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In this post, I’ll cover the last part of Palm Beach County. Most of the sites are in 4 cities, with much potential zigging and zagging. How much you do is up to you.

For example, the first city, Lake Worth. Do you want to go to the Museum of Polo & Hall of Fame? It’s near the Turnpike, so well west, and not much else nearby but golf courses and country clubs. (see Google map)

The last historic districts in the county are in Lake Worth. The most northern is College Park, which is almost in West Palm Beach. The other two are close to downtown, and the other NRHPs. More south is the Osborne School, which doesn’t look particularly historic. But you know, books and covers. Go over to A1A and check out Eastover, a fancy estate on the ocean. It has the same address as Mar-A-Lago, but is in Manalapan. Like a lot of A1A through residential areas, there’s not much parking along the street. Fortunately, there’s a patch across from Eastover that’s not marked with “No Parking” signs or anything. So you can stop there and look at Eastover from outside the fence. (see Google map)

Next is Boynton Beach. A couple stops off US 1, then over to A1A is the Gulf Stream Golf Club. I didn’t know of the club when I was in the area before, but I suspect it’s private. So you may not be able to see any of the historic bits, should you go. (see Google map)

There’s a shipwreck off the coast around here, the Lofthus. There’s no historical marker I’m aware of, so it’s another look-in-the-direction-it-sunk ones, unless you dive.

  • Lofthus (¾ mile north of Boynton Inlet, 175 yards offshore) (NRHP)

After Boynton Beach is Delray Beach. Yep, South Florida, life’s a beach. The Courtenay Residence and J. B. Evans House are around A1A, the rest inland. The inland-iest is 6 jiggedy miles west of the (tricky to get to) old railroad station. It’s the Morikami Gardens. I’ve heard really good things about it, but wasn’t able to fit it in the last two times I passed through. Hopefully I can see it when I’m down there again. (see Google map)

The last stop in our trip through Palm Beach County is the Mouth of the Rat. Well, that’s the literal translation of Boca Raton. No one knows for sure why it’s named that, though of course there are theories. A likely one for the “mouth” part is there’s an inlet close by, and “boca” also means inlet. Whatever the meaning, I kind of like Boca.

The Boca Raton Old City Hall houses the local history museum. I’d like to check it out, but I’ve always gotten there when it’s not open. There’s a small railroad museum down US 1, with a couple of NRHP railcars. The museum itself is in an old train station that’s also on the NRHP. It was a dingy day when I was in Boca, but there was something about the place that I liked. Maybe the scattering of Mediterranean Revival buildings, maybe that it didn’t feel as built up as most of the surrounding area.

I need to get back there anyway, because there’s one niggling NRHP in the county that I’ve not photographed. It’s Boca Raton Fire Engine No. 1, also known as Old Betsy. The address that’s listed isn’t valid. Apparently it’s been moved to another fire station. I’ve not been able to quite pin it down. The historical society, oddly, couldn’t help. I guess I need to try getting in touch with the county fire department again. Hopefully it’s still around, and not been consigned to the junk heap. (see Google map)

Gosh, that’s Palm Beach County finished! The next US 1 posts will be easy, since there’s only about 35 NRHPs in Broward County, and a few museums and such. It’s Dade County that’s going to take some work. It’s got over 160 NRHPs, the most of any county in the state. But there are other places I’ll be doing before I get to them. Until next posting, see you on the road!

Route length: miles

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Though finished with West Palm Beach, you may still traverse some of it later, depending on how you leave Palm Beach after being done there.

Yes, it’s Palm Beach, not East Palm Beach. Palm Beach came first, built by Henry Flagler as a resort area. West Palm Beach, across the Intracoastal, was where most of the support staff lived.

There are three bridges that will get you to Palm Beach. Of course we’ll pick the northmost, the Flagler Memorial Bridge. This is also where US 1 and A1A split again. They don’t rejoin for another 45 miles, well into Broward County. I recommend going to the next city on the itinerary, Lake Worth, via A1A. It’s way prettier than US 1, which is a very utilitarian road until you get to the Keys.

Here’s another area that would make an ideal historic district. There are buckets of old well-kept buildings all over the place. There do tend to be restrictions on construction in historic districts, though, so maybe the residents don’t feel like dealing with that.

