The Dixieland School, built in 1924
What is now the Dixieland Historic District originated in 1907 when local real estate developers Henry B. Carter and C. W. Deen purchased 160 acres between Lakes Hollingsworth and Morton. They christened their proposed new development Dixieland, apparently because it was the first subdivision in Lakeland to be developed south of the downtown area. By 1910 streets had been laid out and a water system installed. Carter and Deen placed an ad in local newspapers promoting the area as Lakeland's "fashionable suburb" and the "surest, safest investment in Florida."
Although it may not have been the "surest, safest investment in Florida," Dixieland grew steadily over the decades as a mixed residential and commercial neighborhood. Roughly one third (400+) of the private residences in Dixieland were built during "boom" periods in the 1920's and the 1940's. Most of these homes are of the bungalow style of architecture so popular in Florida in the first half of the twentieth century.
After an historic site survey completed in 1993 confirmed the number of structures in the district more than fifty years old, Dixieland was accorded historic district status by the Lakeland City Commission. It also gained listing on the National Register of Historic Places as an historic district. The district, bound by Walnut Street, South Florida Avenue, Lenox Street and Hartsell Avenue, was the fourth neighborhood in Lakeland to be so honored.
The designation as an historic district spurred revitalization efforts in Dixieland through the 1990's. Those efforts continue. In the spring of 2000, the Lakeland City Commission adopted regulations intended to preserve the architectural heritage of Dixieland. The regulations only govern changes to the exterior of structures, but do require property owners to get city approval before renovation or demolition can begin. Similar regulations were adopted for other historic neighborhoods in the city and are credited with acting as a catalyst for the revitalization of those neighborhoods.