Lighthouse Point Park preserves the sensitive environment around the northern side of Ponce Inlet. The water flows through the inlet between the Halifax River and the Atlantic Ocean. Rolling sand dunes and coastal hammock make up much of this 52-acre Volusia County park that is situated at the end of South Atlantic Avenue.
Years ago it was a wilderness tamed only by man’s attempts to construct dreams upon the sand. Rattlesnakes, gopher tortoises and shorebirds made themselves at home among the sea oats and mangrove trees. One person saw opportunity on this shifting spit of land in the 1920’s. Robert Pacetti wanted to build a hotel, golf course and housing subdivision on this prime spot when he inherited 70 acres of land there from his grandfather. In 1924, Pacetti and his Florida Coast Investment Company had the land platted, but the following year the land boom busted after the hotel had been constructed up to the first floor joist and work came to a sudden halt.
Fifty years later the foundation and some of the framework still stood on the site, home to many a snake or occasional vagrant. For a number of years, while the eroding inn lost tiles to theft, people began to construct a new vision for the land. The Ponce de Leon Inlet and Port Authority opened discussions with the county and state to develop the property into a public park.
By 1986, construction was underway for a new county park named Lighthouse Point Park. The construction of the 100-car parking area demolished most of the remaining ruins of the long-standing hotel foundation. Today there is a small section fenced off of the parking area with a plaque telling the story of the inn. Dedicating the area to a county park provided for recreational opportunities for people and protected the site from any form of future development.
A small dog-friendly beach along the inlet waterway is always occupied by happy dogs and their owners. The pavilions in the park are available for parties and picnics and can be reserved in advance. An observation tower provides a view of the beach and wetlands. A walkway was constructed along the rocky jetty for people to fish or just stroll along and enjoy the view. The beach access is popular with surfers. Adjacent to the park, reached by road or nature trails, are the Marine Science Center and Ponce Inlet Lighthouse.
For more information about Lighthouse Point Park visit the Volusia County website and to read more about the Inlet Terrace Subdivision’s hotel in the mid-1970’s visit the Daytona Beach Morning Journal website.