After buying our tickets in the gift shop, we walk through the pergola and could see the Hall of Giants, built in 1941 to house the world’s largest table. Waldo Sexton saw the table at the 1903 St Louis Louisiana Purchase Exposition and later tracked it down to a basement in New York City. He had it sent to Florida and built the Hall of Giants around it in his usual style, verbally communicating how he wanted it built with no formal plan; however, the design is a copy of a Polynesian ceremonial palace.
The table, 30 inches long, 5 inches wide, and 6 inches thick, will seat 100 people at one time. Next to the hall is the Spanish Kitchen, a tremendous outdoor grill that will cook 100 steaks at one time. Local events are held there, and some ladies were preparing a huge, enchanting center piece with driftwood and live flowers.
Map in hand, we followed the paths through the gardens. Streams and man-made pools with wonderful purple water lilies were here and there along the paths of the jungle. Exotic subtropical plants were identified with small plaques. A lot of damage had been inflicted on the tall palm trees by the violent September 2004 hurricanes that had hit Vero Beach with a fury.
Rogers’ BIG BUGS were located in remote areas along the trails. They were 10 to 20 feet long and weighed up to 1,200 pounds apiece. Included in the sculptures, made from black locust and bent willows, were a giant dragon fly, a grasshopper, a praying mantis, and three giant ants.
There is an excellent new café on the premises and a library. The new buildings were designed in the Florida Cracker style.
by Mary Dickinson
October 30, 2005
From journal Exploring Vero Beach