The Sample-McDougald House
By Dan Hobby
Within Broward County, there are only a relatively few structures still standing that predate the Florida Land Boom of the 1920s. The area’s pioneers often constructed small, wooden structures that were located in what are today the downtowns of the cities in the County. With population growth and expansion, these early homes and businesses were replaced by bigger and more modern edifices.
In northern Broward County one such survivor is the Sample-McDougald House. Built in 1916 by Albert Neal Sample, for much of its existence the house sat in splendid isolation between Pompano and Deerfield on Dixie Highway. It was only much later, as residential and commercial development encroached, that the house became endangered.
In 2001, the children of William and Sarah McDougald, who had purchased the house in 1943, donated the structure to the Sample-McDougald House Preservation Society (SMHPS), which then moved it to a four-acre site in Pompano Beach. Over the next decade the non-profit organization undertook a $2.5-million restoration and site development project.
The historic property opened to the public in 2012 and immediately proved to be a popular site for heritage education, community gatherings and private functions. Underscoring this point, the day the Sample-McDougald House opened its doors to the public more than 2,000 individuals showed up.
Currently open for guided house tours on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, the SMHPS is in the process of expanding its offerings with specialized tours for public and private school students as well as other constituencies. Guests learn about the origins and architecture of the house as well as the history of its occupants and the larger community. Since both Mr. Sample and Mr. McDougald were farmers, the role of agriculture in the area’s economic and civic development is highlighted during tours.
The four acres surrounding the historic home, which was designated as Centennial Park by the Pompano Beach City Commission in 2008, are landscaped with native plantings and contain features such as two gazebos, a vegetable garden, a courtyard and a windmill that once pumped water on a Broward County farm. The property has on-site parking, a modern bathroom facility and handicapped access to the house’s first floor.
These features have made the Sample-McDougald House/Centennial Park a popular spot for both public and private functions. Public activities held on the site to date include an exhibit by original Highwaymen artists displaying their iconic Florida landscape paintings, a celebration party marking the 65th anniversary of the Pompano Beach Chamber of Commerce’s founding, a historic Christmas opening and Plants and People Day - a “green” festival, among others.
The Sample-McDougald House has also attracted the interest of private individuals and organizations wishing to have their special events in a unique setting. Several weddings have already been held at the house (including that of William and Sarah McDougald’s granddaughter) as have dinners on the grounds and corporate functions. The unique historic character of the house has led to it being used as a filming location, most recently for the television show The Glades.
The Sample-McDougald House/Centennial Park is an important addition to the cultural sites in Pompano Beach and northern Broward County. The City of Pompano Beach is developing a cultural arts master plan that will evaluate various historical, visual arts and performing venues with the goal of providing greater visibility, use and efficiencies for these sites. The SMHPS is participating in this effort and looks forward to its continuing role in the community as an important historic, cultural and social site.
The Sample-McDougald House is located at 450 NE 10th St., Pompano Beach. Visit its website at www.SampleMcDougaldHouse.com and “like” its Facebook page.