Wellington, one of the most successfully crafted communities in Palm Beach County, is the premier South Florida community known for its abundant parks, quality schools, attractive neighborhoods and equestrian interests.
In 1951, following the recommendations of Arthur William Glisson (known to all in Wellington as "Bink" Glisson), Charles Oliver Wellington assembled and purchased several tracts of land that would later become known as Wellington. Mr. Wellington was a very successful accountant and investor from New York. The area he purchased frequently flooded with water. That really is not surprising because Wellington's southwestern boundary is the Florida Everglades. Shortly following the land purchases, the State of Florida passed legislation creating the Acme Drainage District.
The initial purpose of the District, created in 1953, was to provide for drainage and flood control on the assembled acreage and to make the property suitable for agriculture. This was a huge undertaking as the total size of the tract was over 16,000 acres. This drastically transformed the landscape from waterlogged land to fertile farmland. Portions of the land were sold or leased to farmers for cultivation. Many crops were grown, including strawberries – 2,000 acres to be exact. In fact, the area that is known as Wellington was once the world’s largest strawberry patch.
Bink Glisson was hired by Charles Oliver Wellington to oversee the property that was soon to become known as the Flying Cow (Charles Oliver Wellington) Ranch. Bink also served as the Acme Drainage District's first employee and general manager. In many respects, Bink was the first rock to anchor what was soon (44 years later) to become Wellington. He served the District in many capacities for 40 years and retired in 1993 with a big sendoff attended by hundreds of his friends and neighbors.
Mr. Wellington was the first Chairman of the Acme Drainage District and served until his death in 1959. Oddly enough, it was probably Mr. Wellington's death which led to the decision to develop portions of the property to raise capital to pay for estate taxes. Wellington's son, Roger Wellington, carried on as the District Chairman until he retired in 1984. Major construction did not begin until the first large tract of land, 7,400 acres, was sold to the Investment Corporation of Florida (ICOF) in 1971 for a cost of approximately $800 per acre. In 1972, a joint venture between ICOF and Alcoa Aluminum was formed to begin the construction of a new community. Shortly after construction began, hundreds of homes began selling. In 1976, Alcoa decided to sell their interest back to ICOF. Two years later, the remaining properties of ICOF were sold to Gould Florida, a division of the large electronics corporation Gould, Inc. William Yilvisaker, the Chairman of Gould, was an avid polo player. It was his contribution that produced the Palm Beach Polo and Country Club.
In 1985, Gould sold its remaining acreage to Corepoint, Inc. Corepoint was than succeeded by Lennar Homes.
Since that time, Lennar also purchased the remaining 500 lots in Bink's Forest.In another distressed
real estate sale, Glenn Straub purchased the Palm Beach Polo and Country Club in 1993.
The next step in the evolution of Wellington was probably its most important for the future. In November 1995, a determined group of Wellington residents succeeded in a referendum to establish Wellington as an independent municipality. Wellington was officially born on December 31, 1995 (to qualify for certain Florida State funds it was necessary that the Village be chartered in 1995 or millions of dollars in State funds would have been lost). Official operations commenced on March 28, 1996. The first five elected officials took office on this date. They were Kathy Foster, Carmine Priore, Paul Adams, Thomas Wenham, and Mike McDonough. Kathy Foster was elected the first Mayor by her fellow Councilmen, and Carmine Priore was elected Vice Mayor (the Mayor and Vice Mayor positions were voted upon by the five Council members, not the electorate). In April of 1998, Wellington held its second election for Village Council. Thomas Wenham was reelected unopposed, and Mike McDonough was replaced by Al Paglia. At the end of April, the Village Council elected Carmine Priore as Mayor, and Paul Adams as Vice Mayor. Click here to see all of Wellington’s past Council members.
In 2002, Wellington residents voted to elect the Mayor versus having the electorate method continue. The Council now consists of Mayor Anne Gerwig, and Vice Mayor John T. McGovern, and council members Michael J. Napoleone, Michael Drahos, and Tanya Siskind. Although the Mayor is now elected by the residents, all five council members have the same amount of authority.
In 1953, fewer than 100 individuals resided in the area. Today, Wellington is an affluent and thriving community. Listed by Money Magazine as one of the top 100 places to live, the Village shares the convenience of both urban living as well as easy access to breathtaking natural areas, preserves, and numerous outdoor activities. Wellington is internationally recognized as the Winter Equestrian Capital of the world and is an Internal Equestrian destination for Show Jumping, Dressage, and Polo.
A destination for all things equestrian, Wellington is the home of the International Polo Club Palm Beach and the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center.
Wellington boasts plenty of hometown charm with an abundance of parks, quality schools, attractive neighborhoods, and activities for people of all ages. Wellington maintains a high reputation, with eleven Palm Beach County A-rated schools, some offering specialty magnet programs. The Village also works closely with the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office and Palm Beach County Fire Rescue to maintain the highest level of safety and services for its residents.