Lake Boynton Estates – Neighborhood Tales

“Some day I shall buy myself a little home…the house of my dreams. In Boynton it shall be…not very far beyond the big gates of Lake Boynton Estates…up on the cool, wind swept ridge from where I can view the sunrise over the Ocean, and see it set in a riot of red beyond the Lake to the west.” So starts a 1925 ad from the Palm Beach Post for the Lake Boynton Estates subdivision. As I reported in an earlier blog post (http://www.palmbeachpast.org/?p=32) Boynton Beach had several lakes that stretched from Lake Osborne in Lake Worth to Lake Ida in Delray Beach.

On the largest of those lakes, the developer K.D. Purdy had purchased the land to the east of Lake Boynton and platted out 50 foot lots complete with paved streets and water. The subdivision was directly accessible from the Dixie Highway and downtown Boynton through Ocean Avenue. He took out several large ads in the Palm Beach Post to sell lots in his subdivision. The lots were sold for $1,750, quite a sum of money in its day. Many lots sold in the land boom of the 1920s, which all came to a halt with the subsequent land bust and Great Depression of the 1930s. In the Depression, I am guessing that the lots could have been bought for the owed taxes, probably less than $10. My grandfather bought hundreds of lots like these in the Wilton Manors and Progresso subdivisions in Fort Lauderdale for $2-$3 dollars apiece. Although we think the local land and housing market has crashed, it cannot ever match the depth of the crash that occurred in the 1930s.

Another factor that did not help Lake Boynton Estates was the Seaboard Air Line Railroad (now known as the CSX tracks). Flagler’s Florida East Coast railroad had no competition, so another railroad line was bound to make its way south. In 1926 it was announced that the Seaboard Air line would be extended down to Miami. The route of the tracks was just a few yards from the entrance to Lake Boynton Estates. I don’t know if Purdy knew that the railroad would come that close to his development, but the residents who were there certainly would not have been happy about the train, nor would that help sales of the lots once the railroad had announced.

I did not find any sales ads for the development beyond 1925. I think development pretty much came to a halt until the late 1950s, based on a search of Palm Beach County property records. Additional homes were built through the 1960s. The 1970s construction of I-95 isolated the neighborhood from downtown Boynton, cutting off the Ocean Avenue artery. Then the 1960s saw the filling-in of Lake Boynton for the construction of the Leisureville development. Another building spurt in the 1990s filled in most of the lots, although a few empty ones remain. Sadly, only three original houses in the development remain, two mission-style houses and one Mediterranean Revival style stucco house.

Boynton House

Mission-style house built in 1926

Boynton House

Mission-style house built in 1925

Boynton House

Mediterranean Revival Style House built in 1925

One of the elements featured in the original ads were the gates leading into the development, which were located on the south, east and north entrances to the development.

Boynton gates

The Gates at Lake Boynton Estates

Could these gates have somehow survived? Janet DeVries, the archivist and librarian at the Boynton Beach City Library, clued me in on where the sole remaining gate was located. At the east end of the development by the Seaboard Coastline tracks, one side of the gates remain, in somewhat of a sad state, a bit overgrown and with graffiti on one side.

Boynton Gate - 2010

The Lake Boynton Gate as it appears in 2010

The gate is almost exactly as it appeared in the ad, with part of the top ornament now missing. I doubt many of the residents even know why the gate is there and how old it is, some 85 years. If you have any additional information about Lake Boynton Estates, please leave a comment below.