There’s a real assortment here. NRHPs, AGFHA and Florida 100 listings, even two NHLs. Which coincide with the two clusters of historic buildings. You’ve got the north part, where
Flagler’s former mansion is, as well as most of the fancy hotels. Then there’s the southern part, where’ll you’ll find Mar-A-Lago, now one of the Donald’s homes. The old town hall is here as well, so this was likely the governmental end. You can also get back to the mainland here over the US 98 bridge. (see Google map)

There are two more NRHP delisted sites here, both houses demolished years ago. Both properties are fenced and gated, so you’ll not be able to see what’s left, or what’s been built in their place. A Florida 100 house is around here, but it’s a private residence and likely the owners don’t want people gawking at it, so I haven’t attempted to find or give even approximate directions.

Finished with Palm Beach. ‘Til next time, see you on the road!

Route length: miles

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Let’s go downtown! Downtown West Palm Beach, that is.

I’m a bit surprised it’s not a historic district, as there’s various old buildings scattered throughout. Quite a few are on the NRHP. There is one teeny historic district, but it’s only a block along Clematis Street. Rather like the one in LaBelle.

Most of the downtown NRHPs are office buildings, no surprise. There are a couple of delisted sites, thanks to me. When I was visiting, I couldn’t find the Hibiscus Apartments or the Dixie Court Hotel. When I got home after, I discovered both had been torn down. There’s a Macy’s where the apartments used to be, and the hotel lot is the site of the new county courthouse. Which is across from the old county courthouse. The tearing down of various old buildings like the hotel led to an awakened interest in historic preservation, which helped keep the old courthouse from being destroyed after the new one was built. It’s unfortunate that often it takes something drastic to motivate people, but at least it did motivate.

Empty parking spots are rare, so when you find one, grab it. Walk as much as you can, rather than spending lots of time driving around hunting for parking, that’s my advice. (see Google map)

The last part of downtown I’ll cover are two churches just north of Okeechobee Boulevard. Both were found eligible to be on the NRHP, but neither is one. Probably due to owner objection, which is odd, since usually the owners are the ones to seek NRHP status. But sometimes other people or groups submit the proposal, hoping to preserve the site. However, the owners still have to approve. Of the two, the Episcopal Church is prettier. The Church of Christ, Scientist is large and grey and could easily be mistaken for an old courthouse. (see Google map)

Crossing Okeechobee Boulevard down US 1, you’ll encounter the Norton Museum of Art on the left. Across from it is the huge Woodlawn
Cemetery. Established in 1905, it’s another place where white victims of the 1928 hurricane are buried. I didn’t go through it, partly since I didn’t know the history of it when I was there. Heck, I didn’t even know it was there. Plus it’s at least 4 blocks long. Whenever I get back down there, though, I think I’ll spend an hour or two (or maybe three) walking around it.

From here, only a few NRHP buildings are left to see in West Palm Beach. On the other hand, there are seven historic districts you can go through. Most are adjacent, but one (Vedado) is off to the west. There’s some variety in architectural styles, but they’re predominately Mediterranean Revival. It was very popular in the 1920s in Florida, and especially so in the Palm Beach area. I only vaguely knew about architectural styles before I started this roving undertaking, though it had always interested me. Now I’ve learned more than I ever thought I would about Queen Anne and Mediterranean Revival and Prairie School styles, through sheer osmosis. Travel does broaden the mind, doncha know. (see Google map)

Before leaving West Palm Beach entirely, there are some museums and such, if those strike your fancy. I’ve not been to any of them, so I can’t tell you anything about them. Except the Yesteryear Village is close to the Turnpike, which is well to the west. I’ve mentioned before, but it bears repeating. Check on museum hours before you go. Might want to contact them directly too, since there might be special events or altered hours not listed on their websites. (see Google map)

Next, Palm Beach. See you on the road!

Route length: miles

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I can’t put it off any longer. It’s time to enter the morass of metropolitan mania and malls that is south Florida. Southeast Florida, actually since southwest Florida isn’t nearly as kooky. I think Carl Hiaasen and Dave Barry live down there because it’s such a font of inspiration for their work. More power to them.

Some previous posts have skirted the area. Going to the Keys, you can’t help but go through Dade County. Driving around Lake Okeechobee, you pass through a sliver of western Palm Beach County. But it’s completely unlike the east side along US 1 and A1A.

