When we drove by in 2022, things looked closed down and the golf course permanently closed. It's is a scenic drive even if they are closed. People live in this peaceful community.
Highland Park, Florida is located on Scenic Highway 17 in rural eastern Polk County, Florida, near Babson Park. The population numbers in the low hundreds, but it is an incorporated community, an actual chartered town.
Highland Park was founded in 1927, and has always been a recreation focused community.
The village is surrounded by an 18-hole golf course designed and built by the well known firm of Stiles & Van Kleek in 1927. It is known today as Lekarica Hills Golf Course.
A Lake Wales businessman, B.K. Bullard, bought 3,000 acres in 1919 that included what is now Highland Park.
Bullard hired Irwin A. Yarnell to promote the community and sell lots. Yarnell produced many ads and brochures that are classics of Florida promotion.
Yarnell built a 25 room mansion in 1923 on a hilltop in Highland Park. It is still there today, and presents a great photo opportunity if you can find a place to stand and take the snapshot either from Scenic Highway 17 or the entrance into Highland Park.
"La Casa de Josephina" was a gift to his wife, Josephine, and it overlooks the entire community. It's architecture is typical of the Florida Boom era of the 1920's, Moorish looking like a Spanish or Italian palace.
The picture above of the Casa was taken in 2007. On a recent visit, I observed that the Casa had been painted a dark brown chocolate color.
Different strokes for different folks.
As of March 15, 2023, La Casa de Josephina is for sale for $1.5 million. It has been on the market more than one year. Here is the listing:La Casa Josephina Realtor Ad
The Village of Highland Park is on the shores of Lake Easy. The lake used to be a favorite destination of weekend sea plane buffs who would fly in and have brunch at Lekarica resort.
Many of the early Highland Park residents were Quakers. They lived in a dormitory, separated into male and female wings.
The dormitory still stands, and is part of the Lekarica Golf and Country Club Resort. The restaurant was not open when I visited on a recent Monday (January 2012), but the original golf course is still played daily by residents and visitors.
The hurricanes in 2004 did a lot of damage to Lekarica, but my recent visit showed that the damage has been repaired. There are plenty of fine vacation cottages on the property and the entire resort is for sale.
Step back in time and enjoy this part of Old Florida. It is a magical feeling to wander around Highland Park.
One of the most significant attractions in Highland Park is the Lekarica Country Club and Golf Course, which has been an integral part of the community for many years.
The course was designed by the renowned golf architect Donald Ross, and it features 18 holes spread across 6,582 yards of lush green fairways and challenging bunkers. The club has a rich history, having hosted several prestigious tournaments over the years, including the 1961 PGA Championship won by Jerry Barber.
However, in recent years, the Lekarica Country Club and Golf Course has faced some challenges. The property was sold in 2014 to a developer who intended to convert it into a residential community.
The sale sparked concerns among golf enthusiasts and residents of Highland Park, who feared that the historic golf course would be lost forever.
Despite these concerns, the developer moved forward with their plans, and the golf course was closed in 2018.
The closure of the Lekarica Country Club and Golf Course was a significant blow to the Highland Park community, as it was a popular gathering spot and a vital part of the town's identity.
However, there is some good news for residents and golf enthusiasts alike.
In 2021, the developer sold the property to a new owner who plans to restore the golf course and bring it back to its former glory.
The new owner has expressed a commitment to preserving the course's historic features while updating it to meet modern standards.
The restoration of the Lekarica Country Club and Golf Course is expected to take several years, but the community is optimistic about the future.
The reopening of the golf course will not only provide a recreational outlet for residents but also attract visitors and boost the local economy.
While the golf course has faced challenges in recent years, the community is optimistic about the future and looks forward to the day when the course will be restored to its former glory.
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By Mike Miller, Copyright 2009-2023
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