How and when Potsdam was changed to Stuart, Florida
The name of the small settlement called Potsdam was changed to Stuart in July of 1895 shortly after the first community church was built near the railroad tracks.
According to Josephine Kitching Taylor, wife of the late John E. Taylor, former Stuart mayor and noted community leader, the name was changed to Stuart because it embarrassed her mother and other women to hear the railroadsmen refer to Potsdam as “Dampots.” (The Stuart News, October 10, 1973)
The first railway depot was located on the north side of the St. Lucie River. The land for the depot was donated by Homer Hine Stuart, Jr. “Stuart on the St. Lucie. A Pictorial History” by Sandra Henderson Thurlow contains an image of the letter to James R. Parrott, Flagler’s second in command, written by Homer Stuart’s brother, Inglis, and dated March 28th, 1893. In it be says Homer planned to give land to the Jacksonville, St. Augustine and Indian River Railway for a railroad station to be named “Stuart’s Crossing.
Mr. Stuart, Jr. came to Florida from New York in 1883. He bought the land on the north side of the St. Lucie River, built a bungalow, and commenced to grow pineapples. Homer’s fiancee, Margaret Kenney, declined to come to Florida and Homer returned north. He married his fiancee in Athens, New York, on October 3, 1888.
The first train rolled across the St. Lucie River in the spring of 1894. In 1894, Henry Flagler built a railroad line that connected Miami to Jacksonville, running through Stuart. The railway was a significant milestone in the history of Florida and helped advanced the economic growth of the region.
Walter Kitching, who came to Florida in 1883, persuaded the Florida East Coast officials to move the train depot to the south side of the river, when the company was laying tracks into his territory. The depot was moved and Mr. Kitching then, in early 1897, built a general merchandise store directly across the street from the relocated FEC depot.
The 1895 Church of StuArt is a historical building of the first community church, also known as the Pioneer Church (the oldest church building in Martin County), built in Stuart in 1895! Your donations help us maintain, restore, and preserve the building, and also continue our research and share historical information and articles. We greatly appreciate your support! The donations are not tax deductible.
Visit our historical building of the first church built in Stuart in 1895. Enjoy the building’s history and fine art by our local artists. We are located in Downtown Stuart: 311 SW 3rd St., Stuart, FL 34994