About Hugh Willoughby

While the majority of residents of Martin County recognize Willoughby as the street name, the vast minority will not know very much about the individual for whom it is named.

Hugh DeLaussett Willoughby was an integral part of the development of Stuart, in particular Sewall’s Point, along with Captain Henry Sewall back in the early 1900’s.

Like so many still today, Hugh Willoughby sought refuge in the year long summer sun from the northern State’s cold climate. Stemming from a wealthy family, Willoughby set up his winter residence in Sewall’s Point where his prestigious home was built, known as the ‘Mandalay’. Willoughby, a one time president of the Sewall’s Point Land Co., was also involved in the development and construction of the Sunrise Inn and the Twin Rivers Country Club here in Stuart.

An inventor, sportsman, designer and real estate developer, Willoughby was always found in the midst of creative projects; bicycles, automobiles, motor boats, hot air balloons and aeronautics were consistently on his agenda for improvements in design. Said to have been inspired by the soaring birds found in Florida, he was also part of the support team for Orville Wright’s flight at Fort Myer, VA in 1908 and constructed the War-Hawk – a bi-plane considered to be the largest amateur built aircraft in the early 1900’s.

Willoughby’s most innovative inventions, the hydro-aeroplane (a seaplane) dubbed the ‘Pelican’ Hydro-Aeroplane, along with an original pilot’s license owned by Willoughby and signed by Orville Wright, can be seen on display at the Elliot Museum on Hutchinson Island in Stuart, FL.

Born in 1856, Willoughby died at a ripe age of 83 in 1939 and not only witnessed many of the world’s most spectacular inventions of that time period, but often was an important part of them.