A drive through Indiantown on Beeline Highway will confirm there’s a reason you’ve never been there — there’s not much to it.
There is one good reason to visit, though, and it’s the fried-green-tomato-and-bacon sandwiches at the Seminole Inn, a well-preserved 1926 hotel serving Southern style home cooking.
The Seminole Inn has one of those quirky stories that Florida is full of — this one includes the Duchess of Windsor, a guest on several occasions.
Indiantown is off the beaten path, about 30 miles northwest of West Palm Beach in Martin County. In 1926, however, Baltimore banker and railroad man S. Davies Warfield decided it would be a model city and the headquarters of his Seaboard Airline Railroad. His niece was Wallis Warfield, later the Duchess of Windsor, and the story goes she was the hostess at the hotel’s grand opening gala.
Like a lot of Florida dreams, this one didn’t come true — a few hurricanes and a depression intervened.
But the Seminole Inn, with its 20-inch-thick walls, is a survivor.
Today, it’s a popular spot for locals for lunch and Sunday brunch and it’s now the place to gather to take the free tour of the nearby Barley Barber Swamp.
The place is full of charm, including a broad porch with inviting rocking chairs, a lobby with a handsome fireplace and a dining room with hardwood floors, a 12-foot pecky cypress ceiling and large arched windows.
Lunches are served in the smaller dining room Monday through Saturday. Sunday is a big buffet brunch. Dinner is served Friday and Saturday nights and it’s a buffet with carving stations for $13.95.
The specialty of the house is fried green tomatoes, and you can order them as a side dish or in an outstanding sandwich ($7.95) with bacon on homemade bread for lunch. We had ours with sweet potato fries on the side, which came with a small container of honey and sour cream for dipping. The menu includes a variety of sandwiches, hamburgers and salads, and each day there are homemade desserts. (Peach cobbler and bread pudding on our visit.) Your sweet tea (or other beverage) is served in a Ball canning jar.
Sunday brunch is $14.95 and features many items, including a fried chicken and famous peach cobbler. You should make reservations.
The inn is owned by Iris Pollack Wall and managed by her daughter Jonnie Flewelling. The family has owned the inn on and off since buying it in dilapidated condition in 1976. The “on and off” part is an amusing tale of a family that bought the inn, sold it, bought it back, sold it again and then bought it for a third time when Jonnie begged her father to do so.
The inn has 22 rooms, each individually decorated in Old Florida style, with prices ranging from $75 to $120.
One draw to the Seminole Inn is the outdoors. Through the inn, you can arrange a wild hog hunt ($250/person), fish gigging ($150/person) or guided bass fishing on the Old Kissimmee River ($200/half day.)
While Indiantown may be a long way to drive for fried green tomatoes, the inn makes a good stop when combined with a visit to Barley Barber Swamp, Dupuis or Corbett.