1923 was a pivotal year for Fort Pierce and we’re happy to celebrate a few centennials.
It was that year that the City of Fort Pierce formed its own police department, hiring a chief and five officers. As Mayor Linda Hudson told Ellen Gillette in Centennial Salute beginning on page 32, “As the force grew over the century in numbers and expertise, the Fort Pierce Police Department aspires to the highest standard of professionalism and excellence. I couldn’t be more proud.’’
1923 was also the year many trace the start of Lincoln Park Academy, one of the first high schools for black students in Florida. As Bernie Woodall writes in The Best of the Best beginning on Page 22, it was that year that James Espy of Sandersville, Georgia, was hired to lead a junior high school with five ninth graders. Seeking to make the school a full four-year high school, black parents raised money and successfully lobbied the school superintendent to expand the school, which was named Lincoln Park Academy a year after opening.
1923 was also the year manufacturing executive R.N. “Pop” Koblegard, a winter resident since 1906, opened the magnificent Sunrise Theatre in downtown Fort Pierce. It was touted as Florida’s largest theater between Jacksonville and Miami, and with 1,300 seats could almost accommodate the entire population of Fort Pierce which was barely more than 2,000 people in 1923.
1923 was also the year a young lawyer named Alto Lee Adams arrived in Fort Pierce to open a law practice. He’d later go on to the Florida Supreme Court and to found Adams Ranch, still operated today by his descendants.
Of course, I’m partial to 1923. That’s the year my grandfather, E.R. “Putz” Enns, and his two uncles, Paul and Nick Enns, arrived in Fort Pierce from Kansas to plant an orange grove and begin the Maravilla subdivision. Paul and Nick later purchased the Fort Pierce News-Tribune and Paul ran it for 30 years.
Whether you and your family have been here one year or 100 years, let’s all join in celebrating this great city.
Reach Gregory Enns or 772.940.9005.
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