Moore’s Point near Roseland and is sponsored by the Indian River County Historical Society.
The St. Sebastian Bridge divides Indian River County and Brevard County. Moore’s Point, where there are picnic tables, was settled by aboriginal people, the Ais. To this day, pottery shards and ancient shells can still be found along the shoreline.
The bridge replaced an old wooden bridge that was built in 1909. Prior to that time, a ferry was used to carry people and their vehicles across the waterway.
In 1924, the famous Ashley Gang was killed on the south end of the bridge.
Here are some amazing facts that Patrick Merrell provided:
- Grover Cleveland was the only non-consecutive President. He was both the 22nd and 24th President of the United States. Cleveland won the popular vote in three elections but lost to the electoral college.
- He was the only President who was married in the White House, which happened in 1886, and the only President to have a baby born in the White House.
- In 1914, he was on the $20 bill, and then in 1928, he moved to the $100 bill, which was taken out of circulation in 1969.
- The Baby Ruth candy bar was supposedly named for his daughter Baby Ruth and not for the baseball player. The candy bar maker wanted to get publicity from people thinking it was named after Babe Ruth. But, they called it Baby Ruth so they wouldn’t have to pay royalties.
“Grover Cleveland’s rise was very rapid after being elected mayor of Buffalo in 1882. One year later, he was elected Governor of New York, and two years after that he was the President of the United States,” Merrell said.
Merrell said Cleveland’s three great loves were fishing, hunting, and drinking beer. Cleveland had a significant connection to beer.
“He was a big beer drinker, especially back in Buffalo, and in fact, he owned stock in a brewery and was once the attorney for the Brewers Association” Merrell added.
In Sebastian, there’s a street named after Grover Cleveland known as Cleveland Street. Coincidentally, the Pareidolia Brewing Company is located at 712 Cleveland Street.
Watch for Merrell’s article about Grover Cleveland’s connection to our area in the September issue of Vero Beach Magazine.