In 1960, Iowa-born developer Norman Johnson paid $9 million for 2,650 acres of land in southwestern Broward County. By 1961, this community of 1.75 square miles – which Johnson named Sunrise Golf Village – had less than 350 residents.
It has been reported that the community was to be named Sunset Village – but this did not occur because of objections from residents who felt that “sunset” was too final. (Originally called “Sunset”, the name did not sit well with the retirees whom developers wanted to attract, so a change was made to “Sunrise”.)
Johnson and F. E. Dykstra developed and built an “upside-down house” to lure prospective property buyers. The home was completely furnished, and the carport featured an upside-down automobile. Public interest was aroused through numerous news stories – including a feature in Life magazine. The structure became a national attraction that drew thousands to the Village. People came to stand on the ceiling – and many stayed to make their home in the community.
In 1961, Norman Johnson was appointed by Governor Farris Bryant as the first mayor of Sunrise Golf Village.
According to “City of Sunrise Golf Village,” a booklet produced by the City in 1969: “On January 10, 1967, (a date called for by City Charter) Sunrise Golf Village emerged from a developer’s operation into a free city under complete control of its residents. Also, on this auspicious date, the City elected a Mayor and seven Councilmen to four-year terms of office. The City of Sunrise Golf Village which comprises 3 1/2 square miles, has no air pollution or drainage problems, all paved streets, and street lighting throughout the entire City.”