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Boynton and Boynton Beach

Nathan Boynton founder of Boynton Beach

Nathan Boynton founder of
Boynton Beach.

In 1894 Major Nathan Smith Boynton and Congressman William S. Linton from Michigan hired Frederick C. Voss to show them the Lake Worth area in his motorized launch, the Victor. The captain invited his wife, Lily Pierce Voss, to go along, and they stopped at Bassett’s Hotel in Lantana for lunch before looking at land further south. 

Major Boynton, who Lily Voss called ”a rough Army man,” bought 400 acres, including a mile of oceanfront, where he built the wooden Boynton Beach Hotel to serve as his family's summer home. The project brought carpenters, truck farmers, and railroad workers to the area. Hotel guests were delivered from the train depot in a horse-drawn surrey along palm-lined Ocean Avenue, though still a dirt road.

In the fall of 1895, Major Boynton sent for Horace Bentley Murray who later remembered:

When I arrived there were a few tents and one or two small houses. I took charge of the construction of the hotel. … The East Coast Canal was opened in 1895, providing transportation with Lake Worth and the North. George O. Butler and Franklin Sheen surveyed the farmlands and the townsite of Boynton. …Major Boynton set orange and grapefruit groves on the east side of the canal about the time he finished the hotel.

Major Boynton formed the Michigan Home Colonization with Linton, who promoted the area to the south that is now Delray Beach. Soon Boynton’s “colony” flourished with pineapple plantations, tomato fields, and citrus groves. Earlier arrivals, such as African American farmers Alonzo King and Samuel Cade, taught the new settlers how to cultivate the local muck and deal with the local “wildlife” of rattlesnakes and mosquitoes. 

A shipment of tomatoes at the FEC Railroad depot awaits pick-up by the train

A shipment of tomatoes at the FEC Railroad
depot awaits pick-up by the train.

The Florida East Coast Railway reached Boynton in 1896. A separate express train ran during the shipping season to help produce arrive at the northern markets before it spoiled. Also in 1896, the Boynton Post Office was established.

By 1900 eighty-three people lived in the town; residents built a wooden one-room schoolhouse for grades 1-9 at the western edge of town, now Ocean Avenue and Seacrest Boulevard. The Norwegian ship Coquimbo ran aground off Boynton in 1909 with a cargo of lumber, which was auctioned off to settlers and used to

build many of the town’s early houses. In 1911 the first bridge over the East Coast Canal (now part of the Intracoastal Waterway) connected Ocean Avenue to the beach. 

The Boynton Beach Women’s Club, opened in 1926

The Boynton Beach Women’s Club, opened
in 1926.

In the early 1920s, the town was wired for electric, and the first water treatment plant was built, preparing Boynton for rapid change during the real estate boom. The Boynton Beach Hotel was torn down, and Addison Mizner designed the Woman’s Club building that is still in use today and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. 

Due to a tax dispute, in 1931 the owners of the oceanfront land separated as the Town of Boynton Beach; they changed the name to Ocean Ridge in 1939. The Town of Boynton retained ownership of the Municipal Casino on the present Boynton Beach municipal beach; the casino, a meeting place with bathhouses, was razed in 1967.

In 1941 Boynton changed its name to Boynton Beach.

Important Events (provided by Boynton Beach City Library)

The Boynton Beach Hotel constructed by Nathan Boynton in the late 1890s

The Boynton Beach Hotel constructed by
Nathan Boynton in the late 1890s.

1897 Major Nathan Boynton’s beachfront hotel opens 


1911 First Bridge is built over canal

1913 Boynton Elementary School opens

1920 Boynton incorporated

1926 Seaboard Railroad comes through town

           South Palm Beach (Boynton) Inlet opens

           New Woman’s Club built by Addison Mizner opens

           Boynton High School opens

1931 Boynton and Boynton Beach become separate municipalities

1939 Boynton Beach changed its name to Ocean Ridge

1941 Boynton changed its name to Boynton Beach

The Boynton Beach Schoolhouse, 1913

The Boynton Beach Schoolhouse, 1913.







The Seaboard Air Line railroad Station, ca. 1940s

The Seaboard Air Line railroad Station,
ca. 1940s.







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