Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Gary R. Mormino, Ph.D.

Committee Member

John Belohlavek, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Edward Silbert, Ph.D.


florida, real estate, land boom, tampa, miami, jacksonville, davis islands, davis shores, 1920s


The 1920s land boom in Florida produced a wide variety of characters. Among the most important, but lesser known, of those was David Paul Davis. Davis was born in November 1885 in Green Cove Springs, Florida. His family moved to Tampa in 1895, where he attended school and held a number of different jobs. He left Tampa in 1908 and reappeared in Jacksonville in 1915. That same year, in Jacksonville, he married Marjorie H. Merritt.

The young couple moved to Miami in 1920, where Davis began to sell real estate. He became quite adept, developing a number of subdivisions in the Buena Vista section of the city. He made a considerable fortune in Miami, but lost his wife, who died while giving birth to their second child.

Davis moved back to Tampa in 1924 and began work on the largest development on Florida's west coast. That development, Davis Islands, made him wildly rich and nationally famous. He followed up Davis Islands with Davis Shores, a subdivision in St. Augustine that Davis envisioned as being twice the size of Davis Islands.

The Florida land boom collapsed before Davis could complete Davis Shores. In an attempt to keep the St. Augustine project afloat, Davis sold his Tampa development in August 1926. The effort was in vain and Davis slipped further into debt. He died under mysterious circumstances while en route to Europe aboard a luxury liner on October 12, 1926.