A HISTORY OF PALM BEACH GARDENS
By Donald L. Kiselewski, Sr.
Imagine if you will, that you are living in the late 1800s and you were a typical "Snow Bird," or pioneer, wanting to establish a homestead and start a new life, you would probably want to head south to Florida. Seems reasonable and something easy to do, but the reality was truly difficult.
You would have to start by catching one of several trains that headed south and connected up with the FEC (Florida East Coast) railroad. The FEC train ride ended in Jupiter, since that's as far as the train could travel at the time. There was no bridge spanning the inlet that could carry the weight of the train.
The protected waterway (called the Intracoastal Waterway) hadn't been cut between the Jupiter inlet and the North end of Lake Worth. You would have had to boat across the inlet with all your baggage and personal belongings. Once you got off the transfer boat on the South side of the inlet you caught the Ox Train that carried you to the North end of Lake Worth where you then took a boat that headed south to the many destinations along the way where you could winter.
The land that Palm Beach Gardens now occupies was assembled in the mid-20th century by John D. MacArthur. The portion of his holdings that was finally packaged to submit to the state of Florida for incorporation reached some 4,000 plus acres. However, MacArthur believed the total land package was void of any inhabitants, only to find that there was one squatter, Charlie Cooper, who occupied a dilapidated house trailer. Mr. Mac, as he was called by many, quickly moved Charlie to a home in Lake Park with running water and electricity. The land was now clear of any obstructions prohibiting development.
With the FEC connecting Miami to the Northeast Corridor, it became necessary to have some stops along the way to pick up the crops from the Prosperity farmers while receiving needed supplies from the north. This is when the Prairie Siding was installed. This whistle stop on the FEC line was located at Monet Road. The residential developments, such as they were, were located between the railroad tracks and the ocean. The land in the area, ranging from the tracks to the West, became less desirable for use. In reality, old photos of that area show very little usable land because of ponding water, Palmetto and scrub.
There were numerous real estate booms and busts in the area from Jupiter south. Fortunes were made and lost during this period. One of the key figures was Harry Kelsey, a restaurateur from Springfield, Massachusetts, who, shortly after arriving here in 1919 to recover from pneumonia, acquired the land in North Dade County. At that time, it ran from Jupiter, south to Miami. Included in the purchase was some 14 miles of oceanfront property. The original Dade County Court House was located on what today is US Hwy One, about 100 yards north of PGA Boulevard.
In the late 19th century, the Intracoastal Waterway was dug from the Jupiter Inlet south to the north end of Lake Worth, connecting to the last southern section. This was done to encourage inland water "protected" travel, with the ability to carry heavy loads of goods and material. This completed the link from Trenton, New Jersey, to Miami, Florida. Initially, it was 5' deep by 50' wide and has since been increased several times to its current size of 10' deep to 120' wide in this portion of the waterway.
Incorporating a city from scratch, so to speak, placed Mr. Mac in a unique position. He was not hampered with any preconceived notions or commitments that had to be maintained, or that might have occurred with occupants on the property. This is where he excelled as a visionary.
His plan was to develop a balance between three functions in the city. First, to have upscale homes and the necessary facilities to serve them, second, to offer recreational facilities that complimented these new residences and the third function was a clean environment with well paying jobs for the residents.
He started on this journey on June 20, 1959, when Palm Beach Gardens became incorporated by the state of Florida. Its original administrative makeup consisted of five councilmen who were appointed by Mr. Mac to serve for the first three years of incorporation. However, to maintain more control, he had the State of Florida change the term of these first five councilmen to five years. Accordingly, they were fazed out of control and representatives for the residents were elected from the citizenry.
So, how did he propel his vision for the city? He started by blocking out the city in the areas with designated usage. Special considerations were made for land acquisition for schools and churches. Two areas were originally designated for residential construction. The area around Lake Catherine was first presented to the public in the "Parade of Homes.” Various builders constructed samples of their work for purchase consideration on lots within the city in various tracts that were established. These were moderately priced homes.
A section of more expensive homes was established in the "PGA Estates," located north of Holly Drive, west of Military Trail. These homes were designed and located to link with the PGA Country Club.
The second vision was to provide a means of upscale recreation. He accomplished this when he sent his real-estate representative, Jerry Kelly, to Dunedin, Florida, to negotiate with the Professional Golfers Association of America who were headquartered there at the time, but had run out of space. The PGA was persuaded to move...the price Mr. Mac paid was the cost of one new golf course and a commitment to loan the organization the money to build their clubhouse.
The third item to complete his vision of the city was to provide a clean environment with well paying jobs for the residents. Mr. Mac was very influential in getting Pratt and Whitney to build its plant in the area; however he felt there should be employment sources within the city. With this goal in mind, Mr. Mac persuaded Bob Sarnoff, Chairman of RCA to build the RCA computer plant on the site now known as the NorthCorp area.
A story that was revealed by a reliable source is that the RCA plant was to be built in Southern Georgia because the bid for the facility was a million dollars less than the one that was submitted by the contractor down here in Florida. Mr. Mac was reported to call the local contractor and to tell him if he cut his price by a million dollars, MacArthur would make up the difference. The prices were cut and the plant was built in Palm Beach Gardens.
