THE COMMUNITY KNOWN TODAY as Lake Alfred was first settled as a Military outpost, Fort Cummings, in the United States Territory of Florida in 1839. The Fort was established as one of many through Florida to allow for protection from Indian attacks. Fort Cummings, in 1840, was the site where the Seminole Indian Chief "Wild Cat" at the end of the Second Seminole Indian War, agreed that the tribe would peaceably surrender and relocate to the Indian Territory in the West. Captain Braxton Bragg, who later reached fame as a victorious General in the service of the Confederacy was stationed there as the post adjutant. The Fort closed down in the mid 1840's and the area once again became a remote region of Florida.
In 1887 the Railroad came through connecting Sanford and Tampa, as part of the rail system constructed by William Van Fleet. A lumber mill and turpentine still was constructed and named the Lake Alfred Lumber Company. Armenian workers logged the area, but moved on to log unforested areas around 1907 when the J.C. Cox family came to Lake Alfred and acquired two 40 acre citrus groves. This was the beginning of the Citrus age and the beginning of the growth of the city.
In 1910, Frank C. Gardner of Fargo North Dakota and his partners, Edward Pierce, James Banks, and W.F. Froemke formed the Florida Fruitlands Company and purchased considerable acreage, cleared the pine stumps and planted citrus. The Community underwent an identity crisis through the years having been known as New Armenia, Wahnetta, Bartow Junction, and Chubb. The City was incorporated in 1913 as Fargo, but was changed to Lake Alfred after the lake, in 1915.
Other early pioneers soon followed such as C.F. Chester, J.M. Critchlow, Dr. C.W. Adams, W.H. Shinn, Charles Shinn, Ed McCall and Frank P. Goodman. In 1906 there was a Methodist church which turned into a school during the week. A number of other locations were used until the large two story red brick School was built in 1925. In 1912 Fruitlands President Frank Gardner built the first Presbyterian church. The Lake Alfred Women's Club was formerly created in 1917. In that same year, the MacKay Family of Scotland came to Lake Alfred and built a great estate on the north shore of Lake Rochelle. The home and gardens were designed by Robert Morely, a botanist from England. The MacKay Family hosted many events and cutural activities at the estate, often bringing in harpists, concert pianists and other well known musicians.
In the early 1920's, the Fruitlands Company built a hotel under the direction of Frank P. Goodman, Secretary/Treasurer, and investors came to Lake Alfred by train or car and bought land and the boom began to sprout up. Lake Alfred grew rapidly as stores were built and citrus processing and packing plants began to sprout up. Citrus was the main industry and remained so for many decades afterwards. The University of Florida located the Citrus Experiment Station in Lake Alfred in the 1920's which grew to become respected world wide for its accomplishments on Citrus Research.
During the Great Depression, Lake Alfred suffered as did the rest of the nation. Building stopped and our city shut off the street lights as tax funds were not available. During the Second World War, Lake Alfred residents answered the call to service. Those at home rationed supplies and fuel was often not available. A local bus system was put in place carrying people back and forth from Winter Haven.
In 1946 the Lake Alfred Lions Club was founded and began a long history of service to the community. The City built a new City Hall in 1956 in art Deco architecture which housed all the City's departments except the volunteer Fire Department which was housed in an old wooden building across the street. During the 1950's, 60's and 70's, Lake Alfred experienced properous years and many homes were built. Once the home of Florida Gold, the processing plant was reverted to an Alcohol Distillery which still operates today. In 1972, a new City Public Safety Building was built to house the Library, Police and Fire departments.
On America's Bicentennial, Lake Alfred celebrated in style at Lions Park and fireworks filled the sky. As the city entered the 1990's, Lake Alfred once again experienced periodic growth in our community. Lake Alfred began to see the effects of Orlando's development in our city. Commuter residents became more prevalent and Lake Alfred developed as a popular antique shopping area within Central Florida.
To learn more about Lake Alfred, visit their website at http://www.mylakealfred.com/