The month of February marks a number of beginnings and endings for J. W. Young and early Hollywood. Most serious was the death of Joseph W. Young, Jr. himself on February 27, 1934 J. W. Young's favorite photoat his home on Hollywood Boulevard.

With him were a business associate and his beloved wife of thirty years, Jessie. He was 51 years old.

Right:  Young’s favorite photo of himself, taken in New York ten years earlier, 1923.

Young had been quite ill for some months, living then in New York. He was thought to have a flu, and finally he and Jessie decided the Florida sun might help cure him, so they came down by train to their home in Hollywood. At first Young did seem better. But it wasn’t a flu, it was his heart, and it suddenly attacked him, leaving him just time to call Jessie to his side before he died.

Recently I have heard that rumors today, 80 years later, suggest that Joseph Young died by suicide.  This is a terrible rumor to spread, about a man famous for his positive outlook on life, for himself and for everyone around him. In fact, just moments before his death Young was discussing possibilities for the future of Hollywood.

To get an idea of how much Young accomplished in Hollywood alone, note that it was on February 19, 1921, just thirteen earlier, that the Hollywood Land & Water Company (Young’s initial Hollywood business) was incorporated with $1,000,000 capital, according to the Miami Metropolitan Herald. Signing the papers with Young were Lillian Allen and DeWeese C. Nevin.

Interestingly, it was in February of 1887 that Harvey Wilcox filed a map of his Cahuenga Valley, California ranch with the county recorder for subdivision purposes. The name of the subdivision was Hollywood.  For more about the naming of Hollywood, California, see my previous post, of January, 2014.

Even before Young got his company incorporated he had sent 12 men down from Indianapolis in December of 1920 to get work started.  On February 5, 1921, according to my father Tony Mickelson, he and his survey crew began laying out the streets and blocks for the future city.1921 hollywood blvd 4

Left: Hollywood Boulevard in 1921, from 21st Avenue looking east. From the estate of Tony Mickelson.

Allen and Nevin each built homes in early Hollywood. Miss Allen’s home in mentioned in Virginia TenEick’s history with no address, while D. C. and Florence Nevin had a handsome bungalow at 1929 Van Buren Street. Nevin was one of the Land & Water Company’s most persuasive and genial “lecturers.” 1st sales pavilion Harrison St.

At right is Hollywood’s first sales office, just east of 21st Avenue on what would be Harrison Street. Note the crowds of people, cars and buses who came to hear Nevin and others talk about the future of Florida. They were given a sandwich, fruit, pie and coffee, and then urged to buy, which many did. As the population grew, there were children to educated. This became the school while Young was building Central School. Courtesy Hollywood Historical Society

2nd sales Pavilion, BoulevardAbove, Hollywood’s second sales pavilion, also known as Hollywood Lecture Hall, which stood on Hollywood Boulevard, south side at 16th Avenue.  The staff of the Hollywood company held Saturday night dances here in the early 1920s.Casino under construction, 1924

At right, in the far distance, center, is the Beach sales pavilion, a large 2-story frame structure. The site today is Charnow Park. In the center of the photo cars line Johnson Street, and in left foreground the Beach Casino is being laid out. 1924. Photo courtesy Hollywood Historical Society.

On February 12, 1923 Lillian Allen together with J. W. Young and Frank Dickey signed the plat for Hollywood Beach First Extension when Young bought the portion of the beach island to the north of today’s Johnson Street. On July 3, 1922 Allen signed the plat for the Little Ranches. She signed as Secretary of the corporation.

In February, 1922 Young began publishing his Hollywood Reporter, the first of his numerous publications and a mine of facts about Hollywood from 1922-24.  No one has located issue No. 1, 1922, so if you have a copy would you share it?

In February, 1923 J. Rogers Gore began the weekly Hollywood News.

