One of Florida’s biggest mysteries is the ruins of an ancient building located in New Smyrna’s Old Fort Park. The ruins are constructed of coquina block, yet no evidence has been found to explain where the coquina came from or how it got there. Within the ruins, there are areas that appear to have been built for weapons placement, much like an old Spanish fort. But there was never a Spanish settlement in New Smyrna. So … what was this structure, and who built it?
In 1768, Dr. Andrew Turnbull recruited 1,400 British colonists to establish a settlement in Florida. After a 3 month overseas journey, he landed in what is now called New Smyrna Beach. Maps and records from that time period do not mention the existence of a fort. We know that Dr. Turnbull tried to use the colonists to build a very large stone mansion, but by 1778, the colonists revolted and fled the area. Are these ruins the foundation of Turnbull’s failed mansion? Historians say no. They believe he found the ruins and tried to build his mansion on top of them.
In 1783, Dr. Andrew Hull re-established the settlement of New Smyrna. In his writings, he talks about hiring stone masons to build a two story building on a pre-existing foundation. Then in 1854, John D. Sheldon built a forty room hotel on the site of the ruins which was destroyed during the Civil War.
Today, people report seeing a man standing guard atop the ruins, dressed in the uniform of a Spanish soldier from the 16th century. It seems he is looking towards the horizon, perhaps for a ship?