Granada Bridge across the Halifax River at Ormond Beach
Granada Bridge across the Halifax River at Ormond Beach

Before the Spanish arrived, the area of Ormond Beach was the domain of the Timucuan Indians. Nocoroco, the name of their local settlement, was in the vicinity of what is now Tomoka State Park. They had been in the area for hundreds (if not thousands) of years but the arrival of the Spanish was disastrous for them: by 1800 the tribe was nearly wiped out by European diseases and by warfare.

The city is named for a British sea captain named James Ormond. He was commissioned by the King of Spain to bring settlers to the region. However, Florida kept changing hands and once the area was under the control of the United States, the Seminoles kept any settlement efforts from succeeding until after 1842. And nothing happened in the Ormond Beach area until "New Britain" was founded in 1875 by folks from New Britain, Connecticut. When they moved to incorporate the town, they renamed it Ormond.

The St. Johns & Halifax Railroad arrived in 1886, then the first bridge was built across the Halifax River to connect the town with the barrier island to the east. In 1902, the hard-packed sand on that barrier island started to attract the attention of various automobile manufacturers, inventors and experimenters... and that's when the nickname "The Birthplace of Speed" began to appear: for many years that stretch of sand was used to set the world land speed records.

Henry Flagler bought the St. Johns & Halifax Railroad and turned it into the Florida East Coast Railway. In Ormond he bought the Ormond Hotel and turned it into a luxurious retreat catering to wealthy Northerners who were coming to Florida for the winter. In 1914, Flagler's old business partner, John D. Rockefeller, came for the winter. Four years later, Rockefeller bought The Casements, an estate in town, and turned that into his winter home until his death in 1937. His heirs sold the estate in 1939, then the city bought it in 1973. Now it is a registered historical structure and serves as the Ormond Beach Cultural Center. In 2009 the city invested $1.1 million into refurbing the place.

The city was renamed Ormond Beach in 1949.

The population of Ormond Beach is up about 5% since 2000.