The Indian River County Historical Society, Inc., established in 1983, is a private, non-profit organization with a simple mission statement to save, preserve, and restore the historical and environmental resources of Indian River County. In order to accomplish this, the Society works with state and local governments, organizations, foundations, and citizens to raise monies for historical preservation projects and educational programs.
For over twenty years, the Indian River County Historical Society has contributed to preserving the historical and environmental resources of Indian River County, the Indian River Lagoon area, and the State of Florida. From advocacy leadership to countywide programs, the Society has continued good stewardship and sound educational practices. Some of our most successful projects have been:
- Saving Jungle Trail" a 7.5-mile greenway
- Managing a countywide historic marker program
- Participating in historical property surveys for Vero Beach, Indian River County, and Fellsmere
- Launching a countywide archaeological survey for Indian River County
- Listing a number of historic places and sites on the National Register
- And publishing numerous articles, brochures, and an official history book, A History of Indian River County, "A Sense of Place."
The Indian River County Historical Society has acquired these historic properties for the public to enjoy:
- 1903 Vero Beach Railroad Station in downtown Vero Beach purchased for $1.00.
- 1918 Hallstrom House and five adjoining acres on Old Dixie Highway in south county bequest from a Society member.
Both of these properties are listed on the National Register of Historic Places and are open to the public. A description of these unique properties and the story on how the Society obtained them can be found in the enclosure, or by viewing our Properties page.
Each of these historic buildings, in their own way, offers a distinct look at the history of Indian River County and its rich heritage. They also offer destination points for children, their teachers, and parents to understand and study the history of Indian River County and Florida.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Ruth Stanbridge, President/County Historian - Ruth is a Charter Member since the Society's incorporation in 1983 holding positions of President, Vice President and Project Manager. She currently serves as County Historian (appointed, January 1997) for Indian River County. With a background in natural history, Ruth retired from State of Florida Office of Environmental Services, then served on the County Planning and Zoning Commission and as District 2 Commissioner on Board of County Commissioner. Ruth also finds the time for her historical research and grant writing business. Ruth's historical successes include saving and restoring the Vero Beach RR Station, saving Jungle Trail, restoring the Hallstrom Farmstead's main house, and writing "Special Places." Although born in South Carolina, Ruth has been in Indian River County since the 7th grade, sharing her love of history, particularly the rich and diverse history of Indian River County.
Mark Holt, Vice President- Mark is originally from Connecticut and has been a resident of Indian River County since 1976. He has an extensive background in event planning and fundraising. He has been very active in the Jaycee organization on both local and state level where he has had extensive Leadership Training. He was very active for several years with the Downtown Vero Beach Association now known as Main Street Vero. He has a very strong interest in the promotion and preservation of the history of Indian River County.
Susan Williams, Secretary
Kristina Hofmann -Kristina was born in Stockholm, Sweden. She and her husband settled in NJ, where she worked as RE Broker license for over 30 years, Notary Public for over 25 years, with the New Jersey Dept. of Transportation for 25 years, retiring in 2008. She has been a member for 40 + years of the ASHM (American Swedish Historical Museum) and sat on the Board of Directors for two terms. The Vasa Order of American and SACC (Swedish American Chamber of Commerce) in Philadelphia also holds her interest and involvement. She is a founding member of SACC and remains on the Board of Directors. Vero Beach is her permanent home and she is happy to have joined and become involved with the IRC Historical Society and McKee Botanical Gardens.
Kelly Thompson - Kelly has lived in Indian River County since 2011. After studying art at UCLA, she became interested in historic preservation and was a member of the Los Angeles Conservancy (9 years), the Lighthouse Society (3 years), and the San Pedro Bay Historical Society (2 years). She enjoys art, photography and cooking.
Pat Luther - Pat Luther was born in Fort Pierce before WWII was over. His mother came to Florida when she was 11 years old, settling in Sebastian, Florida. Pat served in the military during the Viet Nam era in the U. S. Army and returned to Vero Beach to be with his family. He loves the simple towns where he was raised (Wabasso and Vero) as well as antiques and is now one of them! Pat is a Vero business owner but his passion is grilling for large crowds. Another of his passions is the history and preservation of old things in Indian River County.
Al Smith - Al is retired from the field of Hospital Administration. His entire career was involved with public health services. A native of Virginia, he moved to Vero Beach in 2000 with his wife, Diane. Al served for a number of years as Volunteer Coordinator for the McKee Botanical Garden before joining the IRCHS. He currently serves as Director of the Hallstrom House/Farmstead.
Penny Chandler Norris - Penny is retired from a 37 year career in Chamber of Commerce management in Pennslyvania, Maryland, and Florida. During her career she oversaw hundreds of events, and served on dozens of local and state non-profit borads and government committees. She also serves on the board of the Vero Beach Dog Park. As a member of the Historical Society Board, she writes media releases and the Society's newsletter, and will assist with governance documents.
John Woods, Technology Advisor
Anna Brady, Historical Advisor
Carolyn Bayless - Carolyn moved to Vero Beach in 1977 from Boca Raton with her husband Fred and daughter Victoria. She taught 38 years in the public school system. Upon retirement, she worked part-time for FAU supervising student teachers and as an Educational Consultant for Houghton Mifflin Harcourt text books. You can find Carolyn on the front porch at the Hallstrom House every Friday when she and her family are not traveling in Europe.
MaryAnne Egan - MaryAnne graduated from Fairleigh Dickinson University, Madison, NJ with a Bachelor of Science in Business and Marketing. She worked as a Marketing Manager, a Director of Customer Service and Supply in the chemical industry for 35 years in NJ and PA. She directed and planned events for customers and after retirment she consulted on customer events. She moved permanently to Vero Beach 2002, where she served on the Community Service Ministry Team at Holy Cross, advisory board of Big Brothers Big Sisters, Indian River County Historical Society, Kidz Closet Charites, and other agencies in Vero Beach and Fellsmere, and ran the Christmas Giving Tree Program at Holy Cross.
Pat Kroger - Pat has a background which includes a BFA Professional Actors Training Program, Ohio University, and graduate studies from the University of South Carolina. She has lived in Flordia since 1986. She has served with the Vero Beach Theatre Guild as an actor, director and Board member and is currently writing one woman show on Ruth Hallstrom. Pat is employed with the Diocese of Palm Beach at Holy Cross Church as the Volunteer coordinator. She is married to Dr. Daniel Kroger.
Linda Luther - Linda Luther is a 6th generation Floridian. She was born in Vero Beach and a lover of her own Vero Beach and Wabasso history in Indian River County. Her grandfather was on the committee that went to Tallahassee to establish Indian River County from St. Lucie. She is married to Pat Luther (a childhood friend) and a mother/grandmother of two more generations of native Floridians. She has a degree in History from University of Central Florida. She is a part of the history of Indian River County! Her parents were active in the Indian River Historical Society from it’s beginning, and she is following their example.
Jonnie Mae Perry - Current Executive Director of the Gifford Community Cultural & Resource Center. The IRCHS has been working with Jonnie Mae on several projects including the Macedonia Church which the Gifford community is turning into a historical museum and also on a historical marker honoring the Gifford High School.
Michelle Wagner - Michelle is a native Floridian, born in Vero Beach and grew up in St. Lucie County. She attended IRSC and UCF, graduating with a BA in Psychology. Michelle is currently the Genealogy Librarian at the Indian River County Main Library. She loves kayaking, going to zoos and museums.
Paige Van Antwerp
Eric Menger - Current Train Engineer at the Vero Beach Train Station & Exhibit Center