Cultural Quarterly Magazine Online
History 08-2011
Sample-McDougald House Preserves
Important Piece of Pompano Beach History

By Dave Baber

Early Pompano Beach-area settlers Albert and Maggie Sample (Albert was commonly known by his middle name, Neal) and their five children came to Broward County from South Carolina in 1911. They followed Neal’s younger brother, John M. Sample, who had arrived a few years earlier. By the time that Neal and Maggie had arrived, John Sample had secured a substantial amount of farmland, much of it purchased from the Florida East Coast Railway, and was developing a successful agricultural organization. By 1915, John decided to move out of South Florida, and Neal purchased and took control of his brother’s farming enterprise.

In 1916, Sample constructed his stately home on a 10-acre site along the Florida East Coast Railway tracks on Dixie Highway, the first north/south road constructed to connect to Miami. Despite the fact that Pompano was a rural agricultural community, the house that Sample built was, at the time, one of the largest and most elegant homes in South Florida. Built in the colonial revival style, it has an asymmetrical design with a shallow hip roof. The most prominent feature of the house is a deep front porch that wraps around the right side of the house and terminates on the west side into a porte-cochere. The porch features Tuscan columns that support a flat roof with a simple balustrade around its perimeter. The awnings over the windows, added in the late 1940s, are another interesting feature. They are constructed of wood slats and fold down to provide storm protection.

Sample’s agricultural land holdings stretched from Lighthouse Point west to beyond what is today Powerline Road. In 1917, Sample built the road that bears his name in order to access his vast agricultural operations. Sample died on April 4, 1941. Less than four months prior to his death, Neal and Maggie Sample deeded the house to their daughter, Lois Barksdale.

On August 14, 1943, William and Sarah McDougald purchased the home from Barksdale and moved into it in 1944. The McDougalds had been living in a two bedroom house in Deerfield and desperately needed a larger home in which to raise their seven children. Like Sample, William McDougald was a farmer. He was also actively involved in the community. He was a Deerfield city commissioner, Deerfield police chief, a trustee for the Broward County Board of Public Instruction, a Broward County deputy sheriff and a Broward County constable. Sarah McDougald attended Winthrop College in South Carolina and Appalachian State Teachers College in North Carolina. She became an accomplished composer, publishing several well-known songs. Sarah McDougald’s civic activities included being president of both the Deerfield Beach Woman’s Club and the Deerfield Beach Elementary School Parent-Teacher Association.

As time went on, Dixie Highway became developed as an automobile-oriented commercial corridor, which left the Sample-McDougald House increasingly out of place. Sarah McDougald became concerned over the future of her beloved home and expressed the wish that it be listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Upon Sarah’s death in 1979, her children honored their mother’s desire and in 1984 the Sample-McDougald House was officially listed on the National Register. For the next 15 years, the family worked with the community on several proposals to save and preserve the building on its site but the increasing incompatibility of Dixie Highway resulted in failure each time.

In 1999, a dedicated group of community volunteers created the Sample-McDougald House Preservation Society, whose specific mission was and still is the relocation and restoration of this important and iconic landmark building. After two years, the dream was realized when, on May 29, 2001, the Sample-McDougald House moved from Dixie Highway to its new location on NE 10th Street. The hard work of this dedicated group has continued over the last 10 years. By partnering with the City of Pompano Beach, Broward County through its Cultural Division, Historical Commission, local businesses and many individuals, the Sample-McDougald House has been restored and its site has been transformed into a beautiful park, officially designated in 2008 as Centennial Park to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Pompano Beach's incorporation.  Additionally, Commissioner Kristin Jacobs allocated $250,000 of her commission discretionary funds to assist in the funding of the gazebo, pavers and landscaping.

The Sample-McDougald House will be opening this fall as a museum that will interpret the history of the house, its residents and the community.  More information on the Sample-McDougald House is available at www.samplemcdougaldhouse.com.

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