COUNTERING MYTHS. From time to time I hear some truly silly myths about early Hollywood, such as the two highlighted in my header. So I will try to dispel these myths with facts. Generally, the facts can be found in my books, in particular Joseph W. Young, Jr. and the City Beautiful. A Biography of the Founder of Hollywood, Florida.*MicklelsonPCardF2

I will also answer queries, if I can.


HOW JOSEPH YOUNG DIED. First off, and most alarming is the extraordinary tale that city founder J. W. Young was shot to death in his home on Hollywood Boulevard. By who? Al Capone? But I jest. It is thoroughly documented that Young died in his home as a result of a severe heart attack. His wife Jessie was at his side, as were several friends. For the complete story please read pages 172-74 in my biography of Young, and/or page xxvi in Virginia TenEick’s History of Hollywood.** TenEick

Another common myth about Young is that he died destitute. This is hardly the case. It is true that Young lost all the properties he owned in Hollywood except for his home on Hollywood Boulevard. However, in May of 1928 Young’s new company, the Hollywood Hills Company of New York, bought 17,000 acres in the Adirondacks, where Young proceeded to plan and built a resort he called Hollywood in-the-Hills.  (I’ve written about this in previous blogs as well as in the biography).


Hollywood Hills Hotel, Old Forge NY 1940Hollywood Hills Hotel, Old Forge, NY

Built by J. W. Young; completed after his death, in 1935.

Young’s Hollywood in-the-Hills, on First Lake, in Old Forge, New York.


From 1928 to 1933 Joseph and Jessie Young lived in a suite in the new and sumptuous Roosevelt Hotel in NYC, and Young had an elegant suite of offices nearby on Fifth Avenue. There’s more to the story of Young’s last years, but the point is, he was NOT shot, and he was anything but destitute.

LIBERIA CREATED, 1923. Liberia was created from empty land by J. W. Young in 1923. For anyone who is history-challenged, that was over 50 years after slavery was legally ended in the USA. No runaway slaves involved, and yes, he paid all his workers. Segregation was still then in force, which is one reason Young planned that Liberia would be “America’s new town for African Americans.” Young was anticipating that “wealthy colored people” would share the prosperity that Hollywood then enjoyed. [Source is Hollywood Reporter, 2, no. 7 [July 1923].Disk 4 city 001

Right, workers laying rock bed for Liberia Boulevard, 1923. Pine trees indicate this is dry, solid ground. Looking west from Dixie Highway.

17MickelsonBelow, for comparison, workers laying rock bed for Hollywood Boulevard, 1921. Looking east from Dixie Highway. Also dry, solid ground.

Courtesy Hollywood Historical Society


Streets Renamed.   Speaking of Liberia, isn’t it time that the streets that were part of Young’s original plan were changed back to the names he gave them, on the plat for Liberia in the Broward County records, drawn by Frank Dickey in 1923 [See above, and illustrated in my Young biography, page 95].  Young named the streets north of Coolidge (the then current president) for US cities with large black populations. As shown on the 1923 plat, above, the streets are Chicago, Savannah, Raleigh, Louisville, Baltimore, Atlanta, Macon, and Charleston. Now, many of these streets are named for figures from the Confederacy. For example, in my Guide book, I note that Simms Street, now apparently named for a Confederate general, was originally named Chicago Street by the Young company.
I don’t know when they were changed, but I don’t think the intention was positive. Rather than try to find who was behind the name change, why not just change the names back to the original, historic names?


Mentioning Young’s death leads in to the origins of Founder’s Day, celebrated on (or about) August 4th, the date of Young’s birth. I will reprint the proclamation given by Mayor Arthur W. Kellner, dated August 1, 1935, in the August blog.

Arthur Kellner

Arthur Kellner

Here is a list of the movers and shakers:

R. B. Walker, chairman, Chamber of Commerce Committee
T. D. Ellis, Jr., President of the Chamber of Commerce
Henry Mann
T. L. Norfleet
Rev. Thomas H. Sprague
Mark Tully
C. L. Walsh
Helen Whatley
Fred Willis
Founder’s Day this year will be held at the Hollywood Historical Society, 1520 Polk Street, on August 9, 2015, from 1:00 to 4:00 pm. Admission is free.

On July 9, 1922, the Clyde Line began serving Miami, according to the Miami Times Union. Among those who traveled down in comfort by steamship instead of by flivver was my mother, Lamora Gleason. She arrived in 1925, coming down from Vermont to see what her brother John was up to.

Lamora Gleason, Beach Hotel, 1926.

Lamora Gleason, Beach Hotel, 1926.

There are wonderful photos of Clyde Line steamships on Florida Memory.

At right, Lamora Gleason, later Mickelson, on the roof of the new Beach Hotel, 1925 or 1926.