Which is where we’re starting. There’s a bunch of sites in this part of the county, from very ritzy to very not.

Just south of Loggerhead Marinelife Center, but still in Juno Beach, is the Florida Power & Light Historical Museum. I think. It must be in the FP&L offices, but they weren’t open when I visited, so I don’t know what it’s like. The kinds of museums that are in corporate offices don’t tend to be very extensive.

Further down is the North Palm Beach Country Club. It grew out of the Palm Beach Winter Club, but I couldn’t find any old buildings when I was there. After some research once I got home, I discovered they had been demolished. I wasn’t surprised, as I’d found several other places similarly gone on the way up. More on them when we get to West Palm Beach.

Somewhere that still is around and quite worth checking out is John D. MacArthur Beach State Park. I exceeded my half-hour rule, but partly couldn’t help that. The park entrance is off A1A, and the parking lot is separated from the beach by a wide strip of water. It might be part of the Intracoastal Waterway. There’s a boardwalk that’s a third of a mile long that connects the two halves of the park. You can walk it, or take a shuttle that runs between them. I chose the shuttle on the way over. Once you cross, there’s a lush stand of trees to go through before you get to the long stretch of beach. I hung out for a bit, taking in the Atlantic. On the way back, I walked some of the boardwalk, since the shuttle runs at intervals. I caught one before I got halfway across. Much as I’m not big on beaches, I rather liked this park. When next I’m down south, I hope I can revisit and spend some more time there. (see Google map)

Back on the shore, go down US 1 to Lake Park and take a right on Park Avenue. About half a mile later, you’ll reach the city hall. The Kelsey City City Hall, that is, which is what the town was originally called. It was Florida’s first planned community, created in the early 1920s by developer Harry Kelsey. Sadly, the 1928 hurricane ended his dream of a huge development. He left the area a few years later and the town changed its name to Lake Park. I wonder if there are any other remaining buildings around from that era?

South of Lake Park, A1A and US 1 merge, and remain coterminous until you get to West Palm Beach. There are 14 NRHP districts in Palm Beach County, and 11 of them are in West Palm Beach. You’ll be going through two of them next, Northboro Park and Old Northwood, which are butt-up against each other. Those are often tricky for me, because I need to make sure the pictures are separated so I can categorize them properly on Wikipedia. But I figured out an easy solution a while ago. If I’m taking pictures in adjacent historic districts, I take a blank picture on the digital camera when I leave on and enter the other. You know, cover the lens and turn off the flash, so there’s a black photo. It’s worked quite well, I must say.

You can check out Temple Beth El, one of the FL 100 buildings. It’s unique among them, since it’s the only one that was moved from its original location to where it is now. Nearby is the Palm Beach Maritime Museum. Or a Palm Beach Maritime Museum, since there’s supposedly another one further south. Not sure if both are open, or they relocated and one is the old address. (see Google map)

I mentioned the 1928 hurricane earlier. I talked about one of the places where many of the victims were buried, in Port Mayaca. The Hurricane of 1928 African American Mass Burial Site is another. It’s been included in a nice park. I walked around some when I was there, thinking of all the lives so tragically lost over 80 years ago.

You’ll find other African American historical sites as you continue, in and around the Northwest Historic District. And just outside the district is an old railroad station, which Amtrak now runs. It’s in rather grand shape. (see Google map)

We’ll get into more of West Palm Beach in the next post. See you on the road!

Route length: miles

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Now we get to the final major stop on this trip, the DeSoto County seat, Arcadia.

I’d been looking forward to visiting Arcadia for years, ever since I first learned about the place. It sounded so rustic and it was in an area of the state I’d never been, though I’d been near-ish to it a number of times. It’s about 30 miles west of Lake Placid, so every time I went to or from Miami on US 27, I could have easily gotten there. The first time I visited, though, was unintentional. and Mom’s fault.

We were on our last trip south together in February 2010. Didn’t know that at the time, since Mom was feeling good, as she had for most of the year and a half since the diagnosis. Thank you, Hospice. It wasn’t until over a week later that she finally took a turn for the worse and had to go into a Hospice House, where she passed a month later. No, not a clue the end was so close. So we thoroughly enjoyed this trip.

