Hobe Sound Facts - Martin County

Lorea Thomson
Posted by Lorea Thomson
Updated on
Published in Arts & Culture

The quaint beach town of Hobe Sound has a couple of interesting tidbits and tales you may not have heard. Here are a handful of interesting facts about the sleepy seaside town of Hobe Sound in Martin County.

  1. In the early 1900s, Hobe Sound was also known as "Olympia" because the 12,000 acres of the Gomez Spanish Land [land in Hobe Sound granted by Spain to Don Eusebio Gomez for his "services to the crown"] was bought by the Olympia Improvement Corp. with the goal to create a Greek town where movies could be filmed and produced. They built a Greek-style school, installed architectural lamp posts, and named the streets after Greek and Roman gods which still bear them today, like Athena, Olympus, Mars, Apollo, Adonis, Mercury, and Saturn streets, all around Zeus Park on the south side of Bridge Road. The dream ended at the start of the Great Depression.
  2.  Before WWII in the late 1930s, the land where the Jonathan Dickinson preserve is, was an Army training facility called "Camp Murphy." The 11,000-acre camp instructed soldiers how to repair and operate military radars. It accommodated nearly 900 officers and 6,000 enlisted men and incorporated nearly 1,000 buildings including a bank, movie theater, church, and bowling alley. The base only operated for about  2 years, but the tens of thousands of men and women who passed through the area resulted in a 100% increase in the population of Martin County. Today, only one Camp Murphy building remains in Jonathan Dickinson State Park.
  3.  In 1930, the infamous trapper/hunter, Vincent "Trapper" Nelson, founded "Trapper Nelson's Zoo and Jungle Gardens" in an area of current-day Jonathan Dickinson State Park. He filled the zoo with wild animals he captured around the Loxahatchee River to supplement his livelihood. The zoo became a huge tourist destination, even Gary Cooper visited. Known as the "Wildman of the Loxahatchee," Trapper wrestled alligators and cared for local residents' exotic animals. When he died in 1968, the state acquired Trapper's land and today the site is a part of Jonathan Dickinson State Park.
  4. The well-liked Hobe Sound restaurant, Harry & the Natives, used to be a combination of a restaurant, motel and gas station called "The Cypress Cabins and Restaurant." It opened on Dec. 7, 1941, the same day of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Some might think it would have a bad omen for business, but the tiny restaurant is still up and running.
  5. Hobe Sound has an awareness for the arts. The "Mural Project" headed up by local artist Nadia Utto and 40 additional artists, have completed nearly 20 murals around town with more in the works. Two hour tours are available where you can stop and see 17 large murals in the area, or you can pick up a "map of art" from the Chamber of Commerce and do a self-guided tour.  

That is just the tip of the iceberg,  learn more about this history-filled town.

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