Visiting The Oldest Sites In Boca Raton | Baton Raton History
Compared to most of the world, the United States of America has a very young history. Almost every major event has been chronicled since the initial foundation of the American Colonies. Without the nebulous origins of ancient civilizations, our foundational tales are not shrouded in myth & legend, do not contain religious underpinnings, and can be found in any major public library. Florida, namely South Florida, is an even younger vestige of this otherwise juvenile country. With nary a century of real development under our belts, the historic sites of Boca Raton are a rare glimpse into a time not too long ago. It was a time when our beautiful Tuscan architecture and signature luxury lifestyle were merely ideas coalesced around the vision of community forbear Addison Mizner. Without further ado, learn more of our Boca Raton history as we review 5 of the oldest sites in Boca Raton!
Spanish Village sits in an area just a few blocks north of City Hall on Boca Raton Boulevard. Originally built in the 1920s by the Mizner Development Corporation, the company was named for its founder, Addison Mizner once Boca Raton became more of a city than a dream, these modest homes were among the earliest residences in the area. Today, eleven still stand, and despite efforts from the residents, only one is currently protected by historic designation.
The Army Air Corps "T" Buildings
The Army Air Corps was the antecedent to today's U.S. Air Force. During the events of WWII, air and sea combat was elevated to the next level, and the world would never look back. Following the invention of the radar, one of the most important tools used to win the war, the United States opened a secret radar training facility in Boca Raton. It would serve as the only of its kind during the war. More than 800 structures were built near today's FAU campus, with only 20 such buildings surviving. The (then) small town of Boca Raton hosted over 50,000 troops until 1947. Within 20 years of its incorporation, Boca Raton would host some of the most important developments in the history of the war, with the radar and its deployment turning the course against the German Luftwaffe.
Old Betsy was the affectionate nickname given to the very first fire engine employed by the City of Boca Raton. Boca Raton Fire Engine Number 1, later to be named what it is known as today, was commissioned in 1926, the year of the city's official incorporation. Old Betsy was housed in Old City Hall, which now serves as the Boca Raton Historical Society and Museum. Enter the large, northernmost room that today serves as the Pioneer Era museum display, and stand on the hallowed ground that housed the first of Boca's first responders. Today, she is affectionately held at the firehouse just a few blocks from our beach office.
1240 Cocoanut Road
The house at 1240 Cocoanut Road, formerly known as the Dickenson House is a locally significant property designed by Swiss-born architect Maurice Fatio. Built in 1937, the home is one of the finest examples of the Colonial Revivalist style, which is somewhat contrarian to the Mediterranean styles pushed heavily by Addison Mizner. The home was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2001.
FEC Railway Passenger Station
The FEC Passenger Railway was built by Henry Flagler's Florida East Coast Railway. Following Flagler's pivot from oil tycoon to railroad pioneer, the passenger station was finished in 1930 and became a fundamental piece of Boca Raton's post-incorporation expansion. Following the collapse of the land boom in 1928, Philadelphia utilityman Clarence A. Geist picked up where Addison Mizner left off, commissioning the passenger railway station and donating the land to the FEC, all with the intent of providing a waystation for Boca Raton's early tourists, especially those upscale citizens visiting the Boca Raton Club.
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