What is now the Dixieland Historic District in Lakeland, Florida originated in 1907 when local real estate developers Henry B. Carter and C. W. Deen purchased 160 acres between Lakes Hollingsworth and Morton. They christened their proposed new development Dixieland, apparently because it was the first subdivision in Lakeland to be developed south of the downtown area. By 1910 streets had been laid out and a water system installed. Carter and Deen placed an ad in local newspapers promoting the area as Lakeland's "fashionable suburb" and the "surest, safest investment in Florida."
Although it may not have been the "surest, safest investment in Florida," Dixieland grew steadily over the decades as a mixed residential and commercial neighborhood. Roughly one third (400+) of the private residences in Dixieland were built during "boom" periods in the 1920's and the 1940's. Most of these homes are of the bungalow style of architecture so popular in Florida in the first half of the twentieth century.
After a historic site survey completed in 1993 confirmed the number of structures in the district more than fifty years old, Dixieland was accorded historic district status by the Lakeland City Commission. It also gained listing on the National Register of Historic Places as a historic district. The district, bound by Walnut Street, South Florida Avenue, Lenox Street and Hartsell Avenue, was the fourth neighborhood in Lakeland to be so honored.
The designation as a historic district spurred revitalization efforts in Dixieland through the 1990's. Those efforts continue. In the spring of 2000, the Lakeland City Commission adopted regulations intended to preserve the architectural heritage of Dixieland. The regulations only govern changes to the exterior of structures, but do require property owners to get city approval before renovation or demolition can begin. Similar regulations were adopted for other historic neighborhoods in the city and are credited with acting as a catalyst for the revitalization of those neighborhoods.
The survey was conducted during the summer of 1993 by Historic Property Associates, Inc. under contract to the City of Lakeland. The company produced completed site survey forms for 472 structures in the Dixieland neighborhood which were more than fifty years old and thus eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. It was this survey that played a major role in gaining historic district status for the Dixieland neighborhood.
For each structure in the district that met the criteria, surveyors from Historic Properties completed a site survey form, a pre-printed form on which basic information about each conforming structure was recorded. These forms are reproduced here.