Our thanks to John D. MacArthur and to the men and women who continue to make a vision, reality.
Compiled & Written by:
Donald L. Kiselewski, Sr., Chairman
Palm Beach Gardens Historical Society
There is little question that the City of Palm Beach Gardens had one of the most unique births in comparison to most cities in United States. Like other cities, it was started by a group of people whose purpose was to join together for a common good. However, "The Gardens," as it is fondly referred to, got it's start by the indisputable drive of John D. MacArthur, and a raw piece of land.
Many who did not know him personally as I did, cast him as an eccentric billionaire. He was in fact, a true visionary and saw what could be. Where most folks saw swampland and woods, MacArthur saw a city. He began to design and develop a purpose for the area, bringing the best of life's values into fruition, truly integrating a life style that wasn't a cookie cutter, programmed community.
Controlled by its residents, his city realized the two greatest aspects of a viable community; unparalleled recreational opportunities and an excellent base of middle-class employment opportunities.
In 1958, the ground was broken for the first structure in the city. Since that time, over 50,000 residents have come to call Palm Beach Gardens their home. It's purposeful charter, created by visionary John D. MacArthur, has fulfilled that special character exemplifying a wonderful way of life for a community that ranges from young families to senior citizens.
Donald L. Kiselewski, Sr.
Palm Beach Gardens Historical Society, Inc.
May of 2008,
Don Kiselewski and Steve Cohen, along with a handful of others, which included Arline Kiselewski, Maria Mamlouk, Irene Pedrick and Linda Smith, incorporated the Palm Beach Gardens Historical Society, Inc. as a non-profit, non-governmental, volunteer organization. A board of directors was established and at one of their first meetings, a mission statement was adopted.
The mission of the Palm Beach Gardens Historical Society is to collect, preserve and share the rich history of the City of Palm Beach Gardens for the education and enjoyment of current and future generations.
Immediately upon incorporation, documents were filed to obtain a 501(c)3, designating the Society as a charitable organization. In addition, approval from the State of Florida was granted allowing the Society to solicit funds and it was designated a Florida Tax free status.
March 25, 2008
The Society started a series of enrichment lectures to capture past experiences that add to the collection of historical knowledge of the city.
Nancy Kriplen spoke on March 25, 2008, and as the first Enrichment speaker of the Society, she told stories from her recently published book, "The Eccentric Billionaire," about John D. MacArthur. The program was held in the Lakeside Recreation Center, with 35 people attending.
September 24, 2008, Peter Bergle, the Fire Marshall of the City of Palm Beach Gardens, spoke on the history of the fire service in the city. This Enrichment Program was held at Lakeside Recreation Center.
October 22, 2008
Dr. Edward Eissey, educator and past principal of numerous schools within the city, spoke about the educational aspects of the city's beginnings. The Enrichment Program was held at Lakeside Recreation Center.
January 28, 2009
Former Mayor Walter Wiley presented an Enrichment Program where he shared the governmental experiences which occurred in the early days of development in the city. The Enrichment Program was held at Lakeside Recreation Center.
The Society started a “Living History” program to preserve on video, the people of the community who have made contributions to make our city what it is today. Don Kiselewski continues interviewing these significant individuals while capturing the conversations on video.
Attics and closets started to be cleaned of memorabilia of the city’s history that has been collected over the years. Historical items are being donated to the archiving committee. The Society appreciates and welcomes any and all items of the city’s history.
March 8, 2009
A get acquainted “Taste of History” luncheon was held at the Bonnette Hunting Lodge, with 100 members and guests in attendance. Alix Bonnette related details of the history of the Hunt Club and its many celebrity guests.
Because of the current economic situation, the archiving committee was restricted in the time allowed to work with documents in the City's Lakeside Center where the archiving of city documents had started. It became apparent that the Society needed its own space to move ahead with its mission statement. With this purpose in mind, the Society member worked with Pastor Tom Mullins of Christ Fellowship to develop a joint use arrangement for their Outreach building located on the South Campus of their facility, for historical purposes.
May 27, 2009
The first enrichment presentation was held at the Society's new facility, which is located at 5312 Northlake Blvd., on the South side of the street across from the entrance to the main Christ Fellowship campus on the North side, the speaker was Sherman Adler. Sherman was one of John D. MacArthur’s trusted advisors in the development of Palm Beach Gardens. He also directed the production company that produced the numerous TV shows such as Gentle Ben, Flipper and Treasure Island, which were filmed in the area.
From 1 to 3 PM, the Society celebrated the 50th Birthday of the city with an open house and ribbon cutting ceremony at its new home. A special exhibit of MacArthur photos was part of the Founder’s Day festivities.
The membership has been growing steadily. Everyone joining the Society from incorporation until the end of calendar year 2009 is considered a “Founding Member.”
September 23, 2009
Tom Cairns, Chief Coordinator of Forbes Properties, was the Enrichment Program speaker and was joined by Steve Cohen and Rick Warner, both former MacArthur Foundation executives. They jointly presented the "history behind the development and implementation of the Gardens Mall".
