Wednesday, May 16, 2012

What Happens to Old Feed Stores in Delray

Sundy House Photo from Yelp
            Tucked away on Swinton Avenue is a little house that was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 1992.  Built in 1902, three years after John Sundy moved to Delray, the John and Elizabeth Shaw Sundy House, originally home to the John Shaw Sundy family, is still welcoming guests.
            My dad, who grew up in Delray Beach, remembers going past the Sundy house and feed store to deliver newspapers to the Sundy family among others. He rode his bike the few blocks from his house (now the Historic Hartman House Bed & Breakfast) on N.W. 7th Avenue over Federal Highway to the neighborhood around Swinton where he slung papers at front doorsteps.  
            Mr. Sundy became the first mayor of Delray in 1911 and served as mayor a total of seven terms. There were no calls for term limits under his leadership.
            The Sundy family’s feed store was a thriving business in the 1940s when my dad was sent over to buy chicken feed for the family chickens, Henny and Rooty.  Sadly, Henny and Rooty ended up on the family table despite their status as family pets. My dad and his siblings couldn’t eat knowing who was on the serving platter. My Granddad, being the gruff, no non-sense German father raised on a farm and working hard to make ends meet, didn’t appreciate their hesitation. He made sure they knew they either ate the chickens or there would be trouble. I’m sure we can all imagine how that story ended.
            There were no chickens or chicken feed in sight when I had the pleasure of dining at the Sundy house on a beautiful Sunday morning recently. My friend knew I love old houses and history and thought I would enjoy the experience. He was so right. The lush, beautiful landscaping around the driveway was just an indication of what was hidden behind the screen of tropical green.
            We walked into what must have been the front parlor, through another room with a huge tree rising through the roof and into a side room.  Seated at a little table overlooking a pond where koi swam peacefully just beneath the surface as orange darts of color, we had a leisurely breakfast.
            The brunch buffet was excellent and had everything one could possibly hope to eat and then some. We enjoyed every bite. The waffle bar was a surprise and the smell of baking waffles insisted that a freshly baked one had to rest briefly on our plates before being devoured.

Pool at Sundy House from Yelp
            After brunch, we strolled through the gardens past gazebos, tropical flowers and plants. I was amazed at the dark pool. The gunite forming the sides and bottom of the pool is very dark and the pool is inhabited by little fish. The dark pool lining and sweetly swimming fish combine to make the entire area look natural, as if the little pool had always been there, tucked away behind the building just waiting for one to discover it.
            There’s no feed store on the Sundy property these days, but it’s a wonderful place to eat and just right for a special occasion.
            Located at 106 South Swinton Avenue, Delray Beach, the Sundy House is open for Sunday brunch 10:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Lunch is served Tuesday through Saturday 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and dinner 6:00 to 10:00 p.m. It’s free to drive by and gawk out of your car window, but to really experience it, reservations are best. No fishing in those ponds or pool, though. Call 561-272-5678 or reserve on line.

          This article was published originally in Seabreeze Publications, Inc. as my monthly column "The Florida You Don't Know."

(c) Copyright 2012 Ruth Hartman Berge


  1. What a lovely place to eat and visit! I want those pools in my backyard, they look so peaceful. I can imagine myself sitting by them for hours just reading or relaxing. I absolutely adore old houses with charm and it looks like Sundy house has more than its fair share. If I'm ever in the area, I'm going to put this at the top of my list of places to visit!

    By the way, I'm so with your dad on not wanting to eat the family pet. Even if it was a chicken, if I know its name, I don't want to eat it. :)

    1. I know you'd love it! And I can't tell you how grateful I am that we had no chickens in our back yard when WE were growing up! Be sure to give me a holler when you get down this way. I'll join you at Sundy for Sunday brunch :)