Out of the Wilderness, This City: Plantation’s History
Frederick Peters moved his family to South Florida in 1931 to escape the harsh Midwest winters. He purchased 10,000 acres along State Road 7/441, which had been built to connect Miami-Dade to Palm Beach County, and at that time was isolated and far west of any existing development. Mr. Peters hired noted architect Russell Pancoast to develop a City master plan, which included an ordinance preventing homes next to each other from looking alike, minimum lot size restrictions and separate commercial, industrial and residential zoning districts. The first construction took place on East Acre Drive by Chauncey Clark. The idea was to entice people to buy “long acres,” which were one-acre lots with 2/3 of the land dedicated to gardens and fruit trees. The plan was to create a co-op farmer’s market where residents could pool their produce and sell it for a profit.
With a population of less than 500 and a budget of $1,288, the City of Plantation was incorporated on April 30, 1953. The first Council Meeting was held on May 11, 1953 in an old feed warehouse near the intersection of East Acre Drive and Broward Boulevard. This site would be later used for the construction of the first City Hall, Fire Station and Police Department. Ellsworth D. Gage was the first Mayor of the City.
The Police Department was organized in 1955. The Council hired Henry C. Donath at an annual salary of $4,200 to work 8-hour shifts and to be on call 24-hours a day. One year later, a second policeman was hired onto the force. In 1957, the Plantation Volunteer Fire Department was founded by residents. They held a barbecue to raise funds to help offset the cost of training and equipment, a tradition that continues today.
The Parks and Recreation Department was formed along with the Plantation Athletic League (PAL). As the demand for public services increased, the need for more land for city facilities also grew. In addition to the newly built Community Center, a new building for the Library was built in 1968. Also, plans for a new City Hall were underway. The City Hall that exists today was dedicated in 1973.
During the 1970s through the 1990s, the City grew rapidly, but the warmth of Frederick Peters’ 1940s small village atmosphere remained. As thousands began to move into the City, land to the west was annexed. The City’s boundaries were now from State Road 7 to Flamingo Road, a distance of about seven miles (plus the area surrounding the Lago Mar Colony Country Club west to 136th Avenue), and from Sunrise Boulevard south to North New River Canal. The park system continued to grow with the addition of the Deicke Auditorium and Central Park.
Today, we have a population of nearly 85,000 with 55 diverse cultures. Major employers include nationally recognized companies such as: American Express, Motorola, Florida Power and Light, University of Miami Sylvester Cancer Center, Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, DHL, National Beverage, Plantation General Hospital and Westside Regional Medical Center.
The City of Plantation’s public/private golf facility, Plantation Preserve Golf Course and Club, includes a challenging, 18-hole championship golf course, a beautiful clubhouse with stunning panoramic views, state of the art practice facilities including a private Member-only practice area, Everglades-inspired wetlands situated throughout the back nine, and a 55-acre, 1.1 mile linear multi-use trail that is one-of-a-kind in the country and safely bisects the front and back nines. We also expanded our park system with two new signature parks: Plantation Woods, a forest themed park and water playground located in Plantation’s Historic District (Fig Tree Lane and Palm Tree Road); and Camp Everglades, an Everglades-inspired park located Plantation Acres at Volunteer Park (W. Sunrise Boulevard). The Helen B. Hoffman Plantation Library is one of the few municipal libraries in a county where most libraries are regionally operated.
Plantation’s Police Department is nearly 200 strong and its Volunteer Fire Department is the largest and one of the highest rated volunteer departments in the State of Florida. There are ten public schools to educate elementary, middle and high school-aged children and numerous day care, charter and private schools.
Plantation boasts one of the lowest millage rates in Broward County and a strong-Mayor form of government that is committed to quality redevelopment and neighborhood stabilization through world class recreation facilities. The City’s business districts – Plantation Gateway, Plantation Midtown and Plantation Technology Park – offer an alternative to the congestion and fast pace of a downtown.
In keeping with Frederick Peters’ original Master Plan, Plantation retains its original home town charm, and offers all the amenities of a large city, but with the safety and security of a smaller community. Community events, parades and holiday celebrations are highlights throughout the year, providing memories that last a lifetime and traditions passed down from generation to generation.