The Dream City of Mr. J.W. White
Many people ask “Is there really a place called Intercession City?” You will not readily find it on the map but if you zoom down far enough you will find this small community between Old Tampa Highway and Orange Blossom Trail about seven miles southwest of Kissimmee, Florida and twelve miles southeast of Disney World. It was not always called Intercession City, nor was it always small. The original dream was that of Mr. J.W. White, a millionaire promoter from the north who started building his dream city called “Interocean City” in 1923. Named Interocean for its location of half way between the Atlantic and Gulf waters, it was a massive project that included a beautiful resort hotel, buildings, streets, houses, farms, orchards, lakes and entertainment, including aquatic amphitheaters, golfing, fishing, hunting, motoring and yachting. He had plans to connect the Florida Gulf Coast and Atlantic Ocean by waterways, to his Interocean City so that boats could travel inland. It was a resort and entertainment project that would have dwarfed present day Disney World. Ironically this 5,000 acre project adjoins Disney World to the north built in 1971. Mr. White was definitely a man ahead of his time. An army of workmen converged on White’s vast prairie and by the onset of the 1924-25 winter season, the Interocean City Hotel was finished at a cost of $300,000. He went on to build and sell $200,000 worth of homes, with sidewalks and streets. Today’s value would have been in the millions.
Interocean City sprung up during the 1920s (“Roaring Twenties”) - a decade of prosperity in North America during the economic boom following World War I. Then in 1925 it happened. The Great Depression of 1929-1939 brought the building of Mr. J.W. White’s Interocean City resort to a screeching halt. The workers arrived at Interocean City for their paychecks, only to find that the boss men weren’t around. It was never completed because the developer fell on hard times prior to the 1929 Stock Market crash. Mr. J.W. (John Wesley) Wile, former owner of the 5,000 acres, sold it to J.W. White and then repossessed the entire bankrupted Interocean City project. Interocean City sat idle and became known as "Florida's Biggest Ghost Town" for 10 years. The magnificent hotel stood vacant for a decade like a medieval castle on an empty plain. Cattle chewed grass on the huge porch of the once-great hotel. The stores, office buildings, homes, lighted streets, sidewalks, millwork and truck factories became empty. The nearby city of Kissimmee continued to grow and prosper while Interocean City became idle and deteriorated.
The Interocean City Hotel under construction in 1925, just
before the impact of the Great Depression affected the U.S.A.