In the September 24, 1923 Miami Herald Joseph W. Young, “President of the Hollywood Land & Water Company,” was recognized as “one of the makers of the new Florida.” A handsome photo mural in the lobby of the Hollywood Wells Fargo bank, recently installed, IMG_1927 refers to Young as “Hollywood’s first Mayor.” Perhaps they were not aware that before there was a Hollywood city government, J. W. Young had in fact created the city itself, and therefore is better known as Hollywood’s founder.

He was indeed the first mayor as well, for less than a week.  Here’s the story: From 1921 forward, Hollywood was managed by Young and the officers of his Company.  When Young decided to have his city incorporated,     above, portion of Wells Fargo mural

this was finalized in November, 1925. A city commission was needed, so these first seats were filled by men from the Land & Water Company, appointed by the City Charter Committee. They in turn elected Young as mayor. J. W. Young, 1923

right, Joseph Young at his desk in the Hollywood Land & Water Company office he had built on Hollywood Boulevard, 1924. From Young’s Hollywood Reporter.

But Young wasn’t interested in that position and immediately resigned. He was replaced by Paul R. John, who Young had known back in Indianapolis.Paul R. John Mayor 1926-27


John had come early to Hollywood, and had built the Olive Apartments at 1800 Fillmore Street, designed by Young’s architects, Rubush & Hunter.

left, Paul R. John, 2nd mayor of Hollywood but in reality first acting mayor, December 1926 to December 1927.  Collection of the Hollywood Historical Society.


Also included in the Wells Fargo mural (top left in snapshot above) is a building with a row of vehicles in front of it. The caption says they are “automobiles in front of a garage.”  Talk about missing the point! This photo says much about J. W. Young and his ideals. The building, of course, is a garage, and it is THE FIRST BUILDING IN HOLLYWOOD, erected in 1922 and still standing at the corner of Hollywood Boulevard and 21st Avenue. Garage with trucks

To build his city Young needed fleets of work vehicles, trucks in particular, and he then needed a shop to maintain them, hence the garage. Young had all aspects of his new city under construction photographed, and the photos sent around the eastern US with his salesmen, to boost the future new city. Even a structure as workaday as a garage was designed with Mission Revival details, the curved roof parapet. Young soon sold the building which became a series of shops as it is today. But also notice that the workers sitting tall on their trucks are neatly dressed, posing for posterity. Young took similar posed photos of all the various workers. These are some of the black men who helped build Hollywood, in this case, driving the Model-T trucks. Photo from the collection of the Hollywood Historical Society.


It took hundreds of workers to create a city from the ground up, and I’ve been asked where all these workers lived. According to oral histories, many commuted from Miami, driving the Dixie Highway.  Young even had bus service for men without autos. Others no doubt came from the various nearby farm towns, and Fort Lauderdale. But many others did come by train from upper Florida and Georgia and in fact, the Hollywood Land & Water Company was constantly building workers’ housing. The September 1924 Hollywood Reporter said that a dormitory for the hotel help had been begun on

The Whitehall 1920s billVan Buren Street. It would be three stories, with 50 rooms. Eventually it became the Whitehall Hotel. Here it is, at left, actually two stories, still standing at 2036 Van Buren.

Postcard, Hollywood Historical Society.


Oral histories mention temporary frame structures that were put up near an uncleared area, then demolished when that area was laid out and ready to be sold. The September 1924 Hollywood Reporter mentions that a dormitory for “colored” workmen was being put up. It would house 96 men, and was designed and built under the direction of Young’s eldest son, Jack.


Jumping back in time for a bit, September celebrates the birth of Jessie and Joseph’s second child, on September 4, 1906 in Long Beach, California. He was named Joseph Wesley Young III and called “Tonce.” Brother John, “Jack,” was just a year older.64Mickelson

Tonce Young is pictured here at the right, with Jack Leonard, one of the company’s top salesmen. In the photo Tonce would be about twenty years old. He generally worked in the business end of his father’s companies.

photo at right by Yale Studio, courtesy of the Hollywood Historical Society.


In current papers I often read about “Fort Lauderdale’s Port Everglades,” so once again I’ll remind everyone that the port was initially developed by J. W. Young, and Hollywood still owns a large share of it. There is no question that people from Fort Lauderdale had considered the possibility of creating a port from Lake Mabel, well before Young came along. On September 4, 1913, the Miami Herald noted that Fort Lauderdale was going to try to raise $200,000 to create a deep water port. However, they didn’t.  Hollywood didn’t exist then, and around that same time J. W. Young was observing the creation of a deep water port in the Pacific Ocean, on the shores of his then-home town, Long Beach CA, under the direction of another visionary, Charles Windham, beginning as early as 1904.  Two decades later it took that bundle of enormous energy and money-raiser extraordinary, J. W. Young to get the Florida port started. IMG_0626above, from Young’s “Hollywood Reporter,” the Proposed Plan for Lake Mabel Harbor, drawn by engineer Frank Dickey, in 1926.

The drawing above shows the planned division of the port between Fort Lauderdale at the top, and Hollywood at the bottom. Hollywood seems to have the greater part of the existing Lake Mabel. Instead of $200,000 projected in 1913, the budget has grown to $6 million. This was to be divided in thirds, between the two cities, with the third put up by Young’s company. Dickey remained the chief engineer, but to oversee the project Young brought in that successful port developer, Charles Windham. Always thinking big, Young  envisioned this as “Florida’s Great World Port.”


