Brewster – All About Polk County
The town of Brewster was founded in 1910 to accommodate the workers at the time that spent the day working at the nearby phosphate mine. Operated by American Cyanamid, the mine was located hours away from the nearest town. A town was established at the site of the nearby phosphate mine to accommodate all the workers that would live there. The needs of the town’s people were met, including schools, a movie theater, medical clinic, post office and swimming pool. As segregation was an issue at the time, whites lived in a section of town located south of the mine while blacks lived in a section to the east.
In the 1960s, the company planned to close the mining town and offered its workers a choice; they could buy their houses and move or the house would be demolished. Many decided to buy their houses at low prices and moved to the nearest towns of Ft. Meade, Bartow, and Mulberry. The town was officially closed in 1962 and though much of the town was demolished afterwards, the drying plants, shops, main office, and chemical plant remained. In 1976, a mine was built in Fort Lonesome and the few functioning structures in Brewster were moved there.
The deed to the town of Brewster was turned over to the State of Florida for a partial payment of a judgment that was made against American Cyanamid for the environmental damage it had caused. In 2008, it was found that the company that owned the property, Mosaic Co., a phosphate and potash producer, had fenced in the smokestack and surrounding structures with barbed wire. Sometime later, bulldozers and trucks were sighted in the fenced in area.
A notable resident to the area is John Vincent Atanasoff, the inventor of the digital Computer. Atanasoff was born on on October 4, 1903 in Hamilton, New York. his family later moved to raise him in the town of Brewster. He went on to become quite scholarly, completing his high school education at Mulberry High School in only 2 years.
Today, not much remains of Brewster. Most of the land in the area is owned by Mosaic and has been fenced off. If you look you may catch a glimpse of the few structures that still remain as a testiment to the town that was, although most have been demolished. Brewster is now considered a ghost town and only notes a population of 3.
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