On the west side of the main house at our romantic Florida getaway is a lovely little room that we call “Dianne’s Room”. Dianne Blackwood was the only daughter of Walter and Ella Belle Brown. She was born April 13, 1913 in Liverpool, England and grew up in the house at Port d’Hiver.
In an essay published in Frank Thomas’ book Melbourne Beach: The First 100 Years by 19 Townspeople, Dianne Blackwood (maiden name, Brown) wrote that her father, Walter Brown, first became acquainted with Melbourne Beach around the turn of the century when he worked as an instructor for the Kentucky Military Institute which had a winter campus in Eau Gallie, a small town just a few miles north of Melbourne Beach around 1906.
In 1912 Walter and Elle Belle Brown moved to England for a few years while Walter worked for Morgan Guaranty Trust in commodities, specifically flour. In the 1920s, Walter, Ella Belle and Dianne came back to Melbourne Beach and rented a small upstairs apartment from Mrs. Trowbridge, the town’s postmistress, and a short time later purchased the cypress house across the street from the casino (now Sand on the Beach Restaurant) and Ella Belle named the house Port d’Hiver.
Dianne’s Room in the Main House
Dianne attended old Melbourne High School, married Harry Blackwood and, as a young girl, taught Sunday school at the historic Melbourne Beach Community Chapel right here on Ocean Avenue. To this day there is a room in the Sunday School building with a plaque over the door that bears her name. Here is a picture Dianne’s daughter Mimsy shared with us of her mom Dianne when she was 15 years old with her father Walter, 1928.
Dianne with her father in 1928