Another interesting article from September of 1924 mentioned that Young was planning the home he would build in Hollywood. At that time he had three dwellings. In Indianapolis his family lived at 3668 Central Avenue (probably Jessie stayed there much of the time while she had three boys in school). In Miami, Young apparently owned the Granada ApartmentsIMG_0605 which he put up for sale in 1925.

from the inside cover of the Hollywood Reporter, April, 1925.

The blurb under this photo says that the apartments are “located in the historic and exclusive Fort Dallas Park and adjoining the famous Tropical Gardens of the Royal Palm Hotel,” and overlooking picturesque Biscayne Bay. But a stationary apartment wasn’t sufficient for the restless Young. By 1924 he also owned a large, odd-looking craft that was part yacht and part sea-going houseboat. Houseboat Sonora, Reporter May 1924, p. 12

This was the Sonora.  It had a crew of six, and if you can make them out, there must be a dozen people standing at the stern, so it would hold quite a party. On it Young could mosey up the Inland Waterway, today’s Intracoastal, entertaining his big investors and stockholders in grand style.


Now, back to the home Young was planning to build in Hollywood, according to his September, 1924 Reporter. This was not the one on Hollywood Boulevard (which was also being planned). This one would be situated one mile north of Johnson Street on an entire block on the Atlantic Ocean. In the center of this block was a large, fresh-water lake, which may be seen in an aerial photo in the Hollywood Historical Society. In this, the Broadwalk continues as far north as the area around today’s Sheridan Street, and just visible there is a little round, shiny eye. This must be that lake. My parents told me it was called Duck Lake.  Did Young ever build there? No, and a good thing, too. When I was a child it never ceased to enchant me to drive north on Ocean Drive, asking my parents to show me again where Duck Lake was. Because there was no lake by then. The monster hurricane storm surge of 1926 completely filled it in.


Yes, it is. I won’t discuss the ’26 blow as I’ve already done that. The next big storm to annoy Hollywood was in 1947. Actually there were two that year. The first came on September 17. It was not particularly destructive. People in Hollywood knew how to build and protect themselves from hurricanes by then. If you’re thinking of the flood of ’47 that  came in October, so I’ll discuss it next post.


The September, 1943 Hollywood Sun-Tattler is filled with news about the local war effort, from bond drives, to patriotic parades, to the Service Men’s Club, to local citizens who were in the service. The latter included former mayor Theodore Raper,Reporters, Mayors, 26 storm 035 who resigned from office on September 4, 1942 to enter the armed forces.

right, Theodore R. Raper. From the collection of the Hollywood Historical Society.

By September 1943 the townspeople were fully organized for the war effort. They headed rationing boards, Selective Service boards, bond drives. The tangible results of one bond drive took the form of a $75,000 pursuit plane, which was bought with money raised for bonds by pupils at Hollywood Central School.Aug. 20 '43 S-T p. 1

The plane was pictured in the August 20, 1943 Tattler, with a caption saying that it was named “The Hollywood Central School, Florida.”

A major bond drive was underway in September, 1943, headed by Hollywoodian S. S. Holland (not the governor), general chair of Hollywood’s Third War Loan drive, who planned a dinner at $1,000 a plate. This dinner was held at the Hollywood Cafe. John Doliana, proprietor of the restaurant, donated 50 dinners. At the time the paper came out, $14,000 had already been raised.  Other local restaurants also held dinners. According to Virginia TenEick, at war’s end the final total raised for war bonds in tiny Hollywood was an astonishing $15,000,000.

From the early days of Hollywood under J. W. Young, Hollywood regularly turned out to put on parades, and wartime was no exception.  The lineup of units in the September, 1943 bond paradeSep 10 '43 p. S-T included Hollywood police, city officials from Hollywood, Dania, Hallandale and Davie, the Army Air Force Band from Boca Raton and the Seventh Naval District Band, members of the Army, Navy, WAVEs, and civic organizations. All marching in full uniform under the scorching September sun.

Named in the paper were various local individuals who were taking part in the war effort. One was R. E. Barthelemy of 1329 Polk Street, a naturalized American who had served in the French army. Finding himself too old now to join the American armed forces, he went to London and was currently serving with General DeGaulle and the Free French there.

Etta Cappleman, president of the Hollywood American Legion Auxiliary was appointed local chair of a campaign to encourage women between the ages of 20 and 36 to join the US Marine Corps Woman’s Reserve. Also on September 3, 1943 the paper announced that Miss Helen Swann of 2300 North Ocean Drive, had entered the WAVEs and was awaiting assignment. She lived with her mother and stepfather, Mr. and Mrs. Ernest Barker. Miss Patricia Butler, daughter of Dr. and Mrs. B. F. Butler, had joined the US Army Nurses Reserve Corps, while WAC Sgt. Jeannette Amerson, “now with the anti-aircraft corps,” was home on furlough. She was the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Henry E. Dagley.


As perhaps you can tell, I am particularly interested in learning more about all the Hollywood-connected women who served in the WACs, WAVES, Marines, SPARS and WASPS, including the nursing corps in World War II. PLEASE EMAIL ME WITH ANY INFORMATION YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE. PHOTOS WOULD BE WONDERFUL AS WELL.  Send info to


If you are interested in reading more about any of my topics about Hollywood in the 1920s, may I remind my readers that I’ve covered most of them in greater detail, with references, in my book Joseph W.Young, Jr., and the City Beautiful. A Biography of the Founder of Hollywood, Florida. It’s available at the Hollywood Historical Society, or all the major book outlets. Recently the book received a three-page review by William G. Crawford, Jr. in The Florida Historical Quarterly, summer 2014. He describes the book as well-indexed, well-researched, richly illustrated, and “should appeal to those interested in Florida biography, early south Florida city planning, and the evolution of south Florida architecture.”




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