Historic Downtown Stuart is situated along the shores of the St. Lucie River and led the way on the Treasure Coast as a National Main Street City to restore and revitalize this quaint waterfront community. Today the downtown urban district is thriving with an abundance of unique opportunities for dining, shopping, visiting art galleries, attending a play or concert at the Historic Lyric Theatre or the Riverwalk Stage on the boardwalk or simply strolling along the paver lined streets.
In the 1700s, several Spanish galleons shipwrecked in the Martin County area of Florida’s Treasure Coast, the multiple wrecks were reportedly the result of a hurricane, and the ships were carrying unknown quantities of gold and silver. Some of this treasure has since been recovered, and its presence resulted in the region’s name.
The Treasure Coast area that became Stuart was first settled by non-Native Americans in 1870. In 1875, a United States Lifesaving Station was established on Hutchinson Island, near Stuart. Today, the station is known as Gilbert’s Bar House of Refuge and is on the National Register of Historic Places. When Stuart was incorporated as a town in 1914, it was located in Palm Beach County. In 1925, Stuart was chartered as a city and named the county seat of the newly created Martin County.
One of the Treasure Coast’s most delightful and edifying attractions is the self-guided walking tour of the quaint and beautifully restored historic downtown district of Stuart, the county seat. Three dozen commercial and residential buildings comprise the self-guided historical walking tour. Several date back to the 19th century. The Stuart Branch of the American Association of University Women publishes a free brochure with a map and detailed histories of each site on the tour, which is available at retail establishments throughout downtown.
The city of Stuart is known as the Sailfish Capital of the World, because of the many sailfish found in the ocean off Martin County. With miles and miles of pristine waterways that include the St. Lucie River, the Indian River and the Atlantic, water sports of all types are abundant.