My original plan was to get to Bartow around dawn, drive down to Zolfo Springs, then over to Sebring and up US 27 back home. But we made better progress than expected, and got to Zolfo Springs around 1 PM. I mentioned to Mom how I wanted to see Arcadia, but didn’t want to detour that far from my plans. She asked how close it was and I wasn’t sure. I thought about 30 miles. She said that since we had a good amount of daylight left (it was cold with clear skies all the way), why not go to Arcadia? Thing is, I didn’t have any maps of Arcadia with me, since I’d not expected to go there. But somehow Mom convinced me to deviate from my plans. I mean, I did want to go, and why argue with her, since things were going so swimmingly. So we headed down US 17. Then I saw a road sign saying it was only 20 miles to Arcadia, so we were in better shape than I thought.

There’s only one NRHP in DeSoto County, and it’s Arcadia itself. Much of the downtown and surrounding environs is a historic district. Since I had no map that first trip, I had to go with estimating the boundaries from memory. I knew the courthouse was in the district, so I went there. Also stopped at the nearby Chamber of Commerce, but it was closed. (see Google map)

  • J. L. Jones Building (10-14 North DeSoto Ave) (AGFHA)
  • DeSoto County Courthouse (115 East Oak Street)
  • Courthouse Annex (201 East Oak St) (AGFHA)
  • DeSoto County Chamber of Commerce Building (16 South Volusia Ave.)

Then we went downtown. I parked and walked around, taking pictures all over. Yeah, I left Mom in the car, but that was SOP on all our trips. I never stayed away long, not more than a half hour. She was fine when I got back. Probably the thing I liked best was the Arcade-Koch Building, which looked like something you’d find on Miami Beach. I drove around a bit more and took some pictures of houses I thought were within the district. When I got home and checked, I found out I was right.

I’ve been back to Arcadia twice since, with maps and additional information. Once down US 17 again and passing through, the other from the west on SR 70 and stayed the night. The second time I crossed the Peace River, then went north so I could see the old Peace River Bridge, which is in AGFHA. Also visited the local cemetery, where some WWII British soldiers are buried. Each time I was in Arcadia, I went to downtown and parked where I had the first time. I’d sit a bit and remember the good times Mom and I had, and thanked TPTB for helping her feel good for so long so I could have those extra memories of her and me on the road together. (see Google map)

After Arcadia, we went east on SR 70 to US 27 and north. Really liked this part of the trip, since it was 30 miles of straight open road and little traffic through mostly ranches. We’d be like, “Look at all the moo-cows!” She was 83 and I was almost 50 and that’s right, we said moo-cows. If we felt like acting like 12-year olds, we felt no shame in doing so. If more folks would let themselves be less uptight more often, I think the world would be a better place. It worked pretty well for Mom and me.

If you go west, you can get to Sarasota or Bradenton, but they’re both about an hour’s drive. An hour south will get you to Fort Myers. The nearest large city is Punta Gorda, which is about a half hour away southwest down US 17. About halfway there is the town of Fort Ogden. More than a road sign, since it has an actual post office. In front of which is a historical marker about the town. Go north up the road behind the post office and you’ll find a few reminders of the past. There’s a small cemetery and an old school, for example. There may be more; drive around some if you have a mind to. Won’t take long, since there’s not much of Fort Ogden. (see Google map)

That’s all for this ramble. More maudlin than most of the other posts, but this was the last problem-free trip I took with Mom, so I hope y’all understand. Until next time, then, see you on the road!

Route length: 80 miles

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So, where were we? That’s right, Fort Meade. US 98 splits off to the east here. But maintain your southerly course on US 17 and bye-bye, Polk County. Next you’ll hit Hardee County and Bowling Green. Which may or may not have any relation to the other one. There’s an old hotel on the corner of US 17 and Main Street, which is now home to the Bowling Green Youth Academy. If you park at the Dollar General nearby, you can take a walk around it. Then if you stroll east on Main Street, you’ll pass the most unprepossessing city hall I’ve ever seen, and an old railroad depot about another block on.

Get back in your car and drive east on Main Street until it dead ends into Lake Branch Road. South on that will get you to Paynes Creek Historic State Park. Inside the park is an NRHP, the site of Fort Chokonikla, built during the Seminole Wars. There’s nothing left of it, just signs in the sand marking the spot. There are trails through the park. Very open and scrubby, with some stands of trees. The visitor center was closed when I visited, so there may be information inside about the history of the place. (see Google map)

Back on US 17 and southward. The road is four-laned, with a wide median between the northbound and southbound parts. It’s very well maintained, and more what I’d expect to see near a larger city. I can’t imagine there’s that much traffic going through here, so why it’s like this I haven’t a clue. Makes driving easier, I’ll give it that.

