At 164.8 acres, this site is one of the largest natural areas managed by Broward County Parks and Recreation. As recently as a century ago, this elevated oak hammock was part of a series of islands surrounded by Everglades marshes. Long Key encompasses some of the most significant archaeological, historical, and ecological resources in the county, as the area was inhabited by the ancient Tequestas and the more modern Seminoles. Traces of human settlement here go back 3,000 years.
"Sam Jones’s possessions consist of a group of several islands, differing in size and separated by narrow slices. Upon the largest of these [Long Key], is about one hundred and fifty yards in width and half a mile in length, are three villages and dancing-grounds...." From a military engineer's report in 1841.
Sam Jones was the Americanized name for the powerful Seminole leader, Abiaka. Although a medicine man, he is remembered more as a warrior and military planner. Abiaka is given credit for masterminding Seminole victories in many battles.
In the 1900's, Long Key became a citrus grove, a dairy farm, then Pioneer City...an Old West theme park with its own railroad...and finally, the highly-popular Kapok Tree restaurant, which was known for its Imperial Roman motif amidst spectacular landscaping. In 1990, following the closing and demolition of the Kapok Tree, Broward County acquired the land and began returning much of it to its natural state by restoring wetlands and transplanting non-native trees to other parks.
Once upon a simpler time, there was a magical place that stood alone deep in Davie's wild western woods. Huge Grecian columns marked its entrance. Peacocks roamed the gardens surrounding a cluster of extravagant themed rooms, a tropical veranda just down the hall from a Middle Eastern bazaar. The Kapok Tree, during its glory days four decades ago, created lasting memories for a generation of South Florida residents.
The Long Key Nature Center was completed in 2008 and today boasts a Visitor's Center which includes a scale model of the site, a 2,760 square foot rental facility called Oak Hammock Hall, which is great for meetings, weddings, receptions, and other special events, an Exhibit Hall highlighting the history of the Tequesta and Seminole Native Americans on Long Key and the Everglades Theater which shows a 12 minute video, Long Key: An Island in the Everglades.
Long Key is located at 3501 SW 130th Avenue in Davie, Florida 33330, in other words, "a tad north of Griffin Road and a bit west of Flamingo Road in the heart of west Davie".
It is a great place to get lost in the natural beauty of South Florida's original landscape.
To reach the Nature Center, please call (954) 357-8797