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Old Smyrna: 1936

Old Smyrna: 1936

Volusia County, Florida, circa 1936. "Ruins of monastery, New Smyrna. Mission Atocuimi de Jororo." Photo by Frances Benjamin Johnston. View full size.


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Dreams of European ruins

That's what I was thinking about, looking at this picture. During the three glorious years we spent in Germany, I spent hours looking at ruins and imagining what had happened there. I was going to comment on how I wished we had some old ruins like this old "mission" here in Utah. Then, I read the comments, and the article from the link provided by Will C. Now, I have visions of human beings being forced to do backbreaking work and treated like animals, while a couple of fat cats sat back and stole their earnings. I hope the Seminoles liberated the slaves and offered them a chance to build a life for themselves.

The Loop

Just to the north of this site, is a historic drive referred to as "The Loop" ( It too has a sugar mill remains. If you are down here, be sure to drive it. This is what Old Florida looked like. It consists of part of the Old Dixie Highway and winds through two state parks. Besides the plantation there is a 400 year old live oak tree. You will drive on a two lane highway covered by live oak and Spanish moss. Probably the best tourist attraction no body has ever heard of in Central Florida.

Historical Fiction

The myth of a romantic Olde Spanish outpost was still strong when these ruins were photographed, but the historical reality was much different and not so charming. The stone ruins are all that is left of a 19th Century slave-labor sugar plantation, built about 1832 by two New Yorkers and burned in a Seminole uprising three years later. The completely fictional Spanish mission legend was apparently first concocted in the 1890s by the property's owner, who hoped to snare a few more tourist dollars than a burned 60-year-old sugar mill could attract. A detailed account is at

Your choice

You can either walk under the arch or just go around via the left side, take your pick.

Historical Error

At least the ruins are on Old Mission Road, but they're from an 1830s sugar mill built by the English during their time running Florida.

Oops, another historical error. I should say it was built by Americans during the Territorial days.

Old Sugar Mill Ruins

It seems that the identification of these ruins with a spanish mission is disputed. The site was certainly home to a sugar mill burned down in 1835 during the Seminole War.

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