Photo collection of Joan Mickelson.

In July of 1924, Ocean Drive was begun as a real road, instead of just a track for trucks. It began at Johnson Street and would continue to Washington Street. Today of course this is part of historic A1A.

In 1925 the Tyler Building was erected, a 3-story building on the SE corner of Tyler Street and 20th Avenue. There was a series of small shops on the ground level, running along 20th Avenue. In 1925 the Masons and Eastern Star had their lodge on the second floor, until they built their own 2-story building at 19th Avenue and McKinley Street.

Taylor St. and 19th Ave.

Taylor St. and 19th Ave.

In July of 1943 the building was for sale through Charles Dagley real estate, having been purchased from the Henry A. Julius estate by Harry H. Harter.

s-t July 23 '43 Harry Harter buys Tyler Bldg. from Henry Julius

s-t July 23 ’43 Harry Harter buys Tyler Bldg. from Henry Julius

Left, Tyler Building in 1925. Photo courtesy Hollywood Historical Society Below, Tyler Building in 1943, from the  Sun-Tattler.

At some point the second story was removed; below is a photo of the 90-year-old Tyler Building in 2015

Tyler building Tyler and 20th, July 2015

Tyler building Tyler and 20th, July 2015

Small shops still line the durable building along the east side of 20th Avenue.

Am LegionIn 1925 Charles Dagley built another Hollywood landmark at 205-07 North 21st Avenue. SEE PHOTO BELOW. Constructed, like the Hollywood Beach Hotel, of poured concrete, the building like the Beach Hotel, survived the 1926 hurricane

Today this is the home of Hollywood’s American Legion Post 92.

The Legion bought the building from Tim Egan in June, 1943, and held the formal dedication on July 4, 1943.


Above left, building entrance.  Above right, view across 21st Avenue looking south. Building entrance is at left, from the parking lot.


As the 1943 Sun-Tattler article notes, Dagley put his building next to what was then Hollywood’s first City Hall

At right, looking north down 21st Avenue. Blue walls indicate the Legion building. Beyond is Hollywood’s first city hall, now a restaurant.


As the 1943 Sun-Tattler article notes, Dagley put his office building next to what was then Hollywood’s first City Hall.

first City Hall, 1926

first City Hall, 1926

Right, Hollywood’s first City Hall, built in 1924 by J. W. Young as a printing press for his many publications. When he incorporated his city in 1925 he donated the building to serve as both City Hall and Hollywood’s first Police Station.      

Circle, Park View & Great Southern, photo

Circle, Park View & Great Southern, photo


Another Dagley building from 1925 appears to be in jeopardy. This is a single-story row of stores on the SE corner of US 1 and Young Circle (18th Avenue). In the photo at right, it is the flat structure with a black roof on the south side of the circle, on the left edge of the picture. As of today, this survivor from Hollywood’s beginning years has been completely covered with graffiti/art, and is nearly reduced to insignificance by the multi-story buildings looming over it.         

Also in this 1930s aerial, starting at the bottom going clockwise are the Park View Hotel, the Kagey Mansion (now Art & Culture Center), the Dagley shops, US 1, don’t know, gas station, Great Southern Hotel, Hollywood Boulevard, empty lot with tiny Chamber of Commerce at center, and so on.
J. W. Young’s original City Beautiful, like much of south Florida, is rapidly falling victim to a form of Gigantism (also known as giantism (from Greek γίγας gigas, “giant”, plural γίγαντες gigantes), a condition characterized by excessive growth and height significantly above average. Another sorry example of this architectural gigantism is the state of the oldest surviving building on Hollywood beach, the Coral House at 324 Indiana Street. Coral-Russo 2nd on beach

Built in March, 1924 by the  Daniel Russo family as a single story dwelling, the house was enlarged to two stories, and later the rock surface was plastered over.

Thoughtless developers, indifferent to our city’s original charm, now have this 1924 coral rock structure—also Hollywood’s first hospital—in a vise-like squeeze.

Frank & Russo houses 1925This detail from a 1925 panoramic photo shows Johnson Street in the foreground. At far left is the western facade of the swimming Casino. In the center is the first house built on the beach by J.L. Frank from Buffalo NY in February, 1924, at 329 Buchanan Street (recently demolished). At center right is the Russo coral rock house, before the second story was added.  Photo Courtesy Hollywood Historical Society, gift of Sandy Deffler.

HURRICANES. In July of 1926 Hollywood residents experienced the fringes of a hurricane, which amounted to rain and wind squalls and high waves that reached the Broadwalk. This “teaser” hurricane caused Hollywood’s many newcomers to the subtropics to believe that hurricanes were exciting, but not so terrible, leaving most completely unprepared for the real storm that would devastate them two months later.

