A Brief History of the Town
In the early 1920’s, two brothers had a vision of creating a community like that of Miami Beach, without all the hustle and bustle of nightlife living. Their dream was not of a large city with hotels and businesses. Instead they pictured a small, quiet community along the coast, devoted entirely to family life close enough to large centers, yet far enough away to insure the peace and quiet of suburban life. They looked around for such a site and finally purchased a strip of beach less than a mile long at the extreme north-eastern end of Miami-Dady County.
The two brothers were R.W. and Henry G. Ralston, and they founded their dream town, now commonly referred to as Golden Beach. The Ralston brothers and their associates of the “Golden Beach Corporation” spent millions of dollars in cleaning out the mangrove swamps, pumping and hauling in fill to build up the swamps, in forming the three islands and the peninsulas between, in building bridges, laying pipe lines, water mains, underground electrical conduits, and in the building of streets.
By 1928, a few houses had been built. These were scattered along the oceanfront, on Center Island and on North Bay Drive near the Center Island Bridge. When it looked as if the Corporation as a company was no longer interested in caring for the development, the property owners themselves decided to take over.
Under the General Laws of the State of Florida, a township wishing to incorporate must have twenty-five registered voters. By stretching the imagination and inviting some individuals to live in Town for a week or so, exactly twenty-five registered voters met at the home of Mr. R.W. Ralston at 8PM on the night of May 19th 1928.
A motion to incorporate was passed unanimously. At this meeting, William A. Mentzer was elected Mayor, and Lorraine G. Smith, Thomas Galvin, Jerome Cherbino, R.W. Ralston, and Henry G. Ralston were elected Councilmembers. Edna S. Jamieson was elected Town Clerk and W.C. Garwood, Town Marshall.
On May 21st, 1928 the Mayor appeared before the Circuit Judge and was sworn in. He then gave the oath of office to the Councilmen and Town Marshall. The southeast room of the residence of R.W. Ralston was designated as the Council Chambers of the town, and the third Tuesday of each month was named for the holding of Town Meetings.
At the Organization Meeting, a temporary Code of Laws and Rules of Procedure were adopted, and the Council was organized into the departments as it is today. The Golden Beach Corporation deeded to the new town all parks and public property, including the water distribution system and electric lines. The town operated under the General Laws for one year and four days.
The Town of Golden Beach was incorporated under its present status, by a special act of the Legislature of the State of Florida in 1929. The act was approved and Golden Beach became a legalized community on May 23rd, 1929.
This act gave the town a charter which outlines in a broad sense the legal rights of the town and its citizens; it sets up in detail the political structure under which the town can operate, and it defines its rights and privileges. It authorizes the creation of a police force and a judicial system and describes their authority.
In conjunction with this original charter, a “Code of Golden Beach” was adopted. This code amplifies the charter giving more detail to the duties and the authority of the town officers. It sets up a code of law, listing and giving allowable punishments for many misdemeanors; and in general, providing a “book of rules” by which the town is governed.
Naturally, as time went on, conditions in a growing community necessitated changes or additions. These are incorporated in a series of Ordinances, passed according to law by the Town Council. The first Town Council Meeting was held on June 20th, 1928 at 3:00PM in the southeast room of R.W. Ralston’s home to discuss the future of the Town following a devastating hurricane.
When originally developed, plots sold for $7,500 for Ocean-Front (to the east) and $2,000 for Ocean Boulevard plots (to the west). This was prior to the development of the interior of Town (Golden Beach Drive and the interior islands).
Once noted in Ripley’s “Believe It or Not” as the Town with the only jail from which you could fish by putting a pole out of the window, Golden Beach is now renowned for its upscale image. The same qualities that once drew families such as the Firestones, DuPonts, and Roosevelts have attracted current celebrities as well as ordinary people who love to live in Golden Beach. The old mangrove swamps are now replaced by stately homes.