Waldo's Driftwood Resort
3150 Ocean Drive
Vero Beach, FL 32963
3150 Ocean Drive
The original beach house was expanded in 1937 by the additions of a wing on the north, and the south wing was added in 1939. The original portion of the building is now the central section.
The building is distinguished by board and batten exterior walls, wood shingled gable ends with decorative truss work, and rustic balcony railings. The courtyard is marked by tow stone walls, into which are embedded two rusty ancient cannons. Ceramic tiles decorate the courtyard floor. A breezeway is at the east end of the courtyard and is flanked by stairs leading to the second floor. The hallway at the north end features a small mural of a Spanish explorer landing in the New World. The breezeway walls feature graffiti from visitors, applied ornaments and portions of a wood mantel.
Though originally built as a family home, within a short time it was being operated by Mrs. Waldo Sexton as a small resort hotel, and because of there not being any restaurant in the vicinity of the Driftwood Inn, Mrs. Sexton began to cook breakfast for the guests in the family kitchen. This success led eventually to the founding of the adjacent restaurant. Waldo's Restaurant was constructed in 1947. The main entrance to the restaurant is recessed and located adjacent to the Breezeway building. The doors have multiple panels, inserts, and decorative family tiles. Ornate metal grills also decorate the entrance area. The balcony is railed with turned spindles, part of the original design. Three immense outrigger type wood timbers decorate the south end of the building. The restaurant interior still retains some original features, such as wood paneled walls and ceramic tile inserts in the floor.
Both the Breezeway and Waldo's Restaurant maintain their basic integrity, their unusual workmanship and materials, and their original design features. They are a unique example of vernacular architecture in which Waldo was able to express his exuberant personality. Waldo was a world traveler and a passionate collector. His accumulation included antiques, cannons, mosaics, paintings, bells, furniture, and relief sculpture. He incorporated into the buildings and grounds of the inn and restaurant hundreds of artifacts that he obtained from various trips. The visual display of these items was the exuberant Waldo's way of sharing his collection of the beautiful and unusual. Part of the timber used to build the Driftwood was salvaged by Waldo from a barn blown down in a hurricane. Waldo was especially fond of bells and amassed a collection of 250 various types and sizes. Collecting them from churches, trains, ships and schools, just to mention a few. They dominate the exterior of the buildings and have always been a special part of the Driftwood Inn tradition. They were used to welcome guests on their arrival and to ring out the farewell on their departure.
Waldo continued to expand the Driftwood complex after erecting the Inn and Restaurant. A small office was built in 1949. In that year he also moved in a row of fishing shacks that were used for guest rooms, and later, for small shops. They were converted back to guest rooms in 1986. In 1963 a 15 unit apartment building was added, just west of the original Breezeway building. Waldo's son, Ralph, erected the four story building to the south in 1965, providing more apartment units. Two more apartment buildings are now part of the Driftwood Resort, which was converted to interval ownership in 1979.
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