History Of Floral Lakes
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(Researched & Prepared by Dolores Eldridge)
Back in the early 1960s, our park was a beautifu1 orange grove. Around that time, because phosphate was very much in demand, the International Minera1s and Chemical Corporation (IMC) bought the grove and mined the phosphate from 1965 to 1966. The mines lay dormant for several years but were in production again from June to August of 1969, at which time all mining here ceased. The land was subsequently reclaimed from 1970 to 1972.
During the reclamation period one of the local businessmen leased the land for his horses. One of the horses fell and almost drowned in the “pits”, as our lakes were called. He moved them to another area. Many of the local people also enjoyed hunting and fishing in this man-made preserve.
It was purchased in 1973 by the United Republic Insurance Company of Pennsylvania (known as URI). URI maintained ownership until 1979. During that time there were two developers. The first, UI, a subsidiary of URI, designed our community of 336 home sites exactly as it is today and called it Azalea Lakes Estates. This name was quickly changed to Mission del Amo and the Spanish influence can still be seen today in both the names of our streets and the design and décor of our clubhouse and recreational area. The community was to be a “condominium concept in mobile homes”. However, fear of radiation during this period kept the developer from being successful. In 1976, another developer took over and changed the name to Blue Cove and decided on modular homes instead of mobile homes.
The developers of Blue Cove tried to dispel the fear of radiation with a promotion centered around Charlie Smith – at that time, the oldest living man in the United States. He was well past 100 and had been born and lived his entire life in Bartow. This promotion resulted in the sale of eight modular homes. During 1977-78, these residents enjoyed the use of our swimming pool and clubhouse. The city lists the formal opening of our recreational area as June, 1979.
After three years of promotion and only eight sales, the developers of Blue Cove were on the verge of bankruptcy and URI was anxious to sell the entire project.
Charles Friedlander had been promoting another park and was excited about the potential he saw in Blue Cove. He convinced Morris Messing, who was Executive Vice-President of Occidental Petroleum, to buy the property. In 1979, Mr. Messing, along with two other investors (who were later bought out) purchased the entire complex including the 13 acres at our entrance for 1 .2 million.
The eight modular homes were moved out and the owners of the newly named Floral Lakes decided to return to the original concept of mobile homes. They were not sure if there should be singlewides, doublewides or a combination of both. They set up three models: one single wide on Lot #17 (Williams), a double wide on Lot #59 (Fernandez) and another double wide on Lot #61 (Weber). It was soon apparent that only doublewides should be erected, using homes from different manufacturers to achieve the distinctive look we now have. Their first sale was to Ed and Betty Lindhorst who chose Lot #276 for their Fleetwood Barrington.
Many sales followed thereafter under the guidance of Charles Friedlander who managed and promoted the park. In December of 1986, Floral Lakes was turned over to the residents who occupied 310 home sites. We are now a self-governing community with our own ‘Board of Directors’
(Researched & Prepared by Gilbert Klein)
The property known as “Floral Lakes Mobile Home Park” was once owned and mined by the I.M.C. Mining Co. After mining operation stopped in early 1950, I.M.C. built a “Gentlemen’s Hunting and Fishing Lodge with a swimming pool. That’s our Clubhouse as we know it today – with arches and walkways around the building. Inside, hung an impressive wrought iron chandelier approximately five feet in diameter. There was a Great Room with a large arched fireplace, dance floor, library, card room, pool tables and a wet bar. Large pictures of bull fighters hung on the walls.
After a few years I.M.C. sold the property to a land developer who named it “Blue Lagoon”. It was to be very exclusive subdivision with 1/4 acre lots and very expensive homes. This plan was not successful and a second developer purchased the land and renamed it “Mission Del Amo”. Lot sizes were reduced and it was to become a mobile home park. To the best of my knowledge a total of five homes were sold and people began moving in. Other clearing and road work was also being done in the park.
In the late 1970’s a third developer, Mr. M. Messing and a partner purchased the park and renamed it “Floral Lakes.” Lot plans were drawn up and submitted to the City of Bartow. They were accepted and approved by the City Commission on June 14, 1970. Mr. Messing immediately purchased/bought out the owners of the existing five houses and had them removed. Development was begun and street signs erected. The entrance street was called “Bulivar De Las Flores”. Other street names were Lake Del Amo Drive, Bele Isle Lane, Granada Bay, Spanish Cove, Bitter Sweet Turn, La Plaza Ave, Del Sol Ave, and Ros Court. It was at this time that the partners disagreed on whether lots should be rented or owned by the residents. Mr. Messinng’s dream was to build a the best park in the State of Florida where people could purchase lot and house in one package deal. He bought his partner out and became sole founder and developer. Lots were cleared and model homes were brought in. Highways leading to Bartow sprouted. “Floral Lakes” billboards, brochures and publicity sheets were printed and sent North offering a free two day, one night stay in a “Floral Lakes Guest House” with the invitation to see the Park, meet the people and check out mobile home living. People did come, liked what they saw, stayed and purchased homes. The first family to move in Floral Lakes was Edward and Betty Lindhorst, #276 in October of 1979.
Mr. Messing passed away in 1985 and the residents of Floral Lakes erected a flagpole in front of the Clubhouse in his memory. I believe that he accomplished his goal and dream of building the best park in the state of Florida. Step outside your home; take a good slow look around you. I think you’ll agree that Floral Lakes is “Florida’s Finest Mobile Home Park”
The grounds on either side of the main entrance were purchased from Mr. Messinng’s widow in 1990, thus ensuring us a beautiful and private entrance with no homes or commercial buildings to block the view.
Today, Floral Lakes is a proud beautiful park of 336 well kept homes. The “Lake” consists of eighty-five acres with four and a half miles of shoreline. We publish our own phone book and a monthly newsletter. An elected Board of Directors, all of who are property owners, manages the “Park”. Many varied activities take place daily in the Park, Clubhouse and Pool.
We are most proud of the fact that we aren’t just neighbors – but, friends and warm, caring people.
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A Story About Floral Lakes
(A poem by Ray Thompson)
This is a story about a Park,
Where you can take a walk after dark.
To live in the Park you must be fifty-five,
And the beauty of it will keep you alive.
There is plenty to do, including bingo,
But you will have to understand all the lingo.
We have people from a lot of states,
Some of them with and some without mates.
In this park there is plenty to do.
There is so much, you will never be blue.
We have swimming and tennis for the young and old,
And then we play golf and some of us bowl.
There are bridge games and euchre too,
Shuffleboard and horseshoes as some will do.
There’s something to do if you take the time,
And most of it won’t cost a dime.
The Park is great and could be a lot better,
If all the people lived up to the letter.
There is line dancing and Spanish class,
And all who attend really have a blast.
Take a break and come on down,
And take a look at our beautiful town.
We will make sure that you’re treated nice,
And you will find a home at the right price.
1981 Ad for Floral Lakes