October 13, 2009
Harvey Oyer, III, presented his new children’s book covering the early history of his family in South Florida titled, "The Adventures of Charlie Pierce; The American Jungle." After the presentation he held a book signing. [Pictured with him are Pam Kessler, Arline Kiselewski and Sandy Mast].
November 11, 2009
Every enrichment program speaker's name is engraved on the Society's recognitions plaque. Pictured is Don Kiselewski presenting the Enrichment Program plaque to Debi Murray and Tony Marconi for their presentation, from the archives of Palm Beach County, with stories and photos of early Palm Beach.
The Society participated in the celebration of the City's 50th Birthday with a display of memorabilia that it acquired.
December 9, 2009,
A look back at our city's holiday history was presented in a DVD presentation of the Hetzel Brothers Christmas Pageant. The DVD was narrated by 12-year old Kelly Chase. Wayne Hetzel, who was just a boy when the pageant was displayed at the entrance to the city, spoke about his many memories of the pageant that first was held some 40 years ago.
January 13, 2010
Jim Ponce, acclaimed by the Palm Beach Town Council as the"Only two legged historical landmark," presented a history of Palm Beach. He delighted everyone during his presentation with stories of Henry Morrison Flagler and his influence on Palm Beach.
The Society is collaborating, with the City’s Art in Public Places and Parks and Recreation Department, in the planning and development of the “History Walk” that is to be constructed at the south end of the Lake Catherine Park. The walk will be constructed within the Palm Beach Gardens Woman’s Club Honor Park.
February 10, 2010
Presenting the history of the Spotlight Players, were Hank Gonzalez, Lorian Brownlee and Barry Russal. Not only did they bring back the memories of the Spotlight Players, but also donated memorabilia items to the Society.
On March 10, 2010
The Enrichment Pogram revolved around the history and development of Seacoast Utilities, the entity that has provided water and sewer services to the city since its beginning. Andrea Holmes, who was celebrating her 42 years with the utility, related many interesting stories of the early days when the utility was under MacArthur's control.
April 14, 2010
Christy Murphy, Ann Shilling, Amy Stepper and Christy Wolnevitz of the Palm Beach Gardens Recreation Department, spoke about the History of Recreation in the City at the April 14, 2010, program. The Department started with its first Director Woody Dukes and a jungle gym, and has progressed to one of the most outstanding City Recreation Departments in the Nation.
May 12, 2010
The History of the Palm Beach Gardens Woman's Club, the oldest volunteer organization in the city, beginning in 1967, was presented by Past President Arline Kiselewski on May 12, 2010. Her visual presentation outlined the many projects that built the nucleus of volunteer involvement in the city. At the end of the program, the Woman's Club donated their vast collections of scrap books and memorabilia to the Society. The collection captures more than four decades the city's 50 years of existance.
June 4 through July 8, 2010
The Society, in conjunction with the City, presented a photography display of the highlights of the city's first 51 years. A display was presented during a Founders Day reception held in the City Hall Lobby on June 17, 2010, culminating in the birthday celebration event.
July - August 2010
September 8, 2010
The City's Long Range Development Plan which was published in 1970, was transferred to a DVD and presented for the September program. Mayors Walt Wiley and Jim DeLonga, along with Bob Sellers, who was Chairman of the City's Planning and Zoning Committee as well as Chairman of the Long Range Planning Committee, were introduced by Mayor Don Kiselewski who stated, "They were there. . . the founding fathers, so to speak, of our city's growth pattern. Not everything was followed according to plan, but it framed the city's future growth."
October 13, 2010
North County District Commissioner Karen Marcus spoke at the October Enrichment Program. A native of North Palm Beach, Karen was in the first Palm Beach Gardens High School graduating class. She related numerous stories about the early years in the area. In one she described how her dad, during his business activities, used to fly a helicopter from Miami to Cape Canaveral and would land the chopper in a vacant lot up the street from their house to drop off his weekly laundry. This was truly a descriptive picture of just how open the north county area was during those early days. As one of the longest serving County Commissioners, she also spoke of the activities and other issues that have affected the north county area.
November 10, 2010
Frank Gillette spoke of Pratt & Whitney's 50 years of History and its contributions to Palm Beach County, Florida. His audio/visual program on November 10, 2010, filled the meeting room with past and present Pratt employees.
December 8, 2010
The Society held a Holiday Open House and highlights of the evening included video memories of the Hetzel Brothers Christmas Pageant, a video presentation of the City's Art in Public Places and a collection of photos which are slated for insertion into the book on the history of the Gardens, published by the Society. Linda Smith, Society Archivist, was responsible for the presentation.
January 12, 2011
Former local television newsman, Bob Nichols, spoke at the January Enrichment Program, relating stories of his involvement with John D. MacArthur and the local media. Bob and his dad were both employees of Channel 12 when it was owned by MacArthur. A recipient of a TV Emmy Award, Bob was the official spokesman for election headquarters when the challenges of the "hanging chads" were determining the fate of the Bush v. Gore Presidential Race.
