Summerfield Boat Works was a boat yard across from Lauderdale Marine, Broward Marine, and Riverbend on the South Fork of the New River in Fort Lauderdale, Florida from 1930 to 2006. The yard sold in early 2005 and closed down in 2006. I remember this sale well as our brokerage office was at Summerfields. We had just finished renovating the back office when the news came. The property sold during the boom years of the real estate market for $5 million and then again $10 million according to Broward County Property Records. In 2009 Regions bank foreclosed on the New Orleans developer. On September 14 2010, the bank unloaded the property for $1.25 million according to the same Broward Records.
But still the property lies dormant. Everyone I talk to expresses the disappointment with the sale and the current status of Summerfields. “It makes me sick,” says a former yard hand there. If it had turned out financially better for the purchasers, the closure might make more sense. But to tear the yard down and do nothing for five years really is not only heartbreaking but a waste of resources.
The earliest records note a C.R. Breckenridge Boat Yard which was also known as Lauderdale Yacht Basin in 1933. In 1940, the story goes that Henry Summerfield sailed a racing sloop from Toledo, Ohio to New York, and then to Fort Lauderdale where he traded the boat for the Breckenridge Boat Yard. The yard was only a fourth the size of the current 3.5 acre property. The address was 1500 Davie Boulevard as there were only a few dirt streets heading south to the marina. The current address is 1500 SW 17th Street.
During the 1940’s, the yard serviced World War II coastal patrol boats and stored confiscated yachts. In 1950, Summerfield purchased storage sheds from federal government’s WWII surplus facility in Boca Raton, Florida. He damn near built the sheds himself. A railroad line cut through Shady Banks and would bring boats to the marina. During the 1950’s, the Shady Banks neighborhood starting growing up around the boat yard. Gill Construction Co. dredged the two north/south canals and developed waterfront homes along 18th Terrace and 19th Ave. M.A. Hortt, a large land owner, donated property to the Broward School Board. In 1960, Hank Summerfield had a sudden heart attack and died, but the yard stayed family owned. The Bossert Isles south of the school were mostly built in the 1960’s.
In the 1970’s and 1980’s, some drug smugglers reputedly lived in the area. The Hortt School closed in 1985. Personally, I lived aboard a 53′ wood sloop along the canal across from Summerfields. For young liveaboards including my family, this canal was a great location. It was the only zoned liveaboard area on the South Fork, had deep water, fair rates, and was close to the boat yards.
In the 1980’s and 1990’s, Tom Correll was the yard General Manager. Under him were Paul and John. Tom also operated a Summerfield Yacht Brokerage out the main office. A worker at the yard tells how he help set up a network around 1990. “We made a 1 inch conduit and fed a 9 wire data cable through from one end of the yard to the other. John has this crazy idea that the computers at traveller lift office at one end should be able to communicate to the main office computers. It was a ‘network.’ John wrote all the software, and darn if it not work.”
In 1998, our brokerage started renting the Summerfield office. In 1999, John Lee became the yard manager. In 2003, we moved in full time and remolded it with flower beds, tore out the shower, and laid down a composite wood tile floor in the back office. This was all in vain as by 2005, we had to move out because of the new ownership, Greyhawk. They purchased the yard and sought to make it a storage facility for megayachts. Greyhawk rented out 10 of 26 slips before the market went wrong. They sold to a New Orleans developer. In 2009, Regions bank forclosed on the property. It was for sale in 2010 asking $7.5 million before being sold for $1.25 million.
- Interview with Tom Correll (late 2009)
- Interview with Shady Banks residents (March 2010)
- Interview with Kit Denison (April 2010)
- Interview with Preston Larus (April 20, 2010)
- Interview with John Lee (May 2010)
- Interview with Bixby Hill (November 2010)
- “History Shady Banks” by Marty Steinberg, Shady Banks Civic Association
- “Boat yard, homes coexist” by William Hawkins, Waterfront News
- “Boatyard bought as site for yacht club” by Joseph Mann, Sun-Sentinel
- “Starlite Landing” by Sue Peterson, WFN
- Broward County Records years 1935-1965