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Vanderbilt estate in Manalapan

An Oceanside view of the Vanderbilt
estate in Manalapan.

When George H. K. Charter (1846-1892) came to Lake Worth in 1882, he homesteaded 126 acres along two and a half miles of ocean ridge in present Manalapan. Charter planted a cocoanut grove and built a house from items scavenged on the beach, which he called “Buzzards Roost.” In 1887 he became the mail contractor for what is known as the Barefoot Mailman route.

 Charter sold his property in 1891 for $7,500 to Elnathan T. “Nathan” Field (1839-1919) from New Jersey, whose Hypoluxo Beach Company built a 2½-story inn on stilts on the ridge in 1894; it was named Manalapan Cottage after a New Jersey tribe of Indians. Two years later, Field filed a plat for Hypoluxo Beach and started selling lots.

The Hypoluxo Beach Company deeded the land to Field in 1903-04. In 1912 Field sold it to Samuel Goodwin, and Goodwin sold it to Leila and A. Romeyn Pierson for $40,000; they called the property Manalapan Estates.

The Florida Legislature created the South Lake Worth Inlet District in 1915 to connect the south end of the lake to the Atlantic Ocean, primarily to improve water quality. The site, chosen for its narrowness, required condemnation of land at the south end of the Pierson property; the South Lake Worth (Boynton) Inlet was completed there in 1927. The Piersons left the property to their granddaughter, Nancy Tilton, who sold it off gradually; a developer razed the house in 2000.

Commodore Harold Vanderbilt, seated second from left.

Commodore Harold Vanderbilt, seated
second from left.

In 1930 Commodore Harold Stirling Vanderbilt (1884-1970) left Palm Beach, because the town wouldn’t abandon the property between his house and the beach after the 1928 hurricane. He purchased 500 feet of oceanfront east of Hypoluxo Island, where he built a magnificent house, Eastover, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Vanderbilt chartered the Town of Manalapan, which he incorporated the following year. His sister, Consuelo Vanderbilt Balsan (1877-1964), and her husband purchased a 35-acre estate at the south end of Hypoluxo Island, then owned by John Martin Demarest and now known as Point Manalapan.

The Town of Manalapan includes two land areas: from the Lantana public beach to the South Lake Worth (Boynton) Inlet, and the southern one-third of Hypoluxo Island; they are separated by the water of Lake Worth between the barrier island and Hypoluxo Island. Limited commercial property remains on A1A, including the Ritz-Carlton hotel built in 1990

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