February 9, 2011
"The Last Egret," was reviewed by its author, Harvey E. Oyer, III, a fifth generation descendant of the Pierce family of Florida. As the author of several children's books on the true history of our area, this book was chosen by the Palm Beach County School District this year for its first ever, "Read Together Program," where all 4th graders in the County read the same book simultaneously. This included the participation of 15,000 students from 109 public and 21 private schools.
March 9, 2011
Golf and the History of the Professional Golfers' Association of America was the title of Kelly Elbin's Enrichment Program for March. As the Director of Publications and Communications, of the PGA of America, Kelly enlightened the Society on the role the PGA played by moving to the area and making the Gardens "The World Headquarters of Golf." In addition to a video presentation, memorabilia from the past along with the Wanamaker Trophy, was displayed for the benefit of the Society.
April 13, 2011
The Society revisited a truly amazing event that occured on May 1, 1981, which was depicted, in a DVD presentation of, "The House that Buz Built,"captured the amazing construction of a 3-Bedroom, 2.5 Bath home which started from a raw piece of ground on Hickory Drive. Completed in 7:32 hours, DaVosta set a Guinness Book World Record after leading a team of 500 volunteer builders and craftsmen who donated labor and material toward this effort. The house was auctioned off to the highest bidder, with the $155,000 proceeds being donated to the City for the construction of the City's swimming pool.
May 11, 2011
Highlights of the restoration of the County's oldest structure, the Jupiter Lighthouse, was the subject of Bob Boyd's presentation. Bob detailed the original construction elements and the details involved in the restoration process to keep the structure as original as possible since its construction 150 years ago.
June 18, 2011
To celebrate this years Founders Day, the Society chose to take their first field trip on June 18, 2011. The motor coach trip included travel to Martin County's House of Refuge, where those attending were guided through the facility and informed of the role the house played in the survival of shipwrecked sailors who shipwrecked their ships while traveling around Gilbert's Bar.
Continuing on to Indiantown, the group enjoyed lunch and a personal presentation by Jonnie Flewelling, the daughter of the owner of the century old Landmark Seminole Inn. She shared colorful stories of Indiantown's history and the notable people associated with the Inn.
Enrichment Programs recess over the summer months. However, the Society continues to flourish as it prepares for another year ahead.
September 14, 2012
Chief Stephen Stepp, Police Chief of the City of Palm Beach Gardens, opened our fall season of enrichment programs on September 14. He spoke about the history of the department and its growth. Most interesting were his comments during a CD presentation on the various chiefs that preceded him since 1965 when the city was turned over to the residents. He also presented the early "true" police blotters which contained the actions of our volunteer police department. We've also come along way in the vehicles that we use to chase the bad guys.
The Honorable Robert (Bert) Premuroso, Vice Mayor of the City of Palm Beach Gardens brought back many memories of the early days in Palm Beach Gardens during his talk about "Growing Up in the Gardens." Bert's family moved to the Gardens in 1967 when he was 3 years old, and except for college, has never left. He and his wife and family now live right next door to the home where he grew up. Bert's talk became a most interesting Q&A session with him asking questions that all started out with, "Do you remember what was located at . . . . ?" Many of the answers caused smiles on the faces of the oldtimers and looks of amazement from the newcomers. Needless to say, a good time was had by all.
October 21, 2011
The Daughters of the American Revolution dedicated a historical marker at the entrance to the City of Palm Beach Gardens on MacArthur Blvd. at Northlake Blvd. The marker tells the story of the beginning of the city in 1959 and the efforts of the city's founder, John D. MacArthur, in having the banyan trees planted at this location. These trees have been a living symbol of the city, so it was only fitting that the city's first historical marker be at this location. Pictured are members of the Historical Society who attended the event.
November 9th, 2011
Ed Chase, then CEO and President of the Northern Palm Beach County Chamber of Commerce, presented a detailed history of the Chamber, starting with the Riviera Beach Chamber in the 1960s, which grew to include Lake Park and North Palm Beach. In the early 1980s, Palm Beach Gardens started its Chamber, which later joined the other Chambers to became the Northern Palm Beach County Chamber of Commerce. Ed spoke to the Chamber's many areas of involvement, but emphasized its largest effort, Arti Gras, which now draws an attendance of over 120,000 visitors. The Chamber boasts some 800 members and is still growing.
November 12, 2011
The Society conducted its Fall field trip to Delray Beach's Historic Districts and the Morikami Gardens. Highlights of the trip included a guided tour on Lolly the Trolly through five of the city's historic districts, a delicious Japanese Bento Box lunch and a self guided tour of the beautiful gardens. Delray Beach is celebrating its 100 anniversary of existence, finally officially incorporated until 1927.
December 14, 2011
Dr. Linnie Sue Comerford painted verbal pictures of early life here in Palm Beach County. . . highlighting the foods and other elements that shaped the true Florida Pioneer spirit. She spoke to the uniqueness of the menu that was driven by the availability of native vegetables, fruits and wildlife, with no celebration being considered a success unless there was Opossum Pie. Her slide presentation covered the development of the county from its beginnings with the Seminoles Chickees to the current Breakers Hotel.
