Tampa Bay

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Elliot House Museum Tour & Lunch

Elliot House Museum Tour & Lunch

Tampa Bay
Saturday, June 22, 2019 - 10:30am

By Dan Cabrera: Photos by Dave Hutchinson:
Twenty-two members experienced one of our best events when we visited the Elliott Museum and
House of Refuge in Stuart on an overnight adventure starting on June 21. The early arrivals met for
lunch and then headed for the House of Refuge where we transported to the beginning of its history into the present time. The Houses of Refuge were designated as havens for shipwrecked sailors and travelers along the sparsely populated Atlantic coastline of Florida. Run by the United States Lifesaving Service, the Houses played a critical role in a time when sailing ships dominated world commerce. The historic structure has weathered many storms and provided needed shelter for shipwreck survivors, including those of the Georges Valentine, an Italian brigantine whose wreckage remains just 100 yards off the rocky shoreline, providing an ideal dive site. The House of Refuge at Gilbert’s Bar is the only remaining House of Refuge. Built as one of ten along the east coast of Florida, it is the oldest structure in Martin County and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The next day 22 members gathered at the Elliott Museum. Our docent and Elliott Museum curator, John Gillinan, quickly educated us about the man for whom the Museum was
established, prolific inventor Sterling Elliott. His inventive mind and creative genius developed the first Knot Tying Machine (No.237,966 ), the Low-Wheeled Trotting Sulky (No.494,113), the Elliott Addressing Machine (No.707,961), the sulky wheel with a pneumatic tire (No.487,874), the Ball Bearing (No. 483,836) and most importantly, he worked out the issues of the unequal turning of the front wheels of a vehicle and invented the steering knuckle, or “kingpin”, that would become a critical element in the success of the automobile. As we walked, the curator described the museum’s collection of bicycles and cars, including one of the first steam-operated vehicle. We later entered a room that housed an eclectic collection of cars, a boat and an airplane. This was followed by access to the museum’s garage (not usually available to visitors) where the cars are maintained. The curator completed his contribution to our tour by telling us about the other collections housed in the museum. We then leisurely walked through displays including a Sports memorabilia area of autographed baseballs, bats, and baseball cards. Next came antiques and displays of old-time kitchens, a drugstore counter that served sodas and ice cream, toys, and much more. We left the museum and headed for lunch at the Boat House Restaurant over-looking the St. Lucie River; followed by a stroll on the Riverwalk.

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