For the Mackle Brothers and their families those were heady days. 

Something exciting was always happening. 

The Florida land boom was on again for the first time since the hay-days of the twenties.  On Wall Street their Florida community development business was the "" of it's day. 


Major national magazines were making the Mackles their feature story. LIFE ran a seven page spread - with a banner on the cover, Newsweek had the Florida Land Boom as a cover story featuring the Mackles. Business Week did a cover story. Fortune Magazine called General Development the  "largest and undoubtedly the most daring land company in Florida"


Television shows including Dave Garroway's Wide Wide World and Omnibus, a major network Sunday show, did live broadcasts featuring the Mackles and their projects. 


There was a company plane for the Mackles, their business associates and the Mackle families. Runways were constructed in each Mackle community so as to shorten the travel time.
Of course everyone got in to the act. I was ten when the first General Development ventures started up and about seventeen when they left General.  I remember LIFE photographers  taking over the house for a day to photograph the family, playing in pro-ams at Port Charlotte and Port St. Lucie, the tension around the New Jersey house when Dad was preparing for his first speech to the New York Security Analysts, and collecting exotic stamps from all over the world as they came in with customer payments and advertising responses.

My first summer job was with General Development as a draftsman in Jim Vensel's Architecture Department.


The Key Biscayne Hotel placed the Mackles it the arena of celebrities from all over and some of them - Jack Paar and his wife Miriam for example - became close friends. Frank Blair and John Cameron Swayze - among others - did promotional work for the Mackles.


It seems like there was a new golf course opening every year. The Mackles were teeing it up with Chi Chi Rodriguez, Chick Harbert and other prominent golf professionals of the day.

 Robert, Frank and Chi Chi


There were speeches to stockholders and to influential business groups.



The Mackle name was being promoted through General's multi million dollar advertising program. In almost any significant magazine could be found an ad promoting the General Development properties strongly emphasizing the Mackles building and development experience.


Local papers were also ready to boast about their South Florida sons.


The Mackle Brother's horse racing success peaked at the same time with two horses - Atoll and Open View - in the 1959 Derby. A private railroad car was leased for the trip to Louisville. All three Mackle families joined in along with several friends. The cover of the Kentucky Derby racing form - the Morning Telegraph - featured a caricature of all of the participants which seemed to feature the Mackles.


On November 14th 1960, newly elected President John F. Kennedy and newly defeated Vice President, Richard Nixon  met in a historic effort at reconciliation after the closest election to date. They chose an ocean front villa at the Mackles Key Biscayne Hotel as the site!
Vice President Richard Nixon And President-elect Jack Kennedy Arrive at The Key Biscayne Hotel


At the end of the year sales representatives from all over would join in for the annual sales convention - a chance to meet the Mackle Brothers in person - and to enjoy the Florida sunshine that they were selling. Early conventions were held at the Mackles fabulous Key Biscayne Hotel.



By 1960 Dad and Mom along with Neil and Ann Bahr were traveling to other parts of the world as new sales offices were established in foreign countries.

Towards the end of the decade Dad was looking to the other parts of the country and to the Bahamas and the Caribbean for new development opportunities.


Weekends at the farm ... June and July in New Jersey and August at the Key Biscayne Hotel and occasional trips on the private plane, a golf tournament once in a while ..... it was a tough childhood!


And there were real accomplishment in addition to the excitement ....

........substance as well as style 

.......steak as well as sizzle.


The Mackles began five new Florida cities. 






Roads were built .... canals were dug ... utility lines were laid ... shopping centers were built ..... golf courses and resorts were designed and developed ....  homes were constructed.


Today the Mackle communities are the home to tens of thousands of families.....working families vacationing families and retired families.....families whose lives are a little better perhaps because the Mackles promised a way for them to enjoy the sun ... the water ... the beaches .... and then delivered on their promise.


In the process the Mackle Brothers led the nation in home building.






House and Home magazine rates The Mackle Company as the 9th largest home builder in the U.S. in 1955. The company started 1774 homes during the year according to House and Home (article in the Miami Herald hand dated February 19, 1956)




Miami Herald article Dec 8, 1957 "... 1956 figure was 2,023 making Mackle Brothers the biggest home builder in the country"



House and Home (February 1959 edition) names The Mackle Company the number one homebuilder in the nation with 2,504 housing starts


I have been unable to find the rankings for 1957, 1959, 1960 or 1961. 

I am confident that they were or were near to the top in 1957.

The rankings include the Mackles housing starts both at General Development projects and at the Mackle Company's own  high volume project at West Wood Lakes. 

By 1959 Westwood was winding down. Generals annual reports show that General sold 904 homes in 1959 and 1252 in 1960. 

Meanwhile land sales were soaring.

In 1961, Dad - concerned with balancing home sales with land sales was emphasizing housing at General and by the 1961 annual meeting home sales were up 25% over 1960. 

In an address to the Florida State Chamber of Commerce Dad predicted they would sell 25,000 homes "within three to four years"!

They built a company. More importantly - they developed an organization and formed close friendships and business relationships that would stand by them for years to come.



The General Development Team
1958 Annual Report





And they did it in the right way.. in a way that their reputation was enhanced.  

During their days at General Development they received special recognition from the Florida State Legislature for their accomplishments.

Frank Mackle Senior laid it down years earlier and his sons - the Mackle Brothers - lived by it....

"Honesty isn't the only policy ...

...but it is the best policy"


So at the start of 1961 the Mackle Brothers were riding high....

They had built a highly successful public company.

The subdivisions of Vero Beach Highlands, Vero Shores, Pompano Beach Highlands, were nearly complete. And the new Florida cities of Port Charlotte Charlotte, Port Malabar, Port St. Lucie,  Sebastian Highlands and Port St. Johns were launched and were growing by leaps and bounds.

But - for the Mackle Brothers - things were about to change.....!