January 11, 2012
Mayor David Levy presented the "State of our City" and did an excellent job of putting things into perspective regarding our past, today and most importantly, where we are headed in the future. In addition to the Mayor, all four of the other Council Members were present at the meeting and contributed comments.
February 8, 2012
Richard Procyk, Author and Historian, presented a full hour DVD outlining the impact of the Seminole Tribes in our area, recorded at the Loxahatchee River Battlefield Park, where the Second Seminole war took place. His in-depth knowledge comes from his 20 years of personal involvement in the exploration and research of the events that took place there. Those in attendance were spellbound by the detailed information about the individuals involved and their reasoning behind the events.
Christian Davenport, Palm Beach County Archeologist, stirred our imaginations as he took us for a look-back at what was happening in our area thousands of years ago, long before the pyramids were built. He has been involved in the discovery of some 30 archeological sites here in Palm Beach County. Most sites were in the form of shell mounds which contained artifacts of the various Indian tribes that inhabited the area. The Corbet Wildlife Area contains numerous indications of our prehistoric ancestors. Most interesting is a site, which isn't easily accessible except by air boat, where shell pathways radiate from a center mound, each capped by a semi circle.
April 11, 2012
Library History Month was celebrated on April 11, 2012, with a joint meeting of the Historical Society and Friends of the Library. It was held at the Gardens Library, which is the largest in the Palm Beach County system. John J. Callahan, III, Director of the County Library System presented a wonderful overview of the current involvements of the county libraries as well as the history of the Gardens Library from its beginning in a 700 Sq.Ft. store front in the Tanglewood Plaza to its current edifice on Campus drive.
May 9, 2012
Eliot Kleinberg gave the most enlighting presentation of the events and activities during the Civil War. Eliot is an author and historian for the Palm Beach Post who writes an award winning column on historical events. He spoke on the various battleground sites around our country that he has visited with his family and the effects these visits have had on his sons who have been able to put the Civil War in perspective because of these experiences. We were all enciched by his presentation.
Michele Williams, PhD., RPA presented a truly fascinating talk on just what is hidden below the surface of the water just off our shore. She embellished the circumstances of the demise of totally different types of ships that that came to rest on the bottom of the ocean. Her talk highlighted the different preservation areas that have been established to protect the various sunken vessels while allowing divers to enjoy diving on the wrecks. Her talk was presented to an overflowing audience that were fascinated with her presentation.
Special Note: Prior to Dr. Williams presentation, Dr. Linnie Sue Comerford presented the Society with a bust of Sir Harry Oakes, who was one of the early land owners in Northern Palm Beach County, and, at one time, owned the majority of land in Lake Park, North Palm Beach and Palm Beach Gardens. Sue George of Okeechobee came across the bust in the attic of her home and gifted it to Linnie Sue, who, in turn, gave it to the Society.
June 30, 2012
Society members and guests experienced the food culture of Lake Worth and Lantana on their private "Taste of History Culinary Tour." They visited numerous locations in the two cities, sampling ethnic foods that have influenced the lifestyles of the residents of these cities. Lori Dorant, Director of the Taste of History Tours, guided the group through these eating experiences, which included English Scones, Guatemalan Burritos, Australian Pavlova and other tasty tidbits. She also arranged the opening of the Lake Worth Museum which has been closed for sometime and, in addition, arranged for a visit to the Little Red Schoolhouse, which had been closed. It never was a school but did have many varied uses in its past.
July - August
September 12, 2012
Mark Hendrickson, the City's forester, presented a most interesting talk at our September 12, 2012, enrichment program. He focused on the various actions and reactions that have taken place in the last 40-years of our city's history as landscaping has added to the character of our city. His greatest emphasis was not on the various codes and ordinances that have been enacted by the City Council, but rather what appears to be an ongoing competition of the various Developers to enhance their projects' landscaping above and beyond that of their competitors and as required by the City. This has lead to the beautiful tree canopy for the city. Most interesting is that, as the city continues to develop, more than 50% of the land area is committed to landscaped open space.
September 29, 2012
Linda Smith, Susy Bryant, Maria Mamlouk, Irene Pedrick, Arline and Don Kiselewski, authors of the Palm Beach Gardens Book, gathered for a great book signing at Costco.
October 10, 2012
Dr. Scott McFarland presented a most interesting program on the History of the Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center for October's enrichment program. His emphasis was on the great contribution the center has made to our area in the treatment of heart conditions. He also spoke about his continuing role in emergency room treatment. Those present received an excellent viewpoint on the importance of the Medical Center to our community.
Members on their field trip gather at the site of a historic street light, one of four still remaining from their original installation in 1929. This was just one of the many interesting areas visited during the "Taste of History" tour of Boynton Beach.
Emergency Management was the subject of Sheridan "Butch" Truesdale's presentation at the November 2012 enrichment program. Butch covered a number of situations into which the County's emergency teams have been thrust, including tornadoes, flooding, hurricanes, erosion and even the election hanging chads. He spoke of the numerous times, during emergencies, that the management teams had to hunker down in their windowless building.
