Pearl City Marks 100th Anniversary

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By Dale King The Pineapple Contributing Writer Boca Raton celebrated a couple of significant anniversaries this year, both focused on a small, but historic section of town created in the early 1900s to address the community’s need for farmhands and the desire of African-Americans to purchase their own homes. Pearl City, the first neighborhood in Boca Raton, platted in 1915, marked its 100th anniversary this past summer. The community is situated on the property along the Florida East Coast Railway tracks north of the downtown section of Boca Raton. Created as an area that not only allowed but encouraged African Americans to buy property, Pearl City celebrated its 100th birthday on June 30, with a party in Hughes Park that included food, speakers, a tour of the area and a general sharing of memories. In addition, Macedonia African Methodist Episcopal Church, the oldest house of worship in Boca Raton and one of three historic churches located in Pearl City, recognized 97 years of service to congregants and the community. The church heralded its near-century of serving the faithful with a service on Aug. 7, at Heartland Health Care and Rehabilitation Center on Boca Del Mar Drive. Rosie and Joe Martin, owners of Heartland and of Allegiance Home Health, organized the event to benefit the church. The activity was part of the Greater Boca Raton Chamber of Commerce’s Boca Festival Days. Church administrator Charles Cocklin said the festivities kicked off a fundraiser to renovate Macedonia AME Church and install an air conditioner. He said the house of worship provides “a lot of outreach and educational programs for children.” In addition, the church conducts programs in the evening to give kids something to do after dark to keep them out of trouble. Calling Macedonia AME “a small church with a big heart,” Cocklin said church members conduct ministries at the Habilitation Center in West Boca, and also visit with people in other healthcare facilities. “I read to the blind at the Braille Club in West Palm Beach every Wednesday,” said church goer Laura Albury. “We work with the sick and shut-ins, but mainly with children,” said Cocklin. He and his wife, Kellye, are child advocates and regularly provide care for two neighborhood teenagers, Tyaira and Michaela, both 17. According to Tyaira, she went on vacation with the Cocklins and received “food and advice” from them. “They helped me through some rough spots,” Tyaira said. Michaela has also learned sign language with the Cocklins assistance, so she can communicate with Suzy, her mother, who is deaf. The Cocklins “assist my mother if she needs help with bills,” said Michaela. And the teen can stay with them if her mom needs to rest. Dorothee Overstreet knows a lot about Macedonia AME. She has been a church member for 67 years. As a steward of the church and deaconess for the past eight years, Overstreet is the congregation’s treasurer, a position she has held “under the past four secretaries.” She grew up in Pearl City and now lives in Deerfield Beach. “But I do everything in Boca,” she said. As part of her community service, Dorothee conducts services for residents at a rehabilitation center near Boca Raton Regional Hospital. “Everyone at Macedonia is active in the neighborhood,” says Cocklin. His philosophy is: “If you go through something difficult, you can help others not go through the same thing.” The Boca Raton Historical Society has compiled an online history of Pearl City and its three churches. To find it, visit www.bocahistory.org and click on the Research tab.