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Cleveland the Snowbird

The president visited Indian River County in the 1890s and reveled in the climate and great fishing

There are two streets in the area named for Cleveland: this one in Sebastian, three miles south of the former Ercildoune Inn, and another in Stuart.

There are two streets in the area named for Cleveland: this one in Sebastian, three miles south of the former Ercildoune Inn, and another in Stuart.

Grover Cleveland was a man of simple tastes. Growing up as one of nine children and the son of a Presbyterian minister in Caldwell, New Jersey, he didn’t have much of a choice. Simple tastes were all the family could afford. 

However, even when Cleveland’s station in life improved, first as a self-taught lawyer, then a politician, the trappings of high society never lured him in. He eschewed the expensive homes and fashionable neighborhoods of his peers. And his idea of a good time — on those days when he wasn’t toiling long past midnight at his desk — was spending an evening at a local beer hall with his friends or tramping through the woods on a fishing and duck-hunting expedition. 

In later years, after stepping down from the presidency in 1897, Florida’s Treasure Coast proved to be the perfect wintertime getaway for Cleveland. It offered the down-to-earth lifestyle he preferred, in contrast to the luxurious hotels and surroundings that the rich and famous flocked to further to the south, and the fishing was great. There was one other attraction as well, as he wrote his daughter Marion in 1906, “The weather here is like summer and I am writing now at nearly eleven o’clock at night in my bedroom with no coat on and both of my windows open.”