Ownership Records

Tracing the true ownership of lands on both North and South Hutchinson Islands is very challenging. Many things complicate the matter.  Early surveying methods and recording practices were crude and non-uniform.    Spanish, British and even French, Dutch, and Portuguese claimants cloud the picture, in addition to the fact that United States acquired Florida from Spain and subsequently granted lands to the State of Florida. Even after the state of Florida was established, counties were created, abolished, and divided, or their boundaries changed and records migrated with them or even disappeared.  It appears certain that James A. Hutchinson was the first individual land holder of record of Hutchinson Island, and naturally the source for the subsequent naming.   However, reliable land holding records did not exist for almost a century and a half thereafter although there were some platting records registered.  On August 10, 1891 the platting of Avalon Park for the Indian River Inlet Mining Manufacturing & Improvement Co., with Daniel McConville being the company president, was filed in Brevard County.  That was for the area from the current Bryn Mawr Condominiums north to the Indian River County line.  Crude platting for residential development was included in the filing.  The development did not materialize but the Avalon name adorns the state park that occupies much of the platted territory.  Also, McConville heirs showed up in Ocean Resorts CO-OP tracing of titles to establish proper ownership of lands west of both the Bryn Mawr condominiums and Ocean Resorts CO-OP.

It seems that the first mapping of the North Beach portion of the Treasure Coast appeared in a US survey created in 1859.   It lacked today's precision and was not very accurate in distinguishing among land, water and swamp in coastal areas but it did contain the section designations in use today and showed the natural Indian River Inlet which by then was mostly shoaled into shallows and islands.  Even today, waterlines are changed by dredging and filling in addition to the effects of weather in general and hurricanes in particular.  This affects the meandering waterline of ocean front, river front and island edges, all of which can affect property acreage, boundaries and/or building setbacks.  Starting in the early 1900's deeds for North Beach properties generally carried a precise legal description within Section, Township, and Range identifications (created back at the time of a US survey mapping sometime before 1859) and used feet and fractions thereof to give measurements from key points, or lines between points such as a highway, meandering waterline, some established marker, etc.  A Parcel Number is assigned to the legal description for property appraisal and taxing purposes.  However, there may not be a continuous one for one relationship as property ownerships evolve from the original assignments.  Acreage, Zoning Code and Use Codes are attached to the Parcel identification.   On North Hutchinson Island many of the deeds carry precise north and south boundaries but define east and /or west boundaries as the meandering water line of the Atlantic Ocean, the Indian River, or one of its tributaries.  This means there can be considerable variability in the location of that boundary.  Surveying on the island is most difficult because of the imprecision of reference point and the ever changing water/land relationships. From time to time surveys move the meandering line.  When you add the imposition of setbacks from highways, waterfronts, property lines or designation of flood zones, zoning, etc., there can be a considerably difference between useable land and that contained in a  legal description.  

Modern digitized records that are readily retrievable and traceable generally only carry information that is complete starting around 1990.  Before that one must deal with old hand written index cards, "pigeon holes" for maps and eventually old and sometimes brittle microfiche in historical archives. Sometimes pigeon holes are empty or records are missing.  Then you run into breaks in the chain of title (e.g. death of owner without heirs of record), other than the owner of record being taxed, Parcel Numbers not related to correct legal property description, etc.  All of these conditions and more were encountered in the efforts that resulted in Ocean Resorts gaining valid title to the 65 acres west of Blue Hole Creek.  This history is not intended to get into the maze of such matters, but rather to relate some historical matters associated with North Beach development.