It was about 1915 in Florida. Land speculation was popular across the state. Winter Haven was no exception.
One ambitious project named Poinsettia Park was planned for the shores of Lake Fannie — 600 acres and three miles of shoreline as proclaimed by a rare promotional brochure.
Among the principles in the project were: Lycurgus Burns, solicited professor; Fred H. Rankin, Assistant Dean at the College of Agriculture of Illinois; Harvey J. Sconce, president of the Illinois Corn Growers Association, Dean N. And Eugene D. Funk of the Funk Brothers Seed Company of Bloomington, Illinois; and J. G. Melluish of Bloomington, one of the foremost engineers of swamp land reclamation.
The group, motivated by the land potential, was considering a 20,000 acre investment.
The brochure states, “As they traveled about Winter Haven, Dundee, Lake Wales and the Garfield Tract they fell in love with the delightful climate, pretty woods and lakes and decided to buy a tract where they might build winter homes amongst the palms and flowers.”
After evaluating the area they selected and created Poinsettia Park for its great beauty, location and possibilities for development.
The planners selected seven residential lots for their homes and “are inviting many of their friends to join in making the park a most enjoyable social center, exclusive to the extent of soliciting and selling to none but good people.”
Forty-five acres of hammock and piney woods were to be set aside for a public park including one mile of Lake Fanny lakefront. The brochure touts the owners making avenues, roads and paths through the park and planting tropical trees, shrubs, plants and groves “retaining every pretty wild feature.”
There would be 100 one-acre residential lots. The promotion noted there were about 300 acres of “orange land” then covered by piney woods and that 40 acres would be cleared to plant citrus.
The pamphlet continues, “An attractive feature both for business and pleasure will be a boat line across Lake Fanny to the railroad station (Lucerne Park) for the carrying of passengers, mail, and freight. To facilitate boat traffic there will be piers and a boat pavilion.”
The Poinsettia Park project was associated with an organization called Peace Valley Farms Company whose officers included those mentioned previously as well as Winter Haven pioneer family members Florence Inman and Mary Jewett.
Very little of what organizers hoped for Poinsettia Park ever materialized.
There is some evidence of a pier across Lake Fanny and citrus acreage was prevalent there until the early 2000s. The Inman family had grove acreage in the area.
It seems that though the group had great enthusiasm, their enthusiasm was not shared with their target markets and the project eventually ran out of money.
The Fred Rankin family remained on property that was in the original Poinsettia Park concept. Fred Rankin died in 1958 at the age of 93.
We are indebted to Judy Howell who lives in the Poinsettia Park area on Lake Fanny for sharing an original promotional brochure pictured with this segment.