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Boca Raton home built in 1921 faces uncertain future

Fountain House is oldest home left in Pearl City historic district
Posted at 8:03 PM, Feb 27, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-27 21:24:04-05

BOCA RATON, Fla. — A house located at 156 Pearl St. in Boca Raton is not like any of the others.

It sits quiet, but its years of history speak volumes as one of the original homes built in Pearl City, a tiny pocket inside present-day Boca Raton.

"I think it's extremely important because of the legacy of Pearl City," Doris Demery Hester said.

Hester was born and raised in Pearl City.

"This is the only area that Blacks only, Blacks only could purchase property," Hester said. "We couldn't purchase property anywhere else. And the only reason they allowed us to purchase this property is because of labor."

Doris Demery Hester explains why saving the Fountain House is important for the city of Boca Raton.
Doris Demery Hester explains why saving the Fountain House is important for the city of Boca Raton.

The now-endangered home was built in 1921 and is fondly referred to as the Fountain House after the family that owns it. Today, more than 100 years later, the community is fighting to keep it standing.

"I think it's extremely important for us to not forget it," Hester added.

Current owners of the Fountain House are caught between a rock and a hard place.

The house needs some tendering loving care but that would cost way more than it's worth now. The only alternative is pricey: moving it to another location or demolishing it and saying goodbye to a piece of Pearl City history.

"I understand that she wants something different, but it would be sad to see it go because with all the other houses or torn down it was sad to see them go as well," Stevette Richardson, a lifelong Pearl City resident, said.

Houses like Hester's is located just across the street from the Fountain House and said her family was in a similar situation when they decided to rebuild in 2015.

"It hurts," Hester said. "It hurts because I grew up on this property, so when they were ready to demolish it, my sister sent me all the pictures as they were taking down the house."

According to the Boca Raton Historical Society, there needs to be a place for the house to go before they can start raising funds, and they're open to suggestions.

"I would like to see someone come in and move this house to one of the vacant lands that's left in Pearl City," Hester said. "I don't want it to leave Pearl City. I either want it to be put on Macedonia AME Church's property or Ebenezer Baptist Church. Macedonia is the oldest church in the city of Boca Raton."

Like the other staples in Pearl City, many are hoping the home that is now the last of its kind will stand the testament of time.