Leonard Button was born in 1867 in Birmingham, Alabama. He became a very successful publisher/owner of many newspapers and magazines in Alabama, including the Birmingham News (still the main newspaper there).
In 1934, Leonard moved to Longwood. He bought a 500-acre tract east of Casselberry and south of the horse track (now Legacy Park and Geneva School). He also acquired 43 acres in Longwood, near the Sanlando golf course.
Button was from a wealthy family. When he was seven years old he recalled traveling to England and being the guest of Queen Victoria at her country home at Sandringham. There he played with her grandson, who was about the same age and later became King George V (Queen Elizabeth’s grandfather). Button also played with their collies, which became his favorite dog.
From that influence, Leonard had collies his entire adult life including one named Dollie during his time in Longwood/Casselberry that he reported had a direct lineage to Queen Victoria’s collies.
Around 1940, Leonard began to try to develop his land east of Casselberry. He called it Buttonville, though the land had been platted Watts Farm decades earlier (I haven’t been able to track down the namesake Watts). Leonard touted the three lakes on the development and the cross-county road to be developed through the property that would link Forest City with Oviedo (now the combination of North Street, Dog Track Road, and Seminola Blvd).
The road was never completed to its full promise and the Buttonville area was long plagued by flooding due to the poor drainage of the low-lying area surrounded by lakes. During the early 50s, many again called for “The Buttonville Road” (aka Lake Dr aka Seminola Blvd) to be paved from 17-92 to Tuskawilla, largely to help traffic flow to the race track. However, it was only partially completed.
Leonard’s son Charles Button was a most vocal advocate to the county commission. However, the religious set favored keeping the road dirt because there was a bar in Buttonville and the Ministerial Association protested “building a road to a liquor joint”. During the late 1960s, Casselberry’s annexation craze incorporated parts of Buttonville into the city. However, Lake Drive through Buttonville was not paved until 1970 and the route from there to Tuskawilla was not paved until much later. Many will remember that up into the 2000s, this stretch was a rural two-lane country road and you had to make a hard turn off of Seminola onto Lake Dr to continue on to Tuskawilla.
Anyway… Leonard Button died at 85 in 1952 and Charlie began selling off the Sanlando and Buttonville properties immediately. The last of Buttonville was parceled off by the early 60s, but much of it wasn’t developed until the 1980s and a small section of it is still rural with large lots and farms–for now. The only remnant that retained the 1940s area name is the traffic light on 17-92, next to the Publix and Applebees with the short quarter-mile stretch that connects with Seminola. Every time I am sitting at the light, I remember Leonard Button and his would-be Buttonville.