THE 40s. WARTIME.  In July of 1943 the newspapers, like their readers, were almost entirely focused on the war effort. By then there were two naval training schools in Hollywood (there would eventually be three more). The first to arrive had been the Naval Air Gunners, occupying the hotel that had become Riverside Military Academy, and soon after the Naval Air Navigators School had taken over the swank Hollywood Beach Hotel. Rear Admiral A. B. Cook, in command of Naval Air Operational Training, had high praise for Hollywood’s two schools, noting that many men trained here aided in the battles at Midway, the Coral Sea, and in the Aleutians.
Also that month our hometown paper quoted a letter from Henry “Hank” Saunders, South Broward High School class of 1938 to his parents. Saunders, who was “at sea” wrote to say he frequently met “boys who trained at the Hollywood Gunnery School” who said Hollywood was “perfect” and they hoped to return here after “the war is won.” And indeed, many of them did just that.
By this time the armed forces were recruiting women. That month the Coast Guard sent two SPARS, both seamen 2nd class as recruiters to urge young women to join their branch, so as to free able-bodied men for duty. The SPAR training station was in the Biltmore Hotel in Palm Beach.  The Navy’s WAVES had already been recruiting successfully in Hollywood. On page 1 of the July 23, 1943 Tattler there is a column “Miss Trine Sworn in as WAVE. First Local Girl To Sign Up During First Anniversary Recruiting Drive.” The first anniversary was for the service itself, the WAVES. Gwendolyn Trine, graduate of SBHS, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. George Trine of Hayes Street on the beach, was off to boot camp at Hunter College in New York. The American Legion auxiliary gave her a going-away party.
In the same edition it was announced that the Army needs nurses; in other months we find the WACs and Marines also recruiting women.
And on the home front, even the children were involved in the war effort. Generally they bought 10-cent war stamps toward a bond, and collected tinfoil from cigarette wrappers, but they also took part in Bundles for Britain, a national charity organized in 1940 to send non-military aid such as food and clothes to citizens of Great Britain. The July 30, 1943 Tattler singled out one little girl for adding her doll “that cries and sleeps” with its own wardrobe, also warm pajamas for a child, and two story books. The little donor was Ann Haller, of 1501 North 16th Court. I’m sure that several of my readers will have photos of our classmate Ann Haller.

CHEETAH MISSING. Also in the July 30, 1943 was the startling announcement that “Kali, the cheetah” was missing. This beautiful animal was part of the menagerie owned by Leila Roosevelt Denis and her husband Armand Denis, at their Thunderbird Trading Post on US 1 just north of Dania. The Denises and their animals are another story, but I remember their cheetah. In fact, somewhere in my unscanned photos there is a snapshot of me at about four years old, standing beside the gentle, seated cheetah, who was considered a harmless pet. Today my hair stands on end at the thought of putting a little kid next to a wild animal, however tamed. Back then I probably wanted to bring it home. So far we haven’t found a follow-up story about the missing cheetah, and I would assume she was stolen.

FASHION NOTES. July 30, 1943, more fashions from the past.

s-t July 2 '43 adult playsuit skirt over shorts

s-t July 2 ’43 adult playsuit skirt over shorts

This interesting 2-piece garment is a ladies playsuit, It’s not described in the ad, but it appears to be a one-piece shorts-and-top (rather like our high school gym suits), with a matching skirt to button over the shorts. The shorts pictured separately cost $1.00-!.99.


*Joan Mickelson Joseph W. Young and the City Beautiful. McFarland, 2013

**Virginia TenEick History of Hollywood. 1960.

[Author’s note: Although I mention the Hollywood Historical Society, all opinions are my own and don’t reflect on the HHS.]

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  1. Bob Giacin says:

    Hi Joan….very interesting research and background. I remember your mother teaching me at the Hollywood outdoor school on Polk and 23rd avenue.l. You know the coral rock home that was next to the school is where I was born…actually in Hollywood Hospital …delivered by Dr. Mc Laurie…who lived on the north shore of south lake…..will try to attend founders day. Do you remember the apt bldg my parents had at 21st and Hwd blvd…where my office building is….also had a chicken farm there where the local panthers use to come at night and rip open the chicken coups for their dinner….their “home” was on the West side of the Seaboard in a thicket where the Knights of Columbus Hall is. I have pictures of the apt bldg…..regards….Bob Giacin

  2. This was an interesting read, thanks for sharing. Also could you share more information about the establishment of Liberia, I’m a fellow Hollywoodian not from “here or there” in particular, grew up near SBHS not far from Liberia; now that I’m older I’d like to learn about my inhabitants, as I find the economic development in that area to be among the things that give me great wonder. Thanks again.

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