J. S. Engler was the earliest subdivision developer, catering to negroes, in Nassau. In 1922, he saw an opportunity and took it. He bought a large tract of undeveloped land bordering Wulff Road and Blue Hills. He called it Englerston.
Engler came from Miami around the same time as the new Westward Villas subdivision was being marketed exclusively to white Americans.
Engler ran a grocery store in ‘Coloured Town’ in Miami. Many Bahamian negroes had emigrated to Florida in the early 1900s. This is probably where the inspiration, to sell small plots (50×100 lots) to negroes, seeking to move out of Nassau’s Grant’s Town.
Englerston subdivision emerged around 1923. It was near Grant’s Town, literally across the street. Englerston began on Wulff Road, which was across the street from Grant’s and Bain Town, moving southward, bordering Bluehill Road.
Grand promises were made, but in reality, the area was largely bush and continued to be so for sometime after.
In 1923, street names such as Washington and Lincoln, were said to be in Englerston. This was all probably an attempt at advertising, to spur on sales, with Bahamian negroes in Miami. There were no boulevards in Englerston in 1923.
NEW NASSAU SUBDIVISION— Nassau visitors returning to Miami report that a new subdivision recently opened there is a boulevard named “Lincoln” and an avenue named “Washington.” The subdivision, one of the first ever attempted recently there, is known as Englerston.” ——The Herald, Miami, Florida, SATURDAY 20th OCTOBER 1923
1949 – Englerston still a “clump of bushes in Grant’s Town”
In 1949, both Westward Villas and Englerston had been in existence over 25 years. In Nassau, other private residential developments had popped up since then. As private subdivisions, creation and maintenance of roads and other utilities were the responsibility of the developer.
Westward Villas in 1949 was an exclusively white subdivision, historically marketed as a second home development to Americans.
Englerston was an exclusively black subdivision, historically marketed to negroes moving out of the over crowded Grant’s Town and Bain Town areas.
By 1949, Englerston had only a few paths running through it and only a few homes built in the thick bushes. This was probably why, the entire development of 1,200 lots, apportioned in 50×100 parcels, were being sold – lock, stock and barrel.
Englerston Limited incorporated 12 September 1951
Englerston was bush and jungle, when Miami grocer J. S. Engler bought the land in 1922 or so. From this, he made promises of roads, coconut tree line corners and less congested, haphazard living as it existed for poor negroes in Grant’s and Bain Town.
Whatever Engler envisioned, didn’t materialise.
By 1949, it was reported that Ortland Hexton (Heston) Bodie Sr. was in negotiations to buy Englerston. In 1949, Englerston still had no electricity and no running water.
On 12 September 1951, Englerston Limited was incorporated.
Englerston 1967 – Lots of promises made for roads, water, electricity and telephone in the run up to 10th January 1967 elections
By 1967, Englerston was almost half a century old. By that time, Englerston had become a key battleground constituency for the negro vote.
Clifford Darling won for the Progressive Liberal Party, beating Donald K. Sands, United Bahamian Party, candidate.
Sands, in his campaign address on the eve of elections, highlighted the lack of proper roads and running water to houses. Many pathways to makeshift houses were simply worn down track roads through the bush. Street pumps were still a main source of water for many Englerston residents, some 45 years after the development was first conceived.