December 12, 2012
Society members traveled to the Everglades to learn of the history of sugar production and its impact on our area. They were the personal guests of the Fanjul family, who escorted them on a tour of the cane growing area and the processing and refining facility at their Okeelanta plant. This is just one of the facilities in the Florida Crystals group.
Playing the role of Henry Morrison Flagler, Jim Ponce spoke to our Society on December 12, 2012. Dressed in Flagler's look-a-like attire, he took us on an enchanted walk through his very colorful life. We learned not only the history, but the historical foot print that Flagler left on our area. In addition, Jim shared with us Flagler's many personal traits and beliefs.
January 22, 2013
Vice-Mayor Robert Premuroso's presentation on the "State of our City" was most informative. In addition to updating us on the city's happenings, he presented numerous projects that are scheduled to start construction in the very near future. It is great to have this kind of input.
Jeremy Lucas made so very clear what and why the various aspects of archiving are so important in our every day lives. His presentation on the efforts that are being made to utiliize "Digital Archiving" by our Society completely fascinated those attending his presentation.
Dr. Michele Williams once again kindled our interest in Archaeology. She presented an in depth chronology of the rationale involved in the placement and construction of one of Florida's National Parks. The Dry Tortugas, located some 60 miles West of Key West, is a tiny group of islands and became the home of Ft. Jefferson, which at one time was reported to be the largest brick structure in the world. Dr. Williams' presentation detailed the many aspects of the life of the occupants at the fort, most of which were discerned from the artifacts found at the site.
George Poncy, author, actor, screen writer and producer, presented the most interesting and informative program about a little known chapter in our City's history. He detailed the sordid events of drug smuggling into Florida through the once available landing strip near the intersection of Northlake and the Turnpike. The details of the activities during the early 80's were highlighted in his best selling book, "Snow on the Palms." Needless to say, the presentation provoked many questions.
June's enrichment program, author and Historian James Snyder presented a most interesting program with highlights from his recently prulished historical novel "The Cross and the Mask." The life and culture of the native people that lived in our area some 2,000 years ago are seen through his eyes in the novel.
Here comes Rusty" was the phrase of the day when the Society visited the Palm Beach Kennel Club to celebrate the City's Founders Day on June 22, 2013. The Kennel Club presented us with a flyer which outlined the colorful history of the track. After a great lunch the group got into the swing of things and started winning, or so they reported. . . call it beginners luck. A group of members made it to the finish line to accept the plaque commemorating the sixth race which honored Founder's Day. Accepting the plaque is Mayor Bert Premuroso.
July - August 2013
September 17, 2013
The Antique Roadshow came to Palm Beach Gardens with Scott Simmons' remarkable knowledge of his memorabilia. Members and guests brought their precious memorabilia to the enrichment program where Scott not only was able to date the objects, describe where and how they were made, he placed an approximate value on the item. Needless to say, everyone was impressed with Scott's knowledge of antiques and advice on the care, handling and repairs of slightly dinged items. He was also able to distinguish between northern and southern antiques based on color and styles. It was truly an educational experience.
October 15, 2013
,Jeffery Berman presented the highlights of the revitalization of DownTown at the Gardens. He outlined the many challenges his organization faced in changing the image and workings of the outdoor mall to turn it into a viable entity that has become a strong asset to the City of Palm Beach Gardens.
Society members were truly enriched by the presentation of State Representative Patrick Rooney. Pat avoided all talk of government to focus on the rich history of the Rooney Family in South Florida and elsewhere.
His stories on the influence his family has on racing of both dogs and horses were truly fascinating, when he discussed their race track holdings along the entire east coast of America. We Americans are truly hooked on the "Sport of Kings. And the Steelers were mentioned, too!
December 8, 2013
The "Lady Atlantic" Cruise Ship was the venue for our enrichment adventure this month. Members and their family and friends enjoyed a delightful luncheon cruise on the Intercoastal waterway. The three hour round trip cruise departed from Delray, highlighting the many palatial homes along the way.
January 8, 2014
Mayor Bert Premuroso spoke on the State of Our City, with his presentation focusing on the sound fiscal position our city enjoys. This position reflects the opulence and nature of our city. His presentation was a great ego builder for our residents, highlighting our financial, social, educational, recreational assets and the life style of our city.
February 12, 2014
Former State Representative and County Commissioner, James Watt was our Enrichment Program Speaker. He related the political history of our area and state in the 1980s, giving us an insiders view of the give and take that was necessary to keep our state and our area moving forward during this era. Jim's recollections and insights of the personal agendas of the law makers was truly unique and amusing.
Donald Kiselewski, Jr., Director of External Affairs for Florida Power & Light presented a most informative history on the "Powering of Florida" in March 2014. He developed through his presentation the events and various rationales that meshed together to bring us the outstanding and economical energy source that we all enjoy and take for granted. We learned that, in addition to fossil fuels, FP&L captures our electrical energy from nuclear, wind and solar sources.
The implosion of the smoke stacks at FP&L Riviera Beach plant was caught on video and shocked our audience when it was shown on the 4 large screen TV monitors in our meeting room. The debris, smoke and dust from the explosions seemed to permeate the room. A dramatic moment was captured, defining the dedication that FP&L has in moving from the past and into the future.
