The North Lake Wire Neighborhood is located immediately north of Downtown Lakeland. A neighborhood with a rich history, Lake Wire is the site of one of the earliest settlements in Lakeland. Lake Wire gets its name as the first telegraph line in the state came through Lakeland in 1867 and skirted the edge of Lake Wire. Built by the International Ocean Telegraph Company as part of a New York-to-Havana line, Lakeland's telegraph was the source of envy for many. The road built alongside the telegraph wire became known as "The Wire Road."
North Lake Wire Neighborhood is made up of 174 acres ad bounded by North Florida Avenue on the east, Kathleen Road on the west, West Memorial on the north and Lake Wire Drive/Bay Street on the south. Property in the North Lake Wire Neighborhood was platted for residential development as early as 1901 with more than half of the lots platted by 1911. The remainder was platted by the mid-1920's during the Florida land boom.
North Lake Wire's history doesn't end at the telegraph wire. In 1883, a railroad construction camp was located next to Lake Wire with many of the workers remaining in the area after the railroad was completed. In 1898, during the Spanish-American War, one of four all-black regiments in the regular army, camped on the north shore of Lake Wire while heading to Cuba. These men were given the nickname "Buffalo Soldiers."
The neighborhood has many churches with the New Beulah Missionary Baptist Church, located at the corner of North Ohio Avenue and Quincy Street, being built in 1926. Another historic structure in the neighborhood is now known as Lawton Chiles Middle Academy, located on North Florida Avenue. Originally constructed in the late 1800's, it was the second school build in Lakeland. The one-story red brick school included grades one through 12, and then in 1902 the original Lakeland High School was built on the same site.
In 1927 the school was destroyed by a fire, but rebuilt that same year. The school had many names: Lakeland Junior High School, the Polk Opportunity School, Lakeland Middle Academy and ultimately Lawton Chiles Middle Academy. The building, which was named in honor of the later Governor Lawton Chiles who graduated from the school in 1948, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in September 1993.
The North Lake Wire Neighborhood is part of the Lakeland Community Redevelopment Agency's strategic plan for redeveloping Downtown West.