Bountiful flowers were my first impression of the Seminole Inn. The colorful blooms were on the ground and in baskets around the Art Deco building. I entered the elegant lobby, really more like a drawing room in a grand Southern home, and stepped into another era. Greg Flewelling, husband of the general manager, Ms. Jonnie Flewelling, greeted me with a handshake and warm smile.
Soon I would learn that manners and graceful traditions are part of a family aesthetic that includes respect for people and ranching, for the land and all its inhabitants, and for the environment. Evidence was everywhere: Many of the vegetables served at the Inn are grown in their garden without pesticides. The owners arrange excursions to their farm, High Horse Ranch, for guests to experience Florida as it can be, cultivated with intelligent farming practices that don't deplete the land. They maintain a herd of Florida Cattle, descended from the animals brought to America by the Spanish in the 15th Century.
Located just thirty miles northwest of Palm Beach, the Seminole Inn is in the heart of Florida's cattle and citrus country. It was built in the 1920s by a land developer named S. Davies Warfield. His niece, Wallis Warfield Simpson, attended its grand opening before becoming the Duchess of Windsor a decade later. In 1999, the Inn won both the Sustainability Award and the Bed & Breakfast of the Year and in 2006, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
The owner, Mrs. Iris Wall, was named Florida's Woman of the Year in Agriculture in 2006. Ms. Wall, a native of the Indiantown area, wrote a best-selling book called, "Cracker Tales", and Greg was kind enough to give me a copy. Ms. Wall leads a family that is extensively involved in the Indiantown community. Learn about the family and the area's history in a dynamic video. (Scroll to the bottom of that web page for the link to the video.)
I spent the day with Greg learning about Florida ranching and the unique attributes of this area. It's an ideal place to hike, fish, ride a horse or a swamp buggy. After a short hike, I sat at the ranch, watching the cows graze and a hawk circle above the lake.
The Seminole Inn staff can arrange an array of activities like swamp buggy tours, bass fishing and hiking. Nearby, the 46,000 acre DuPuis Reserve State Forest has a 15-mile walk that meanders through pine flatwoods, ponds, and cypress domes, wet prairies, and cabbage palm hammocks. Bald eagles are known to nest here, and they hunt for food along with herons, wood storks, egrets, and white ibis.
After touring the spotless and gleaming kitchen, Greg and I shared a delicious supper of beef shish kebobs, crunchy green beans with delicious sun-dried tomatoes, and zucchini squash with cheese. Devoted chef Lesber Cuadra loves to grow vegetables in the garden and proudly told me that the Inn's Sunday country brunch is quite popular. (My savory meal left me without a doubt about it.)
Southern charm and gracious details abound here. My photos (taken with a nifty Kodak Zx1) may paint the right portrait.
A personal visit will likely leave you with lasting memories and a great deal of respect for sound environmental practices.