City History

 

Fruitland Park predates the Civil War, although the name of the town didn't come until later. The earliest settler was M. Calvin Lee, of the Evander Lee family of Leesburg, who planted a citrus grove. After the war, a son-in-law of the Lee family, P.S. Bouknight, homesteaded 40 acres near Mirror Lake.

Horticulturist Major Orlando P. Rooks and his wife built their first home on Crystal Lake in 1877. It was here that the first child, Frederic Rooks was born in 1882. The Fruitland Nurseries of Augusta, Georgia, was owned by J. P. Berckmann,friend of Major Rook. Major Rook named the town Fruitland Park for the nurseries, and the main street Berckmann Street for this friend.

The Postal authorities refused to recognize the name Fruitland Park as there was already a Fruitland in the State. At their request the name was changed to Gardenia in 1884. A railroad, put through the town just prior to this, had listed the town as Fruitland Park in all their printed matter and refused to recognize the new name of Gardenia. Consequently, all freight and express had to be directed to Fruitland Park and all mail addressed to Gardenia. This caused a great deal of confusion which lasted from 1884 to 1888 when a petition was sent to the postal authorities to have the name changed back to Fruitland Park. The petition was granted in 1888.

The City of Fruitland Park was granted a Charter by the State of Florida on May 25, 1927.


Excerpt from "The HISTORY OF FRUITLAND PARK Florida" published by the FRUITLAND PARK CHAMBER OF COMMERCE.
Used by permission. Original edition available at the Fruitland Park Library.