HOLLYWOOD, FLORIDA, JUNE, 1922. HOUSING STARTS: BUILDING TO CODE AND BY DESIGN

Ninety years ago, in June of 1922, or just a year after Young had his land cleared and some of the major streets surveyed, people were snapping up home sites, and contractors from all over were buying property and putting up houses.

Two of Hollywood’s first homes, built in today’s Parkside section as they appear today after 90 years and various storms. The house on the right is particularly well-maintained.

At this time Young’s Hollywood Land & Water Company did not build homes, but Young had a vision of what homes in his city should look like. He had his architects Rubush & Hunter design a variety of house styles that he would accept in his Central residential area, and later in the Lakes section. These styles included California Mission, Spanish-Moorish, the adobe, and the California bungalow as created by the Greene brothers of Pasadena.

Please note: in the 1920s there was no building style designated “Mediterranean Revival.” This catch-all term did not come into vogue until well after World War II. Young never saw the Mediterranean, but he did have a great love of California. In fact, he and his wife Jessie are buried there.

From the beginning of his city Young instituted a zoning system and codes that provided for uniform building restrictions. From 1922 to 1926 hundreds of homes were built in Hollywood following Young’s prescribed guidelines. The fact that Young insisted on building to code is important, and not only for the uniform handsome look the early buildings provide for the city. Young’s code also provided stability. In 1991 when the Broward County Historical Commission drew up a list of significant historical structures in Hollywood, there were nearly 1,000 on their list, chiefly homes. Today although a few of those have been torn down or destroyed by neglect, the majority stand, especially in the Parkside and Lakes sections. And realize, please, that all of these endured the horrific 1926 hurricane, not to mention all the subsequent hurricanes. Credit must be given to Young’s building codes, and to those builders who adhered to them.

In areas that were not restricted by Young’s codes, including the Little Ranches and subdivisions along north 18th Avenue between Hollywood and Dania (it didn’t become U.S. 1 until 1931) individuals were free to erect whatever structures they could. Young didn’t own the land from Johnson Street north along 18th Avenue, and he didn’t restrict dwellings in the Little Ranches. Consequently, while some homes in these areas were built to be structurally sound, many were frame boxes, little better than tents. These are the ones often pictured that did not survive the 1926 storm. So if you own an 1920s home in Hollywood today, it is built to last.

We have the names of some of the contractors who built the earliest houses in 1922 to 1924. If you have a 1920s home in the Central (Parkside) or Lakes section, it might have been built by one of these contractors. The first to erect houses in Hollywood, in the residential area to the south of Downtown, was Harry Bastian. He was brought in by Young, who winkled him away from another bigtime developer, Carl Fisher, when Bastian was working for Fisher on Miami Beach. Others were Homer Masick from Los Angeles, who bought 12 lots near the future Central School, Charles Schindler from Texas, C. Carrolin from St. Louis who bought 12 residence lots, and Gilmore and Gilmore from Leesburg, Florida who bought five lots on Monroe Street in 1922 and planned to buy more. W. W. Kington, who bought 30 lots, was a wealthy mine owner from Kentucky. He and his wife Minnie moved to Hollywood in 1922 to become among Young’s earliest and strongest supporters.

Homer Mesick or Messick built this home in 1922.

Below, the Kington home, at the corner of Van Buren and the Dixie Highway, placed there by Kington to show travelers that Hollywood had handsome dwellings. Sadly this historic structure was demolished in 2005, and replaced by an enormous condo.

Both photos, by Yale Studios, were circulated widely throughout the U.S. by the Young company.

I have listed this information with the thought that homeowners might find the names useful if they are researching the history of their properties. Happily, in the Miami Herald for June 24, 2012, Home & Design section, page H1, there is an article by Shirley Salemy Meyer called “How to dig up the history of your house.” Among the sources for information that she mentions is your local historical society. So here is a plug for the Hollywood Historical Society, founded in 1974 and chock full of information and photos of early (and later) Hollywood, Florida, with over 18,000 items in its Research Center. The contact is http://www.HollywoodHistoricalSociety and the phone is 954-923-5590.Ms. Meyer mentions fire insurance maps, and indeed, the 1926 Sanborn map for Hollywood is a key source for every building including garages and sheds that stood in Hollywood by 1925. She also warns against “community stories and legends” about your area. Unless there is documentation behind the legend, it probably isn’t true.

These are snapshots from my family’s scrapbook. This is the home of Thomas McCarrel, about 1925. As a contractor McCarrel built the Hollywood Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard, which became the Ritz Theatre.

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