With his wife, a Coca Cola heiress, Anne Bates Leach, businessman Willaford Leach in 1936 purchased Mt. Elizabeth and the surrounding property in Martin County. After he built the Mediterranean Revival home, he named it Tuckahoe, a Native American term for Welcome. The estate was completed in 1939 and for the period had the latest architectural design.
Mt. Elizabeth according to an archaeologist, is a 4,000-year-old Indian mound created by the Ais Indians. Originally 60-feet high, the mount contained broken pottery, tools, fishbone, and shell ornament and other items used in the daily lives of the Ari Indians.
Sitting on the approximately 54 acres on the Indian River Lagoon riverfront with woodlands and rolling lawns, the Tuckahoe was the hub of social life in Martin County until 1950. It was the scene for countless parties attended by the local social set as well as World War II soldiers from Camp Murphy.
Moving to Palm Beach in 1950, the Leach family sold the mansion and surrounding property to the Catholic Church and the Sisters of St. Joseph based in St. Augustine. Adding two dormitory wings to the building, the Sisters of St. Joseph moved their novitiate and the St. Joseph College of Florida, a sisters’ formation college to the property.
Operating Florida’s only 2-year liberal arts college until 1972, the sisters sold the entire property to the Florida Institute of Technology (FIT). FIT was a 4-year college offering degrees in marine science. FIT closed in 1986 and the mansion and surrounding property stood vacant for more than a decade.
During the later years of the property being vacant, community leaders leading a referendum drive to encourage Martin County to purchase the property. In 1997 the county did purchase the property and renamed the site Indian RiverSide Park. The first phase of the renovations was opened to the public in 2001.
In 2009 the renovations were complete, and The Mansion at Tuckahoe was opened to the public. Throughout the year, the facility now hosts numerous events and has become the premier location for weddings in Martin County.