When the historic Beacon Hill neighborhood was first platted during the Florida Land Boom of the 1920s, it was marketed to prospective buyers as “out in the country.” At the time, the city of Lakeland was only 4 square miles. Today — in addition to its shady oaks, magnolias, and well-kept homes — a big part of the neighborhood’s appeal is its walkability and proximity to Downtown.
The Historic Beacon Hill neighborhood lies south of Dixieland and west of Lake Hollingsworth. It is bordered by Belvedere Street on the north, Florida Avenue on the east, Beacon Road on the south, and Cherokee Trail on the west. Like the fashionable Boston enclave for which it was named, the charming neighborhood in Lakeland has always tended toward the upper-middle class. Its residents have included many mayors, city commissioners, and state legislators.
Historic Beacon Hill developed out of three subdivisions:
Many homes in the neighborhood were built in the 1920s, however, the collapse of the real estate boom slowed the pace of construction. Development extended sporadically through the 1960s. As a result, Beacon Hill is the city’s most eclectic historic district with at least 14 different architectural styles represented from modest frame vernacular bungalows to stately two-story Colonial and Tudor Revival residences. Many homes were built on double lots.
Residents approached the city's Community & Economic Development Office in 1990 to determine if the neighborhood was eligible for designation as a historic district. Site surveys found that 89 of the approximately 150 structures in the neighborhood were built before 1945, and 79 of them retained a high level of historic integrity. In 1993, Beacon Hill became Lakeland's third neighborhood to achieve historic district designation.
The neighborhood association meets formally twice a year, usually in a resident’s backyard. But Beacon Hill is a friendly community where informal gatherings are commonplace. It recently reactivated its Neighborhood Watch group. Several residents volunteer to read weekly with young children at the nearby Dixieland Elementary School as part of the Reading Pals program. The annual "Holiday Walkabout" is a cherished tradition that goes back decades. There is a private Facebook group for residents. There is also a student-produced Beacon Hill Newspaper that is hand-delivered quarterly to residents' homes.