|City/Town: • Merritt Island|
|Location Class: • Residential|
|Built: • 1961 | Abandoned: • 2002|
|Status: • Demolished|
|Photojournalist: • David Bulit|
Located on Merritt Island, the Dragon Point Mansion was built in 1961. The estate featured three fireplaces, wraparound cedar decks, teak parquet floors and paneling, mahogany stairs, stained glass, a 20-foot copper bar, a pool and five sets of French doors. The southern tip of the island was known as Dragon Point, where the Indian River Lagoon splits to form the Banana River Lagoon is where Annie the Dragon stood, a dragon-shaped green concrete structure.
In 1971, owners Aynn and Jeff Christal hired Miami artist and self-proclaimed warlock Louis VanDercar to build a dragon sculpture. The idea for the sculpture was inspired by the American Indian legend which held that seeing a dragon rising from the mist where the Banana and Indian Rivers met was a sign of good fortune. It was constructed using 20 tons of concrete and steel and stood 35 feet high and 65 feet long. The sculpture was named after owner Aynn or Annie. In 1974, red lights were added to its eye holes and a propane-based flamethrower was installed in her mouth.
When the property was bought by Warren McFadden in 1981, he hired VanDercar to add a curling tail, an extended neck, a pair of back legs, two cavepeople named Fred and Wilma, and four dragon hatchlings named Joy, Sunshine, Charity, and Freedom. A children’s book about the dragon and her hatchlings, River Dragon: A Real Florida Fairy Tale, was published in 2003.
In August 2002, the sculpture was badly damaged, and partially collapsed into the water during a storm. According to McFadden, vandalism was a contributing factor to is collapse claiming due to its position, it was susceptible to people wielding sledgehammers and spray cans.
In 2004, Bob Hereford who acquired the property a year prior had announced plans to rebuild Annie after receiving numerous emails and phone calls from people who wanted to see the sculpture standing again. Despite hoping to have it up by March 2005, the plans never materialized. In 2008, a developer planned a luxury hotel and spa on the Dragon Point site with a reconstructed dragon statue as its centerpiece. That plan also fell through.
In January 2015, Don Facciobene, local builder and developer, bought the property. He planned to demolish the mansion and build a new multi-million dollar mansion in its place. He also announced that a new dragon named “Rojak” will be built where Annie once stood. According to the story of Dragon Point, Rojak is Annie’s fifth hatchling who was kept hidden underwater. He will stand at 30 feet high and 60 feet long and will have lights in his eyes and fire coming from his mouth. He will also have two heads, one to protect the Indian River and one to protect the Banana River. An Ais Indian statue will also be built facing Rojak and holding a torch overhead, doubling as a marine navigation light.
The demolition of the mansion began in March 2017. Afterward, workers will spend the following four or five months of repairing foundation and seawall damages. Construction of the new mansion and Rojak is set to be completed in two years.