Frederick E. Bryant, a British agriculturalist, formed Palm Beach Farms Company in Colorado with his brother, Harold J. Bryant, and William Greenwood. They purchased thousands of acres of the Everglades in 1909 and a large tract of coastal land in 1910. As Bryant and Greenwood, of Chicago, the same men marketed the land throughout the U.S. and Canada: five-acre farm tracts for $250 each, $10 down and $10 per month, with a 25x25-foot free lot included on the shores of Lake Worth. A drawing for lots took place in April 1912; by December, after purchasers found it difficult to farm in the wetlands, 308 residents had settled on their townsite lots in what became the City of Lake Worth. [The developers reversed their strategy with Palm Beach Farms Plat 3, from about Okeechobee Boulevard to the Hillsboro Canal and Jog Road to S.R. 7. These western lots were discounted for purchasers of more valuable coastal land.]
The western parcels were effectively abandoned until the real estate boom of the 1920s. Lawrence Carter Swain (1864-1944) accumulated 320 acres to create a community for the working class. He platted half the townsite in 1923, setting aside ten acres for county school and town use. Plat 2, one-half mile west of Military Trail, became the original section of the city. Swain began selling lots in 1925 for $225, with $45 down. By the time the Town of Greenacres City was incorporated in 1926, the population was about 1,250, and Swain moved his family down from Massachusetts. Shortly after, the hurricane of 1926 nearly destroyed the town; after rebuilding, residents endured another hit by the hurricane of 1928.
Courtesy The Palm Beach Post.
Ten months after Swain’s death in 1944, about 125 residents successfully petitioned the Florida Legislature to annul the city charter. When soldiers returned from World War II months later, they fought the decision in court; Greenacres’ rights as a city were reinstated in December 1945 and it was officially reincorporated in 1947. L. C. Swain Middle School and Swain Boulevard are named for its founder.
The City of Greenacres (renamed in 1980) now covers about six square miles, through annexation. For many years the National Arbor Day Foundation has named it a “Tree City USA.” In 2007 and 2008 Greenacres was recognized as one of the “100 Best Communities for Young People” in the U. S. by America’s Promise-The Alliance for Youth.