Wildflower Preserve History

Historical records show that in the first half of the 20th century, much of the Cape Haze peninsula was heavily forested and that wide-spread clear-cutting removed many of the trees.  We don’t know if that was the case for the land that is now Wildflower Preserve, but it is a good guess.

Old timers say that there was a time when fisherman took their boats up Lemon Creek all the way to Lemon Lake (now part of Amberjack Environmental Park), but by 1951, aerial photos show that the Placida Road bridge over Lemon Creek would most likely have limited passage of all but very small boats.

Studying aerial photos from 1951 and 1970, before residential development began, it appears that the property was primarily being used for livestock grazing.  The tidal waters of Lemon Creek are visible in the photos and there appear to be wetland areas running through the center of what would become the golf course property.

In the early 1970s, a development group began developing the golf course and all the surrounding neighborhoods as part of a large planned development community.  Wildflower Golf Course opened around 1974. 

The 18-hole executive golf course operated from the early 1970s to 2006.  At that time, the owner began efforts to sell the property and a development firm from Miami proposed to convert the land to condominiums.  Many in the local area were opposed to development of the property.  Research proved that some density units claimed for the property were no longer available. When the real estate market crashed, the property was listed for $2 million (down from an initial possible sales price of $8 million).  After extensive negotiations, Lemon Bay Conservancy signed a $750,000 purchase agreement for the property in the summer of 2010, with three months to raise the necessary funds.

Through a generous bequest from Verna Rogers’ estate and contributions from WF neighbors and supporters throughout the community, $500,000 was quickly raised.  A local philanthropist stepped in to loan LBC $250,000 to close the purchase in September 2010.  Fundraising continued, and that loan was paid off in September 2011.