Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Florida History: Russian ridicule, Lauderhill and Jackie Gleason

By Jane Feehan

All-State Properties was selected to construct an American house for the U.S. Exhibition in Moscow in 1959. Herbert Sadkin, the company’s president, tapped architect Stanley H. Klein to design a home representative of the American middle class. The $13,000 “Splitnik” contained one and a half bathrooms, three bedrooms, two patios and an L-shaped living room. The Russian state news agency, Tass, ridiculed the house, saying it was as typical of the American worker’s house as the Taj Mahal was typical of the Bombay textile worker’s house.

That didn’t stop Sadkin from building the same model on Long Island. There, he discovered the house wasn’t luxurious enough for the American worker. He continued to upgrade. In July, 1959 Sadkin opened his first Florida development on 1,300 acres he purchased for about $1 million off the Sunshine Parkway (now Florida's Turnpike).  Located in Broward County, the new city was chartered as Lauderhill. Sadkin went on to build about 1,000 more homes in the area that also became known for its Inverrary Country Club and golf course.

Cut forward to 1972. Actor-comedian Jackie Gleason (1916-1987), a resident of the country club in Lauderhill, kicked off the first Inverrary Classic bearing his name. Those were the glory days of golf legends Tom Weiskopf, Lee Trevino, Jack Nicklaus, and Johnny Miller; they each played the Jackie Gleason Inverrary Classic. Gleason’s involvement ended in 1980 when CBS-TV cut the Inverrary Classic from the event list for the 1982 broadcast season. Tournament officials sought a big-money corporate sponsor and planned to ease Gleason aside.

“I’m not going to have my name associated with some car company,” said Gleason who died at his Inverrary home a few years later. “The only reason I wanted to be involved in the first place was to raise money for charity.” Gleason’s name attracted celebs to play in the pro-am. He and President Gerald Ford were golfing friends. He had planned to invite President-elect Ronald Reagan to play in 1981 but decided against it given the circumstances.

Today we know the golf tournament as the Honda Classic, now played at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens. The Inverrary Country Club in Lauderhill still draws golfing enthusiasts. And Sadkin, a Fort Lauderdale resident, went on to build Bonaventure and other South Florida projects before he died in 1972. Copyright © 2012. All rights reserved. Jane Feehan.

For Broward, Florida or Fort Lauderdale history, use search box top right.

Miami News, July 14, 1959
Palm Beach Post, Nov. 1980
New York Times, Feb. 18, 1989

Tags: Broward County history, history of Lauderhill, history of Inverrary Country Club, Inverrary Classic, Jackie Gleason, Honda Classic, U.S. Exhibition in Moscow, Broward County in the 1950s


Melinda Pollard said...

I'm search the web like a crazy woman trying to find out what the name "Inverrary" means. There's a history behind the name "Lauderhill" but no one seems to know where the name "Inverrary" came from. DOES ANYONE KNOW? I'm the external marketer for Garden Plaza at Inverrary, and independent and assisted living campus, and thought it would be neat to know the history of Inverrary when I'm out in the community...but I'm totally stumped on the name of Inverrary.

Jane Feehan said...

Melinda: Thank you for your comment. As a long-time observer of SOFLA developers, I can say there is very seldom a reasoned history behind a name. HOWEVER, I looked up places in Scotland, the country where golf was invented, and there is a tourist area called Inveraray, where there is a golf course and castle. Perhaps, Inverrary was a mis-spelling of or derivation of that. As for Lauderhill the same goes but Lauderdale was the the Tennessee major who fought in the Seminole Wars in and near present day Fort Lauderdale. Lauderhill was probably a way to distinguish it from the larger city just as Palm Beach GARDENS and Palm Beach LAKES captitalize on the name Palm Beach but are separate towns. I hope this helps ... sometimes developers sit around over drinks and come up with these names.


I still play golf there and see Jackie's golf cart on display .


Pics of Jackie golfing http://www.golf.com/photos/jackie-gleason-last-golfs-great-characters#1

Anonymous said...

As I worked for the Inverrary Management Co., whose responsibility was to manage the day to day operations for The Hills, The Lakes & The Falls, I was there as the community was de elpped & for all the years that Jackie hosted The Classic. The deveopment company was the Haft-Gaines Company, for But Haft & Jack Gaines. I believe Herb Sad kin was the G.C.