Esperanza Heights Records
Manuscripts Collection
Louisiana Division
New Orleans Public Library

MS-140

Harry W. Fitzpatrick and Co. (New Orleans, La.)
      Records relating to lands in Esperanza Heights, Florida, 1923- 1930
      3 in. (10 folders)


Real estate and auction company, established ca. 1924, formerly Fitzpatrick and Till, which had been one of the largest such firms in the country. Fitzpatrick had long specialized in the sale of subdivisions and had played a key role in the development of farming in Southern Louisiana and the Gulf Coast region. In 1926 the company entered an agreement with W.H. Whidden and Co., a real estate firm in Arcadia, Florida, to sell lands located in Esperanza Heights (DeSoto County), Florida, in the New Orleans area. This was accomplished at massive auctions held at the Athenaeum in New Orleans during March, 1926. Shortly thereafter it became apparent that Whidden's claim to the property was questionable as New Orleans purchasers were unable to obtain clear title to their lots. At least one suit was filed against Fitzpatrick & Co. and its representatives by a purchaser (Mrs. Sallie Carter). On September 16, 1926, Harry Fitzpatrick committed suicide at least in part due to "financial reversals" following a nervous breakdown. It is uncertain what role, if any, the Esperanza Heights business played in his demise.

The records include correspondence, photographs, advertising materials, legal briefs, maps, and other materials relating to the agreement between Fitzpatrick & Co. and the Whidden firm, the marketability of titles to and the physical condition of the Esperanza Heights properties, and the legal proceedings against Fitzpatrick & Co., et. al. They provide interesting details on an episode late in the period of the Florida land boom in the area outside of Miami.

The records were originally introduced as evidence in, and were subsequently separated from, the suit record in the matter of Mrs. Sallie Ingram, wife of Zeb Carter vs. Canal Bank & Trust Co., et. al., #169,267, Civil District Court (#11,878, Orleans Parish Court of Appeals).

Folder Inventory

  1. Index to the records as originally introduced as evidence in the trial.

  2. Correspondence: Letters of introduction for the Whidden Co. from business and government leaders in Arcadia, Florida; letters and telegrams describing the property and relating to the question of the validity of titles to the lands in question.

  3. Legal briefs prepared by and printed for the attorneys representing parties to the suit.

  4. Esperanza Heights advertising brochures (2 copies) and the printer's dummy of same.

  5. Other DeSoto County advertising materials.

  6. Broadsides/newspaper advertisements of the Fitzpatrick & Co. auction [see also advertisements appearing in the New Orleans Times-Picayune and the New Orleans Item in the days prior to the auction].

  7. Maps: plat of Esperanza Heights (by W.H. Butler) printed for and distributed at the Fitzpatrick & Co. Auction.

  8. Photographs of construction and other activities in the area of Esperanza Heights.

  9. Photograph of Whidden presenting deed to Mayor Arthur J. O'Keefe; Fitzpatrick and others present.

  10. Other documents, including sample deeds (2), blank deed, note, and receipt forms, free drawing certificate, and a copy of the Whidden-Fitzpatrick agreement.

NOTE: Some of the documents are in poor condition, with edges crumbling, ink running, etc., but all are legible. The photographs are in particularly bad condition, those in folder #8 are folded and cracking along the folds, the one in folder #9 is torn into several pieces.


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