April 14, 2014
"Who lived here before us" was the subject of Dr. Michele Williams' Enrichment program presentation. Again, she fascinated the audience when she described the numerous archeological sites here in Palm Beach County and South Florida and presented the rationale of our earliest area inhabitants for choosing these various sites. Most interesting was what was found and what evidence these items presented to describe the lifestyle of those who occupied the sites.
May 14, 2014
Author Harvey Oyer, III, told a spellbinding story of his ancestor Charlie Pierce in his newest book, "The Last Calusa." His story, which he skillfully painted in our minds' eye, told of the adventure of Charlie Pierce. along with his sister Lillie and friend, Tiger the Seminole, lead Dr. Livingston and his assistant Barkley through the Everglades of South Florida. Livingston commissioned Charlie to help him find a one of a kind flower, but as the story twists and turns, it was not a flower he sought.
June 21, 2014
We did it again this month when the Sociey, "went to the dogs!" This was one day after the 55th anniversary of the founding of the City of Palm Beach Gardens. Lunch and an afternoon of cheering the dogs along at the historic Palm Beach Kennel Club was great fun for both winners and losers. The track management announced one of the races was in honor of "Palm Beach Gardens Anniversary."
July - August 2014
Mayor David Levy's talk, on September 10th, on the Tamiami Trail was most enlightening. There are times when we just take thing for granted and just assume that thing were alwasys the way that they are today. Such is the case with our access in South Florida between the cities on Atlantic ocean on the East side of Florida and the Gulf of Mexico on the west. There was a time when one would have to go North to the center of the state, cross over to the other side and head South. Needless to say there were numerious attempts to build the road across the swamps without success. It finally took a sweetheat deal with the State which included moving County lines, swapping and selling land which would that greatly increased it value because of the access to the East-West corridor connecting the Southern portion of the state.
October 8, 2014
St. Augustine, Florida, the oldest city in America, was the subject of Historian James Ponce's talk for October's presentation. Jim's presentation was given to a full house of eager attendies who learned the rational for the location and functions of the city and most of the important history of the city. In addition to his naraitive on the history of the city he described the legal battle St. Augustine had with Jamestown to claim the bragging rights as oldest. As a native of the city who was born there, and even was given his middle name as August, his presentation placed greater insight and details about the inner workings of the area.
In appreciation for Jim's service and dedication to the History of our area, he was presented with a lifetime membership to the Palm Beach Gardens Historical Society.
November 12, 2014
Mayor David Levy presented the Enrichment Speaker's Plaque to Ken Kelly and Joel Levine at the November 12th Society's enrichment program. The history of the Catholic and Jewish presence in the city was outlined which truly gave the program attendies an indepth perspective of the early beginnings of these two religious organizations in our fledgeling city to the present day impact that they continue to make in our city life.
December 10, 2014
"Bits and Pieces" of our City's history was the subject of Mayor Don Kiselewski's talk at December's Enrichment program. Events in the 55-year history of our city from the time the area was first inhabited by early pioneer farmers in the area called Prosperity Farms, to many of the historical moments that have brought us to our unique gated residential developments. Many stories were highlighted of personal involvemnts in our areas history and the people involved, like Jonh D. MacArthur who Don worked with in the 70's.
January, 14, 2015
Mayor Bert Premuroso painted a wonderful picture of what our city has in store for us at our January 14 Enrichment program. Our financial future is bright with a credit rating better than the Unitied States of America. He indicated that the city is gearing up for a new burst of construction energy. He also reinforced the city's plan to keep these new additions to our city in harmony with our current environrment.
February 11, 2015
Mike Lyons, "The Weather Man" on WPBF Channel 25 enlightened us about what really goes into predicting the weather in our area at our February Enrichment program. There is a lot more too it than a lot of us thought, even though aparently the final prediction is a consensus from those associates at the station when the message goes out to the public. It was truly interesting to learn how the many atmospheric diffrences in our area play such an important role as to what might happen with our weather.
March 11, 2015
Archeologist, Michele Williams, PHD, did it again for our annual "Archeology Month" Enrichment Program on March 11th. She kept the audience on the edge of their chairs while she went into details about our prehistoric ancestors. Delving deep into the rational of how the elements found in archeological digs in our area are traceable to other areas of our country, and presenting hyphothies as to the circumstances involved in the transplanting of such items. Her presentation brought out the archeologist in us all.
March 25, 2015
The next activities of the Society were two field trips. In March we motor coached to Fairchild Gardens in Coral Gables, Florida to capture the glass blowing artistry of Chihuly whose works were interwoven into the unique landscapes. A beautiful experience on a beauiful day.
April 25 2015
April found the Society again on a field trip North to Stuart for a privately guided tour of the Elliot Museum with its many automotive elements and restored automobiles of the early times in the industry. Then they traveled to Ft. Pierce, for a picnic lunch and a guided tour of the Navy Seal Museum. The history of the Seals and many of their heroic deeds were presented along with many of the tools and equiptment that were used in the various missions were highlighted by a private guide, including the boat used in the Captain Phillips rescue.
