After the 1850s, Dunlawton's days as a serious sugar venture were through. John Marshall moved away, tried to rid himself of the Florida plantation, and finally snared a buyer in 1871. His successors included Charles Dougherty (a noted lawyer-politician but no farmer); Henry Flagler (who bought a corridor for his coastal rail line); and J. Saxton Lloyd (a prominent businessman who helped create an early theme park, then gave the lands to Volusia County in 1963).
In short, Dunlawton had a second life. As local people and tourists explored East Florida after the Civil War, they found mysterious ruins nestled in the cattle lands and orange groves. Early postcards, photos, and travel writings pictured Dunlawton as worth seeing - but they also botched its story. By popular acclaim, this place became the site of an "Old Spanish Sugar Mill."
Fun and fantasy soon defined Dunlawton. After World War II, paying visitors could stop by the "Lost Mission and Olde English Sugar Mill," complete with gardens that gave rise to a botanical park. Girls in beachwear posed for state tourism photos. And for years people enjoyed Bongoland, with its concrete dinosaurs, miniature train, and resident baboon named Bongo. It was a long way from the hard work of frontier sugar making.
[ Postcards ]
Early postcard views of Dunlawton: a pre-World War I scene (printed in Germany) and a 1920s photo with "Spanish" models. Though publishers got its story wrong, the site appeared in many twentieth-century picture cards.
[ Brochure cover; Photo ]
After World War II, Dunlawton became a fun, romantic tourist site. Promoters advertised a Franciscan mission (later occupied by "enterprising English colonists"), and photographers used the ruins as a scenic backdrop.
[ Brochure cover; Illustration ]
Bongoland, with its famous "monkey host." Among other things, this family park featured a Seminole Indian Village and "re-created strange prehistoric monsters."
Model-and-ruins photo (1946) by the State Department of Commerce, courtesy of the Florida Photographic Collection/State Archives.
Postcards and brochures courtesy of Tom Baskett, Jr.