Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Tales from the Archives: Pearl City Part VI

Curator’s note: Historic Pearl City was originally founded in 1915 south of what is today Glades Road between Dixie and Federal Highways. This is the story of the “northern portion” of Pearl City, north of Glades Road. 

In 1943, during World War II, the Federal Housing Authority constructed two housing projects in Boca Raton, which was terribly overcrowded due to the presence of the Boca Raton Army Air Field. The two “projects,” as they were called, were the Palmetto Park Project (later the Garden Apartments), south of Palmetto Park Road in the vicinity of today’s City Hall for whites, and Dixie Manor Project, on Dixie Highway north of Glades Road, for blacks. The projects were constructed to house civilian employees at the base and the families of some of the servicemen stationed there. Dixie Manor was turned over to the city after the war and was purchased by a private owner. The Project, as the old timers called it, grew very derelict until the city re-acquired it and renovated it circa 1980. Today it is managed by the Boca Raton Housing Authority. 

Lincoln Court, which is the small neighborhood north of Glades Road to the north and east of Dixie Manor, was laid out specifically for black residents in 1945 by local real estate investor Thomas Giles. This was, like Dixie Manor, to accommodate the many new residents brought to town by the airbase. 

Today, the three subdivisions together comprise what modern locals term “Pearl City,” often said synonymously with “Black Community.” The original portion, south of Glades, decided to become one of the city’s two official historic districts in 2000 when faced with the threat of development. Longtime Pearl City residents often speak proudly of their historic community, a true survivor in the heart of Boca Raton. 

Missed the last Tales from the Archives? Check it out here.

Now on display at The Schmidt Boca Raton History Museum…

BLACK PEARLS: The Story of Pearl City, Boca Raton’s Historic Black Community, July 19 to Dec. 15, 2023

The Schmidt Boca Raton History Museum is pleased to announce a new temporary exhibition entitled Black Pearls: The Story of Pearl City, Boca Raton’s Historic Black Community, on display through December 15, 2023. This exhibit features photographs created by artist Reginald Cunningham on loan from the Boca Raton Museum of Art that document the current and past residents of Pearl City, Boca Raton’s historic black community platted in 1915. These images are supplemented with historic maps, photos, documents, and artifacts from the Schmidt’s Pearl City collection as well as items on loan from a Pearl City pioneer family. 

For more information about the Boca Raton Historical Society and Schmidt Boca Raton History Museum, visit their website here.

Susan Gillis
Susan Gillis
Susan Gillis is the curator of the Boca Raton Historical Society and Schmidt Boca Raton History Museum. Her "Tales from the Archives" series is inspired by her work with the Society and Museum, and covers all corners of Boca Raton history.

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