Clarence Henry Geist
Courtesy Boca Raton
Geist was an investor in Mizner Development Corporation, which Addison Mizner formed to develop land in Boca Raton. When it entered bankruptcy in 1927, Geist purchased its assets and debt with an anonymous bid of $71,500. Included were the lavish new Cloister Inn, fifty houses, and 15,000 acres of land. The mortgages and other debt increased Geist’s net cost for the property to about $7 million. He spent another million to enlarge and transform the 100-room Cloister Inn into the private, 450-room Boca Raton Club, which opened in 1930.
Geist financed a modern water treatment plant for Boca Raton. He paid for an elegant railroad depot and for dredging of the Boca Raton Inlet so club members could bring their yachts. He prepared a speech that he never delivered to the citizens of Boca Raton, urging them to “get rid of the mosquito! You are not going to make any money in this community except through people coming here in the winter,” he wrote. “Get their money while they are here and you won’t have to do a lot of work throughout the hot weather of the summer.”