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Tiny, interesting Briny Breezes turns 50

Pound for pound, there’s no town more interesting than Briny Breezes, which was incorporated as a municipality 50 years ago this week, on June 19, 1963.

The little mobile home park east of Boynton Beach is one of Palm Beach County’s smallest municipalities, but it’s been in the news just a few times.

Part of it is that the place is a throwback to the laid-back “tin can tourists” world of the 1950s and 1960s

Part of it is the town’s unusual 3-in-one configuration; it’s a mobile home park, it’s owned by a corporation of which its residents are stockholders, and it’s a city with, officially, one resident: Briny Breezes, Inc.

And for half a century, the biggest part may way well be that, amid towering condos and sprawling mansions, this shred of the charm of Old Florida has been a lone holdout, clinging stubbornly to this narrow stretch of sand off State Road A1A.

Except for one time.

In January 2007, residents voted to accept a $510 million offer to sell the town’s land, which stretches from the ocean to the Intracoastal Waterway. The deal would have made many of the town’s 488 property owners millionaires — and would have allowed Boca Raton-based Ocean Land Investments to replace the mobile homes with a sprawling mega-resort.

The ensuing ruckus over the sale and the scope of the project pitted neighbor against neighbor and threatened lasting damage to the sense of community that set the place apart. Eventually, Ocean Land withdrew the offer.

Here’s a quick chronology of “Briny:”

1919: Ward B. Miller, a retired Michigan lumber business owner, buys 43 acres in an area called Palm Beach Shore Acres and builds a home on the ocean. Two years later, Miller begins operating Shore Acres Dairy with 500 cows. He invites campers to stay at his tract.

1925: Miller changes the name to Briny Breezes, subdivides the land into lots and sells it for nearly $2 million. After the real estate crash, the Miller family reclaims the tract. Miller welcomes people to camp and fish for free if they buy his strawberries and milk.

1958: Brinyites establish a resident-owned corporation and buy the park from the Miller family for $1.5 million. Five years later, Briny Breezes is incorporated as a municipality.

Oct. 14, 1964: A tornado spawned by Hurricane Isbell destroys about two dozen mobile homes.

1991: Ocean Club House is built for $485,000.

Feb. 20, 1997: Hugh David, the town’s only mayor since its founding, dies at 75.

This photo of Frank Seeley’s 14-foot Troutwood travel trailer was taken in Briny Breezes in 1944. (Photo by Lynn Thomas)

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Posted in Eliot Kleinberg June 20, 2013 at 12:39 pm.

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This week in history: Loxahatchee Groves becomes Palm Beach County’s 38th municipality

On Oct. 10, 2006 voters in the rural community of Loxahatchee Groves approved incorporation by a vote of 458 to 350. Founded in 1917, Loxahatchee Groves is the oldest of the western communities and gets its name from the Seminole words for turtle river — Lowchow and hatchee — and the acres of citrus groves that occupied the land prior to settlement.

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Posted in Flashback blog October 8, 2012 at 6:00 am.

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This week in history: Clewiston incorporated

On Oct. 1, 1931 the city of Clewiston was incorporated, but not for the first time. Clewiston had been incorporated in 1923, and then re-chartered in 1925. The city was named for early settler Alonzo Clewis, a Tampa banker who purchased a large tract of land southwest of Lake Okeechobee in the area then known as Sand Point.

In 1920 Clewis and Clewiston developers John and Marion O’Brien commissioned nationally known planner John Nolen to create a plan for the city.

1926 ad from the Miami News:

1938 Miami News feature on “The Glades District”:

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Posted in Flashback blog October 1, 2012 at 6:00 am.

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The first minutes of the brand-new Palm Beach County Commission

The Palm Beach County Clerk & Comptroller is (among other things) the official keeper of the minutes of county commission meetings. On a recent tour of the office we took some photos of the minutes book from the very first Palm Beach County Commission meeting on July 5, 1909. Click on the images below to view larger versions (and click again to zoom in enough to read them).

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Posted in Flashback blog August 7, 2012 at 9:24 am.

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This week in history: Hypoluxo incorporated

Twenty-two families lived in the town of Hypoluxo when it was incorporated on July 4, 1955. The name comes from the Seminole term for “water all around, no get out,” from the days when Lake Worth was a freshwater lake with no permanent inlet to the ocean.

The caption on this photograph in the Nov. 13, 1964 Palm Beach Post: “Hypoluxo’s slogan, ‘The Town with No Taxes,’ may have to be altered if the town installs a sewage system. Town officials have been conferring with Lantana authorities about a tie-in with that community’s sewage system. But, a always, there is the matter of financing. Maybe an assessment would also provide footwear for the poor shoeless mailman.”

This Jan. 14, 1925 ad in The Palm Beach Post touts the appeal of Hypoluxo Island. The island area is not part of the town.

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Posted in Flashback blog July 2, 2012 at 6:00 am.

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