A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THE HISTORY OF OUR SLICE OF PARADISE

Summerland Key Airport is a unique fly-in community in the Florida Keys that was designed by the Hudgins family to mix the best parts of aviation and marine life in the Florida Keys.  The result is unquestionably the most unique and accessible fly-in community in the world. 

Henry Hudgins, the father of the modern Summerland Key, developed Summerland from an uninhabited tropical wilderness to an upscale residential neighborhood. Henry was the chief structural engineer for the City of Miami when he met Waren Niles. Waren sold the Summerland property for $100,000 in 1947.

Hudgins decided that any homes on his island paradise would be elevated above the floodplain after two hurricanes hit the Lower Keys with tidal surges exceeding six feet. He drew up plans for streets and canals for the development and began dredging operations to form the canals.  Henry developed a new technique for cutting and dredging canals that was later adapted for digging all the man-made canal of the Keys.  With the nearest post office being on Ramrod Key since 1919, Henry sought to establish a post office on Summerland, When the postmaster of the Ramrod post office retired, Henry got his chance, and the post office was moved to the new Summerland Key community, and Henry Hudgins was named the first Summerland Key postmaster.

Hudgins' wife Mary learned to fly and kept a plane in Marathon. Around 1956, the Hudgins and Toppino families formed a partnership and developed a section of Summerland, named Summerland Cove, with a landing strip flanked by homes on both sides and canals behind the homes. As property began to sell in his development, Henry moved his family to a small wooden home on Center Street to be closer to the post office, the home still stands there today. In the late 1950s, Henry Hudgins purchased the property to build his dream home, Hermitage, on property facing Niles Channel once owned by the Garibaldi Niles homestead. Designed by Hudgins, the home sat on concrete pillars with a porch facing the channel. The home was designed to withstand 150 mph winds, and Hermitage still stands today.  Hudgins was only able to enjoy his creation for a few years, and he died in 1962. The lasting legacies of Henry Hudgins include his airstrip off West Shore Drive, Henry Street (named for him), Dobie Street (named for his second wife), and Hermitage, Hudgins dream home on Niles channel and the unique clear-water canal system on Summerland.

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