Babson Park Celebrates 100 Years

by Sally Morrison

Babson Park’s 100th Anniversary Celebration featured the uniqueness of our “Small is Beautiful” town and showcased the “Parks” in Babson Park from Historic Pillar to Pillar. Longtime Babson Park friends & neighbors gathered to celebrate 100 years of the Babson Park Community Church & Babson Park Elementary School 1921 Building, some traveling from North Carolina, Wyoming, Tampa, and north Florida.

The day began with the recognition of past DCL member Dale Fair’s many contributions to the school, church and community. A young Longleaf Pine, a plaque, and the Dale Fair Community Park were dedicated in his memory. Susie Bell and the “Babson Park Brass” performed in the church gardens. Historic photos and exhibits are still displayed in the church sanctuary. DCL member Steve Morrison led a large group though the unique “ancient island” habitat of the Scrub Plum Trail, a reminder of the special place this Lake Wales Ridge and Crooked Lake provide. The McKinley brothers (who grew up in Babson Park) were thanked for their role in the recent purchase by Green Horizon Land Trust, protecting this six acre public preserve for posterity.

Babson Park Brass. Photo by Cindy Lilly.
Attendees in front of the Babson Park Community Church. Photo by Myra Zilahy.

The afternoon was filled with special activities: the BP Elementary School 1921 building reunion tour was lively with reminiscing by 1950s and 1960s alumni. Prizes were given to the farthest traveled, Mary (Rogers) Yemington, and the oldest alumni (proudly, at eighty), Art Stafford, (one of BP’s pioneer families).

DCL members Jacque Woodward and Patty McKeeman and Sandy Madden were available at the Ridge Audubon Center to show the new lakeside walking trail.

Closing the day’s events at the 90-year-old Babson Park Woman’s Club, was dramatist J. Lenora Bresler. She gave a rousing representation of pioneer Alice Byron who had written an account of first arriving in Babson Park in 1912. Alice’s memories of the next 50 years as Babson Park grew provided insights into the influence of Roger Babson, the development of Webber College and many of its now-demolished historic structures. Those remaining historic buildings now take on more significance, as does Babson Park’s landmark tree, the Longleaf pine, and Outstanding Florida Water, Crooked Lake, as we, the present fortunate settlers around Crooked Lake, look to the future of our town.