Monday, April 4, 2011

Florida History: A countess, a king, and the failed Floranada Club

By Jane Feehan
(Use search box at right to find more on "Florida History")

Boom times in early Fort Lauderdale attracted the interest of a few well-heeled Palm Beach winter visitors, including the Countess of Lauderdale. Married to the head of Scottish Clan Maitland, she discovered Fort Lauderdale while boating down the waterways in 1923.

Lauderdale, no relation to the city’s namesake, Major William Lauderdale, helped found the American British Improvement Society and then bought 8,000 acres south of Cypress Creek (some of it oceanfront property) to develop.

She involved Palm Beach notables Mrs. E.T. Stotesbury (owner of the first Mizner-designed home on the island), Mrs. Horace Dodge, John S. Pillsbury, and others in a venture to create another exclusive winter resort, Floranada (a combination of names Florida and Canada) Club . It was incorporated in 1925 and included the Oakland Park community.

A 1926 advertisement for the development reminds one of today’s sales hype:

     A golden beach in a sapphire sea – boating, tennis, golf, youth and life
     and laughter –that’s Biarritz. Let’s build a Biarritz nearer to home,” said
     some of the foremost financiers of America.
And so it began. Ads claimed the King of Greece was to make the Floranada Club his winter home. A golf course was planned, fancy boats were bought, and building started on the Floranada Inn, near today’s 45th Street and Federal Highway. In a year or two, the dream of these “foremost financiers” turned into a nightmare. In 1928, the principals of the collapsed American British Improvement Association were sued for $250,000 for falsely claiming to be well-financed when they weren’t.

When you pass 45th, or Floranada Street, remember the Biarritz (France) that wasn’t.  
 Gillis, Susan. Fort Lauderdale, The Venice of America. Charleston: Arcadia Publishing, 2004
Tags: Florida history, Fort Lauderdale history,early Fort Lauderdale developers, Florida in the early 1900s

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