The History of Wellington

By
Real Estate Agent with Boca Executive Realty

 

The Village of Wellington, one of the most successfully crafted communities in Palm Beach County, has become the premier South Florida community known for its abundant parks, quality schools, attractive neighborhoods and equestrian interests.

 

In 1951, following the recommendations of Arthur William Glisson (known to all in Wellington as “Bink” Glisson), several tracts of land were assembled and purchased by Mr. Wellington. Charles Oliver Wellington was a very successful accountant and investor from New York. The area he purchased that would become Wellington was frequently flooded with water. That really is not surprising since Wellington’s southwestern boundary is the Florida Everglades. Shortly following the land purchases, the State of Florida passed legislation creating the Acme Drainage District.

 

The initial purpose of the district, created in 1953, was to provide for drainage and flood control on the assembled acreage and make the property suitable for agriculture. This was a huge undertaking as the total size of the tract was over 16,000 acres. This drastically changed the entire landscape, the once waterlogged land soon transformed into fertile farmland. Portions of the land were sold or leased to area farmers for cultivation. Many crops were grown, including strawberries – 2,000 acres to be exact. In fact the area that is known as Wellington was once the world’s largest strawberry patch.

 

Bink Glisson was hired by C.O. Wellington to oversee the property that was soon to become known as the Flying Cow (Charles Oliver Wellington) Ranch. Bink also served as the Acme Drainage District's first employee and general manager. In many respects Bink was the first rock to anchor what was soon (44 years later) to become the Village of Wellington. He served the District in many capacities for 40 years, and retired in 1993 with a big sendoff attended by hundreds of his friends and neighbors.

 

Mr. Wellington was the first Chairman of the Acme Drainage District and served until his death in 1959. Oddly enough it was probably Mr. Wellington's death which led to the decision to develop portions of the property to raise capital to pay for estate taxes. Carrying on as the District Chairman until he retired in 1984 was C.O. Wellington's son, Roger. Major construction did not begin until the first large tract of land, 7,400 acres was sold to the Investment Corporation of Florida (ICOF) in 1971 for a cost of about $800 per acre. In 1972, a joint venture between ICOF and Alcoa Aluminum was formed to begin the construction of a new community. Shortly after construction began, hundreds of homes began selling. In 1976 Alcoa decided to sell their interest back to ICOF. Two years later the remaining properties of ICOF were sold to Gould Florida, a division of the large electronics corporation Gould, Inc. William Yilvisaker, the Chairman of Gould was an avid polo player. It was his contribution that produced the Palm Beach Polo and Country Club.

 

In 1985 Gould sold its remaining acreage to Corepoint, Inc. Corepoint was than succeeded by Lennar Homes. Since that time Lennar has also purchased the remaining 500 lots in Bink's Forest. In another distressed real estate sale, Glenn Straub purchased the Palm Beach Polo and Country Club in 1993.

 

The next step in the evolution of Wellington was probably its most important for the future. After years of trying, a determined group of Wellington residents succeeded in a referendum vote taken in November 1995. The Village of Wellington was officially born on December 31, 1995 (to qualify for certain Florida State funds it was necessary that the Village be chartered in 1995 or millions of dollars in state funds would have been lost). Official operations commenced on March 28, 1996.

 

In 1953, fewer than 100 individuals resided in the area. Today, the Village is an affluent and thriving community. The Village of Wellington offers tremendous diversity: from apartments to estate homes at the Polo Club; from town homes to the Aero Cub where the residents have airplane hangars attached to their homes. The Village of Wellington includes some of the world’s premier equestrian facilities, horse farms, agriculture and nurseries. The primary sources of employment within the Village are construction, agriculture and retail sales.

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