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Plans Finalized for Revitalization of the IRSC Historic Coast Guard House

Plans Finalized for Revitalization of the IRSC Historic Coast Guard House

March 28, 2024 Suzanne Seldes

FORT PIERCE, FL—Six months ago, the Indian River State College District Board of Trustees voted unanimously to accept a proposal from Audubon Development Inc. to renovate, redevelop, and revitalize the IRSC Historic Coast Guard House located at 1420 Seaway Drive in Fort Pierce. Audubon has now finalized a comprehensive development plan to transform the historic house into a boutique bed and breakfast with wedding, meeting and event spaces and a bourbon and cigar bar.

IRSC Historic Coast Guard House

According to Dale Matteson, president and CEO of Audubon Development Inc., minimal external changes to the Historic Coast Guard House are required. The main entryway will be moved to the structure's west side, and a new two-story balcony will encompass the north (rear) side. The bulk of the revitalization will occur within the house.

“When viewing the Historic Coast Guard House from the street, you won’t notice much, but the interior will be completely transformed, and the rear of the property will spring to life with patios, a seawall, and docks,” said Matteson. “We’re breathing new life into an historic structure.”

Inside, all four floors of the Historic Coast Guard House will be completely reimagined:

  • Main floor: Elegant entry foyer, service kitchen, main event space with a grand spiral staircase connecting to the basement and second floors, and restrooms.
  • Second floor: Two expansive, self-contained Winward and Leeward suites—half a floor each, complete with living and dining areas—can be entered by the grand spiral staircase or by period-correct exterior staircases connected to private landings; a hidden door reveals a smaller spiral staircase to the third-floor suite.
  • Third floor: The well-appointed Admiral Suite, with access to Crow’s Nest, spans the entire third floor and offers multiple unobstructed views of the intercoastal and surrounding area.
  • Basement level: The floor comprises a private bedroom and bath on one side and a “downtown” bourbon and cigar bar with separate restrooms and an exterior entrance.

Coast Guard House rendering basement and first floor

Historic Coast Guard House Basement and Floor 1, courtesy of Audubon Development Inc.

Historic Coast Guard Building renderings for Floors 2 and 3

Historic Coast Guard House Floors 2 and 3, courtesy of Audubon Development Inc.

Exterior property improvements include dramatic landscaping, elevated outdoor gathering spaces, a fanciful star-shaped dock for dingy and jet ski parking, and a 20-slip boat dock with a 75-foot t-head for a water taxi that will connect the property with the King’s Landing site Audubon is developing in downtown Fort Pierce. A seawall will regain and nourish the lost shoreline.

Historic Coast Guard Building Rendering Outdoor Spaces and Docks

Historic Coast Guard House property and docks, courtesy of Audubon Development Inc.

“We are activating the entire property,” continues Matteson. “We are preserving the House’s historical integrity and repurposing it in a more regal setting.”

Audubon Development expects to select a construction partner by June and complete the project over the following 24 months.

Meanwhile, passersby will already notice “little signs of life,” as Matteson calls them. A large flagpole flies the American flag, and a period-correct mailbox has replaced a long-weathered receptacle. A neighbor provided Matteson with a “foul weather” flag hoisted in times of small craft advisories.

Matteson is heartened by the neighborhood reaction so far and welcomes additional collaboration. He is eager to assemble photographs and artifacts to decorate and share Coast Guard history at the venue. He has reached out to the Coast Guard archives for memorabilia and encourages community members to contact him to contribute additional material to illuminate the House’s history.

“Audubon Development is creating a showpiece for our community and a new, real-world learning environment for students in our Culinary and Hospitality programs,” adds Indian River State College President Dr. Timothy Moore. “Dale and his team are deliberate in their approach to reviving this critical piece of national history. This is one of the area’s most significant revitalization projects and a gem and point of pride for all who live and visit here.”

In addition to providing educational opportunities for Indian River State College students at the Historic Coast Guard House, Audubon has committed 1,200 square feet of retail space for a “Kids are Cooking” restaurant at the King’s Landing Development, a mixed-use project in downtown Fort Pierce comprised of a hotel, residential units, shops, restaurants, and a parking garage. The restaurant will be operated in conjunction with the Indian River State College Culinary program.

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