early 1842 the area now known as
Highlands County was set aside
for the Seminole Indians. After
the last Seminole War (1856-58)
the Seminole people retreated
southward into the Everglades.
In 1909 Congress opened these
lands for homesteading and by
1912 there were 75 homesteaders
in the area!
By 1926 the Florida building boom resulted in tourists flocking to the town and businesses sprang up everywhere. In 1927 Dr. Melvil Dewey, creator of the Dewey Decimal System for cataloging library books, arrived in the area. Finding the locale remarkably similar to his native Lake Placid, N.Y. due to the lakes, Dr. Dewey had visions of a resort town as the semitropical branch of the Lake Placid Club in the Adirondack Mountains, which he had formed in 1893. Dewey’s first move was to open a 100 room hotel in mid-town for wealthier tourists and then to build a three hotel complex collectively called the Lake Placid Loj - the spelling the result in Dewey’s simplified spelling approach. The Loj is the present site of the Lake Placid Conference Center. In 1927, at Dewey's urging, the town’s named was changed to Lake Placid by legislative act and has remained so to this day.
With the town thriving as a resort town, there were several large hotels, in addition to Dewey’s. Main Avenue was dressed up with a beautifully landscaped center mall and picturesque stone arches.
In the early 1940s work on Highway 27 was begun, but discontinued when World War II began. It was completed in the early 1950s.
The spontaneous growth that Dewey expected did not occur due to the Great Depression. However, a steady, more reliable growth did. The few hundred people in the area in 1928 has swelled to the present population of several thousand. With its rolling hills, beautiful lakes, and near perfect climate, it is popular for both vacation and retirement. With industry becoming aware of the advantages of climate, location, ample labor, and a steadily increasing southern market, Lake Placid’s future looks very promising!