Saturday, February 05, 2011

LaBelle Park - Chicago Of The South?

Hall City: Glades Ghost Town - A Land Boom Gone Wrong

LABELLE, FL. -- Advertised by a Chicago minister in the early 1900s, LaBelle Park, and a subdivision called "Hall City" was to be a paradise for Northerners who were persuaded to part with cash, ultimately purchasing thousands of real estate lots in a section of land north of LaBelle.

Glades County Property Appraiser Larry Luckey, a local historian entertained an audience at the Thursday, February 3rd meeting of the Labelle Heritage Museum, talking about the former "boom" town and now "ghost" town of Hall City.

(Click on video to see Larry Luckey reading from 1900s land sales brochure )

Luckey read from a brochure promoting land sales in the 1900s of a remote section of land off current State Road 29. Luckey pointed out all the false claims in the sales brochure, fine land for farming, a port for boats, "Hall University", and a lack of mosquitoes and other pests, among other exaggerations and outright lies.

Hall City was designed as a "temperance" town, no alcohol was to be allowed, and only white "Christians" were to live there, no foreigners, according to the sales brochures.

According to ghost town historian Mike Woodfin, the area of what is now western Glades county, just a mile east of State Road 29, was home to many who bought land there, but the Great Depression halted the growth of the town. "Hall City was developed in the early 1900's by a preacher from Chicago, Dr. George F. Hall. In the early years Hall City boasted as many as 100 residents but by the 1920's the development had been abandoned."

Luckey said in recent years he had relatives of original lot owners, having inherited the lots, calling his office to inquire about the Hall City lots. Luckey explained that there was no access to the land because it is now surrounded by land owned by Lykes Brothers, and although there are still a few private owners, still paying a few dollars a year in real estate taxes, most of the lots were sold off for taxes years ago, and Lykes Brothers now owns most of the remaining lots. along with the thousands of acres surrounding the ghost town.

Luckey said there is still some evidence of the city in the form of curbs and sidewalks, but not much else remains. A railroad was built in the early 1900s and the old right of way still passes through the area continuing on south through Hendry county near Goodno, all the way to Sears Road. The railroad right of way in Hendry now is owned by Hendry County, and leased to an adjoining property owner. Lykes owns the right of way in Glades.

Luckey concluded his presentation by donating a copy of 1910 Hall City promotional material to LaBelle Heritage Museum.  

Seminole historian and educator Willie Johns will be the speaker at the March 3 meeting of LaBelle Heritage Museum at which time the voting members will decide whether or not to suspend the by-laws limiting officers to two successive one-year terms for the April election of officers. 

The LaBelle Heritage Museum holds programs on the first Thursday of each month, September through April, at 7 p.m. at LaBelle City Hall. A short business meeting is held after the presentations and refreshments are served.


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