Whitfield-Ballentine Manor “voluntary neighborhood association” has the proud distinction of being one of the oldest such organizations in the State of Florida. Development of Whitfield Estates was originally launched in 1924 during the Florida land boom and was anticipated to become “The Jewel of Florida’s West Coast”. A company led by Louis Broughton Whitfield of Montgomery, Alabama assembled 682 acres of land with a vision to create a town to rival Coral Gables. It included the 218-acre bayfront estate of the late Alfred Ringling. Construction proceeded rapidly in 1925.
The area was incorporated as a city in 1926 with its own mayor and generated a thriving social scene, which included weekly dances among its activities. Around the same time, development of Ballentine Manor Estates commenced, with a focus on marketing large, estate-sized lots. However, construction on both initiatives abruptly ceased in 1927 with the collapse of the land boom.
The real estate market remained at a standstill for the next two decades and did not revive until the late 1940’s with the advent of the post-World War II housing boom. Whitfield Estates was then rapidly reactivated from its pre-war slump.
A voluntary group known as the Whitfield Community Improvement Association was formed, with its membership restricted to persons residing or owning property in Whitfield Estates. In June 1948 this was replaced by Whitfield Estates Association, Inc., now formally organized by Charter as a “Corporation not for profit” under the Laws of the State of Florida.
The Charter for this new Association was both comprehensive and ambitious. For example, it contemplated the performance of scientific research and study, the establishment of a library and participation in social, benevolent and political activities. Whitfield Estates established its own Zoning District in 1949, which existed for over thirty years until 1981. The community grew and developed its own distinctive characteristics, culminating in the formation of the “Whitfield Overlay District” in 1983, to recognize its unique historical importance.