Our Story

Henry Hudgins, the father of the modern Summerland Key, developed Summerland from an uninhabited tropical wilderness to an upscale residential neighborhood. Hudgins 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 homes be built homes elevated above the floodplain after two hurricanes hit the Lower Keys as the tidal surges rose six feet. He drew up plans for streets and canals for the development and began dredging operations to form the canals.

Hudgins developed a new technique that was later adapted for digging all the human-made canal of the Keys. The nearest post office was on Ramrod Key and had been there since 1919. After years of serious effort to get a post office on Summerland, Hudgins got his chance. After the postmaster of the Ramrod post office retired, it was moved to Summerland, and Hudgins was named Summerland Key 2 postmaster.

Hudgins' wife Mary learned to fly and kept a plane in Marathon. Around 1956, Hudgins and Toppino 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, Hudgins 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, 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, he died in 1962. Lasting legacies to 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.