May 13, 2015
Ruth Berg spoke in May about the events in her early life, Growing up in Northern Palm Beach County. She highlighted numerious details which occured and she reported on in her recently published book on the subject. Many of the attendees who have lived in the area during the same time frame as Ruth, recalled the events and area appearences that she described in her book.
June 20, 2015
June found the Society back at the Dogs (Palm Beach Kennel Club) for our annual celebration of the birth of the city which happened to be on the exact date (56 years ago). A good time was had by all. . . even those who didn't cash in winning tickets. As always, the food was good, the dogs were fast and comradery excelled.
July - August 2015
September 9, 2015
Ken Kelly presented the Enrichment Placque to Eliot Kleinberg, the History Editor for the Palm Beach Post News Paper. Eliot presnted the most interesting program, based upon facts that he has collected centered on true life characters, such as the Ashley Gang, who he highlighted in his book . . . "Wicked Palm Beach: Lifestyles of the Rich and Heinous."
October 14, 2015
North Palm Beach County Commissioner Hal Valache spoke at our October Enrichment Program. He detailed the State of Our County going into all of the changes and improvements that are scheduled to take place in the near future. There are plans for extensive street improvements as well as numerious efforts in the Intercoastal Waterway to improve boating and provide more opprotunity for boat access and anchorage. Hal fielded numerious questions on indiviual concerns and plans for the future.
December 9, 2015
Attendees were carried back to the past when Anthony Marconi and Susan Gillis described the happinings in Palm Beach County during WWII. Their program presented many photos of various sites and organizations in the county that went into action, many footing their own bills to pay the cost to defend our shores. The volunteer aviation patrol and shore line spotters were key to our defence efforts in sighting submarines. Buildings like the Biltmore Hotel became a training station for women nurses. Ken Kelly (center), Vice Chairman of the Historical Society, presents the Enrichment Program plaque which carries the names of Anthony and Susan for their excellent presentation of our area history.
January 13, 2016
Scott Simmons, avid collector of antiques, presented the January program about his collection of Florida Souvenirs and collecting today. Scott has visited antique shops all over the United States and in Europe for over four decades. He is especially proud of his collection, having been born in Pahokee to a famiy of Florida pioneers. Scott displayed some of his favorite collection pieces which included cameona brooches painted with intricate details of Floida landscapes by Olive Commons. He has written about antiques and collecting since 2000 and has a column in the Florida Weekly newspaper where he just became editor.
February 10, 2016
Guy Bachman, Historian and Author, who was costumed as President Andrew Jackson, gave a lively presentation about the Seminole Wars fought in our area. He recounted the historical significane of the conflicts, highlighting the Second Seminole War which was the longest fought by the United States government against the Seminoles. Andrew Jackson was President during the war and Mr. Backman dressed and presented the program in a Scottish accent to emphansize the roll that Jackson played in the conflict as well as his personal life story.
March 9, 2016
Vice Chariman, Ken Kelly, presents the speakers plaque on March 9th to Jennifer Green, Archeologist, for her in depth presentation on the prehistoric human footprint left here in Northern Palm Beach County. She connected our area with other early inhabitants who shared trading items from the Mid-West with the natives of our Florida Penninsula.
April 13, 2016
On April 13th, Mayor David Levy outlined the geological development of our area starting millions of years ago. He directed us throug the movements of continents and the oceans of the world. Breaking out Florida as an off shoot of the African continent. The movements of the elements on our worlds surface are truly amazing.
May 11, 2016
Ken Kelly presented The Speakers Plaque to Kara Cowser and Lynn Desy at the May enrichment program. The ladies updated us on the opening of the DeBois home at the Jupiter Inlet. The home built on the top of an ancient midden commands a striking viewing location and is the oldest home in Palm Beach County. The home is set in a natural surronding and has been restored with period artifacts.
June 20, 2016
The Society Members were back at the Palm Beach Kennel Club to celebrate the 57th aniversary of the founding of the City of Palm Beach Gardens. It was a great outing with a great lunch, cordial conversation and fast dogs. Some members actually came home with more money than they started with.
July - August 2016
September 14, 2016,
Harvey Oyer, III, presented the newest book in his series, "The Adventures of Charlie Pierce." The book captures in detail the route, hardships, dangers and experiences that Charlie encountered when he became the substitute for "The Barefoot Mailman." Harvey signed copies of his book for members of the society at their enrichment program.
November 9th, 2016
"A trip down the Loxahadtchee" is the title of James D. Synder's most recent publication that was presented to the Society at their November 9th Enrichment Program. The book is a compilation of various sights seen along this beautiful river. They are presented in various media formats including oil, watercolor, acrylic, digital and film photography, and giclee, History, Nature and Beauty are woven throughout the publication.
January 11, 2017
"The state of the City" was presented by Mayor Marcie Tinsley at our January Enrichment Progam. She spoke in depth about our City's growth, financial position, services provided and planned improvements for the city. Don and Arline Kiselewski, Mayor Marcie Tinsley and Ken Kelly were awarded the Appreciation Plaque.