In February, 1924 the Hollywood Reporter announced the first home to be built on the beach, by J. L. Frank of Buffalo, NY.Frank house beach Buchanan

As you see, it was a two-story, cement block and stucco building. It was on today’s Buchanan Street, near the Broadwalk, but was demolished several years ago, leaving the Coral House on Indiana Street as the oldest building on the beach today.

Business-related news of February, 1924:

J. W. Young was to head Hollywood’s first large bank, with backing from Miami banker Ed Romfh. Hollywood State Bank, Blvd. & 20th

Right: Hollywood’s first bank, Hollywood State Bank, was at the corner of Hollywood Boulevard and 20th Avenue. Courtesy Hollywood Historical Society.

At the same time another banker (and likely investor in Young properties), Sol Meyer, president of the Meyer-Kiser financial institution of Indianapolis was staying at the Hollywood Hotel (renamed the Park View Hotel). A friend of Carl Fisher, Meyer had been coming to Miami since 1915, and “was now taking an interest in Hollywood.”

bank drawing

Above: Drawing of future First National Bank of Hollywood, by Rubush & Hunter, 1925 This building replaced the original bank, which had been demolished.

bank jl

The top floor, planned as a hotel, was never built.

Left: 20th Avenue facade of Young’s bank, now SunTrust, with original windows and columns covered over. 2005

As the First National Bank, it represented hope since this bank never closed throughout the national Depression.

That same month, February, 1924, Young had his boatyard on the Miami River begin building his yacht, to be christened the “Jessie Faye” in 1925.Hwd boat & transport.

Right, this image shows Young’s Hollywood Boat & Transportation building with the bow of the yacht visible within.

The yacht was 102 feet long with a 40 foot deck house for the dining room, library and pilot house, and six staterooms below, each with private bath. There were quarters for a crew of eight, as well.

In February, 1925 the Miami Metropolis Herald announced that work had started on Young’s major construction, the Hollywood Beach Hotel.

February 22, 1928 brought yet another major accomplishment for J. W. Young to conclusion when President Calvin Coolidge pressed a button in Washington and Port Everglades, then Port Bay Mabel was opened. The name “Port Hollywood” had also been considered, but must have been set aside when Fort Lauderdale raised one-third of the original costs, together with Hollywood and Young himself.IMG_0630

This page at right from Young’s magazine South is part of a long article about the port.  Pictured here is Lake Mabel before port development began. At that time Young’s companies owned all the beach island up to Lake Mabel, and all the land surrounding the lake as well.

IMG_0626Left, from the same article, this drawing by engineer Frank Dickey, shows the proposed division of the port between Hollywood and Fort Lauderdale.

February continued to be a month of endings for Young, as well as beginnings.

In February, 1933, a year before Young’s death, architect Addison Mizner died in Boca Raton. In the mid-1920s Young and Mizner were mentioned together, with Carl Fisher and David Merrick, as the “most prominent city builders” of Boomtime Florida. There’s no question that they knew each other, since Young had included a five-page feature on Mizner in his Hollywood Magazine of September 1925.Addison Mizner in Hollywood Magazine Sept 1925 p. 33

And it’s well to note that although Mizner was a famous and gifted architect, recognized since before 1920, he did not begin to create his city, Boca Raton, until well after Young, Merrick and Fisher had theirs up, built and populated.

Addison’s brother Wilson Mizner had died in February, 1924.

Young’s vice president of Hollywood Land & Water Company, Frank O. Van Deren died just days before Young, on February 23, 1934.

Van Deren home 1925Left, home of Frank O. Van Deren, 1925, at 1455 Harrison Street. Young had insisted that his top-earning salesmen build homes in Hollywood to substantiate their belief in the burgeoning city. Courtesy Hollywood Historical Society.

With the nation deep into the Depression in the 1930s the city floundered for a time.  But while this post will end on a sad note, Young’s city of Hollywood of course has grown and thrived.

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  1. Thomas C. Mikell says:

    My mother was the secretary for the Hollywood Reporter in the mid 20’s. Her name was Emma LaCroix. She married E.H. Mikell in Jan. 1926.

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