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Lake Clarke Shores

A map showing Lake Clarke

A map showing Lake Clarke.

John Newton Clarke (1867-1943) arrived on Lake Worth in 1889; he worked at Hendrickson’s general store as a grocer and as postmaster of the Lake Worth Post Office, and eventually at the Royal Poinciana Hotel. Meanwhile, in 1897 Clarke filed a homestead for 139 acres east of a lake located west of West Palm Beach, where he planted pineapples and built a packinghouse to process the fruit for shipping. By 1915, the pineapple industry had ended; Clarke used his homestead as a fishing getaway. Clarke and his family never lived at the lake, which he called Lake Clarke.

When the West Palm Beach (C-51) Canal was completed from Lake Okeechobee to the Atlantic Ocean in 1917, the water level of Lake Clarke dropped dramatically. The lake that had stretched from State Road 84 (now Southern Boulevard) into the city of Lake Worth became a marsh.

The first residents in the area were Zebulon Vance Hooker (1891-1966) and his family, who farmed near the southeast end of Lake Clarke in the early 1930s; the Patrick family planted a mango grove at the north end in 1936. Francis C. McKenzie and Roy Dilling bought out the Patricks; in 1946 they marketed the land as Florida Mango Grovelets and sold a few lots, mostly for recreational use.

Palm Beach County Commissioner Lake Lytal

Palm Beach County Commissioner
Lake Lytal.

West Palm Beach attorney William Travers convinced the State of Florida to sell him—for $100 to $300 per acre—land that had been exposed when the level of Lake Clarke fell in 1917. Travers dredged and reshaped the lake and started selling lots in 1949. Sales were slow until Palm Beach County Commissioner Lake Lytal helped to get a bridge built across the canal. By 1956 there were 150 registered voters, including Lake Lytal, living on Lake Clarke. Afraid of being annexed into West Palm Beach, the property owners formed the Town of Lake Clarke Shores, which was incorporated in 1957, east of Florida Mango Road and west of today’s I-95.

 

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