The Eau Gallie Arts District (known affectionately by locals as EGAD!) is the official arts district of Melbourne, Florida and is a Florida Main Street Community. The Eau Gallie Arts District gets its name from the city that was once located in the area. Settlers began coming to this area in 1859 when the pioneering Houston family established a farm harvesting sugar cane, rice and vegetables. Until the 1960′s there were actually two distinct cities situated on the western end of the two causeways crossing the Indian River Lagoon. The southern city was Melbourne, and the northern city was Eau Gallie. Eau Gallie is French for “rocky water.” In 1969, the two cities merged, taking Melbourne as the name for the unified municipality. However, the original downtown area of Eau Gallie has continued to be referred to by the old city name.
The district includes the Foosaner Art Museum and Museum School (now owned by Florida Institute of Technology), administrative offices of the Brevard Symphony Orchestra, Historic Rossetter House Museum and Gardens, Eau Gallie Public Library, Eau Gallie Civic Center, two public parks, a band shell and newly rebuilt fishing pier. EGAD is a thriving Central Florida community of unique merchants and local artisans containing art studios, galleries, eclectic furniture stores, a phenomenal cake shop (who made my delicious wedding cake), an art supply store (always willing to accommodate the needs of local design students), a beautiful Queen Anne style bed and breakfast as well as shops boutiques, churches, restaurants and professional offices and services.
EGAD is a beautiful blend of historical Florida vernacular homes, mid-century commercial buildings and modern amenities. The City of Melbourne has also re-zoned a residential area within EGAD known as the “Art Overlay Zone” to allow artists to establish studios within their homes, thus providing a special enclave for working artists. As property values rise (which is inherently a good thing) a common outcome of revitalized downtown districts is the ousting of the local artisans that made the area cool in the first place and contributed to the unique visual character. This thriving community is a great example of the Florida Main Street Program done right.