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The Sample-McDougald House
Pompano Beach, Florida

The Sample-McDougald House, now located at 450 NE 10th Street in Pompano Beach, is one of South Florida's most historic structures, dating from the pioneer era of northern Broward County. The house was built on Dixie Highway, but was recently moved to its current site to insure its preservation.

The Sample family arrived in South Florida soon after the turn of the century. John M. Sample, the first to settle in the Pompano area, had purchased farming land from the Florida East Coast Railway prior to 1910.

Albert Neal Sample, a onetime architect, followed his younger brother John to the Broward County area in 1911 from Chester, South Carolina. He was born in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina on April 16, 1866, the oldest of six children. The house in which he was raised, Latta Place in Hopewell, just outside Charlotte, North Carolina, dated from the late seventeen hundreds and has been listed on the National Register. Neal purchased his brother's land on June 11, 1915, and began building the house in 1916.

Sample built a spacious house located on high elevation, over 22 feet above sea level. Situated on a parcel of land approximately 200' by 250' in depth, the Sample-McDougald home, also known as the Old Sample Estate and Pine Haven, is a seventeen room Georgian Colonial structure constructed by Sample as a replica of a Greenville, South Carolina home he previously owned. Unquestionably one of the most architecturally significant homes in the county, the Sample-McDougald home was surrounded by an eight-acre tract of vacant property to the rear and in a northwesterly direction.

The Sample-McDougald home is built of cypress throughout, features a wide columnar porch that extends in a U-shape around the north side of the house to the rear, and faces busy Dixie Highway. A rambling two-story structure, the house has five bedrooms upstairs, one bedroom downstairs, a reception room, parlor, separate dining room, and kitchen with butler pantry. Its 11-foot ceilings and numerous windows are a good example of pre-air conditioning climate control. The foundation was reinforced with extra brick pillars and because of its superior construction it withstood the devastating hurricanes of 1926 and 1928.

The home served as the base for Sample's farming operations that stretched from Lighthouse Point out west past what is today Powerline Road. Sample funded and constructed a road in 1917 for reaching his cropland. Today that thoroughfare, Sample Road, bears his name.

In the days when Pompano was a farming community and the recently completed Dixie Highway was the only passable highway leading into Miami, the Sample-McDougald home was a stopover for motorists. The home stands as a stately reminder of the promising beginnings for the north-south corridor.

On December 27, 1940, Albert Neal Sample and his wife Maggie deeded the property to their daughter Lois S. Barksdale of Greenville, South Carolina. A former Broward County commissioner, and an avid deer hunter, Albert Neal Sample was seventy-four years old when he died on April 4, 1941.

Sarah Sellers McDougald and William D. McDougald, Sr. had been living with their children in a two-bedroom home in Deerfield when they learned of the availability of the Sample residence from their friend Bill Johnson who saw it advertised in the "Florida State Bulletin". Although they purchased the home on August 14, 1943, Mrs. McDougald who was then acting postmistress of Deerfield could not get a release from her job due to a manpower shortage during the war years. She had to postpone the family's move until May 11, 1944.

William S. McDougald was a World War I veteran who served as a trustee of the Broward County School System, a Deerfield City Commissioner, Deerfield Chief of Police, and Broward County Deputy Sheriff, as well as a farmer. He lived in the house until his death in 1976.

By the time the McDougald family moved into the home, more highways had been built and the Dixie Highway had lost some of its glamour. Mrs. McDougald recalled, "Much to my sorrow there was not much traffic - just a couple cars a day. It was lonely. We often went out on the lawn and waved at engineers and conductors in trains rolling down the Florida East Coast Railway tracks."

Over the decades, the McDougalds watched farmland surrounding their residence transformed into commercial property and the strip once known as the new Dixie Highway become the old Dixie Highway. A founding member of several North Broward historical societies, Mrs. McDougald feared that because of its location the structure was threatened and its future uncertain, and she supported its preservation and inclusion in the National Register. A fifty-year resident of Broward County, she died at age 73 in April 1979.

The McDougald children inherited the house, and in keeping with their mother's desire, placed it on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984. Anxious to see the house preserved for future generations, the McDougalds supported several attempts to preserve it, but logistical and financial complexities could not be overcome.

In 1999 several community volunteers -- Margaret White, Rebecca Maddox, Marvin Buntrock and Margaret McDougald Shadoin - created the Sample-McDougald House Preservation Society, Inc. They sought community support for moving and restoring the historic landmark. Municipal, state and citizens' contributions were solicited and were forthcoming.

During the late evening hours of May 29, 2001, the house was moved off its original site and over the next seven hours moved south on Dixie Highway and then east on NE 10th Street to its new location. Hundreds of people lined the streets to view this once-in-a-lifetime sight.

The move was an expensive and complicated undertaking, made possible only through the support and assistance of many individuals, corporations and government agencies.

The next phase of the project was the actual restoration of the house’s exterior. This included repairing damaged wood siding, restoring masonry features, partial re-roofing, restoring the house’s columns and other architectural features, and painting the structure.

This was followed by work to restore the house’s interior, including new electrical and climate-control systems, refinishing floors, walls, ceilings and woodwork, as well as fixtures.

In the early morning hours of October 25, 2005, Pompano Beach was struck by Hurricane Wilma. At first it appeared that the Sample-McDougald House had been spared the worst of the storm's fury, but upon closer inspection it became apparent that Wilma had caused significant damage to the historic structure: the roof was opened, leading to water damage to walls, ceilings and floors. Wooden awnings were ripped from the house and a number of windows were broken, as was the distinctive leaded-glass fan light above the entry door. Extensive repairs began to "re-restore" the house.

With this finished, the landscaping and site improvements began. This 1.5 million dollar phase created expansive grounds with a park-like ambiance, featuring native trees and vegetation, with adequate space for special events and social functions. Other aspects of this phase were parking, lighting, walkways and restrooms and underground utilities.

In 2008, during the celebration of Pompano Beach's 100th anniversary of incorporation, the city commission passed a resolution designating the Sample-McDougald House grounds as "Centennial Park." In 2010, the commission approved expanding the grounds by about 50 percent, incorporating a former city tree nursery into Centennial Park.

The Sample-McDougald House and Centennial Park opened to the public in 2011, initially for special events and then for public tours. Today the historic house and grounds are a popular venue for heritage education, civic events and private rentals. It is truly the community’s house.

(Updated November, 2014)