You’ll soon be going through the Hardee County seat, Wauchula. A right at Main Street, and you’ll go through downtown and some nice old commercial buildings. Just past them on the left is the Hardee County Courthouse. I like the solid architecture, but the brownish-grayness does make it a bit bland. The old County Jail is behind, now used for local government office space.

Back the way you came and crossing US 17, the old city hall is on the left. Very nice condition, I must say. All along here is nice, since Wauchula participated in the Main Street Florida program. Whenever I get back down there, I may some aimless driving in town, since I suspect there’s some other neat stuff to see.

A couple blocks south is the only other NRHP in Hardee County, the Albert Carlton Estate. Which is, you know, a house and a few acres of land. It’s not fenced, so you can get close-ish to take pictures of the house. Still, it is private property, so you might want to take telephoto shots from the street.

Which is what I’d have done, if I was alone. But Mom was with me, and she encouraged me to get closer. I was like, "Mom, I could be trespassing and get into trouble." And she was like, "We’ll just tell them why you’re here." No greater love hath a mother for her son than being willing to use her terminal cancer to help her son take pictures of historical places. Yep, she was one in a billion. (see Google map)

Wauchula was one of those towns I wanted to visit due to its mildly odd name. The next town’s name is a bit weirder. Zolfo Springs. It’s believed the name came from Italian immigrants’ pronunciation of "sulphur springs", a feature in the area. Oh, and lest I forget, as you enter town you’ll cross the Peace River, which will be to the west of US 17 the rest of the way south.

You’ll pass by Pioneer Park, which is a heritage park like the one up in Homeland. There’s no admission fee, so it won’t cost you anything but time to go in and look around. If you go far enough in, you’ll reach the banks of the Peace River. If you have a kayak or canoe, you can take a relaxing trip along the river. (see Google map)

  • Pioneer Park (US 17 and 6th Ave. (or SR 64 and Terrier Drive)) (AGFHA)

If you go continue south, the road becomes two-lane and stays that way until you get to Arcadia in about twenty miles. Mostly farmland along the way. So whatever the reasons for US 17 being so expansive, they end in Zolfo Springs.

If you want to see one of the kitschy places that define Florida, though, go east on SR 64. Then south on CR 663 and west on CR 665. Look for the signs for Solomon’s Castle and follow them to the parking lot. A note, though. I couldn’t get to it the first time I visited because the parking lot was flooded. So if there’s been torrential rain recently, you mightn’t be able to get in. Otherwise, park and go witness the glistening home of Howard Solomon, Solomon’s Castle. He’s an artist and sculptor, so you can see his smaller works inside the castle. Which was made from printing plates that were discarded by a local newspaper. There’s a small restaurant there and limited lodging is available. Howard doesn’t do credit cards, so make sure you have the 10 dollars per person admission in cash when you go. And some extra in case you want to get souvenirs. (see Google map)

The most direct way to the next area on the itinerary is down Pine Level Road. The first mile or so is a dirt road, but not pot-holey or anything. You’ll get to SR 70 in about 10 miles. Then follow the map link below to see the remnants of Pine Level itself. Hard to believe this used to be a county seat, since there’s hardly anything left now. You can else check out what’s left of Owens, a small community in the area. (see Google map)

Next post, Arcadia. See you on the road!

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This is a melancholy trip for me, since it was one of the last I took with Mom. We did Bartow to Arcadia, then over to Lake Placid and up US 27. This will be about the first half.

However, we’ll start in Mulberry, which Mom and I didn’t go through. I got there about a year later. The only reason I went was to see the Mulberry Phosphate Museum, since that was a major industry in days of yore. I didn’t go in. Yeah, me and museums. There may be more to see there, but you’ll have to figure if there’s enough enticement to go there, folks. (see Google map)

Take SR 60 east and you’ll run straight into Bartow. It has 1 commercial and 2 residential historic districts, and several NRHP sites. They’re spread out somewhat, so there’s as much driving as walking involved. The county historical society is in the old courthouse, where you can learn more details regarding the area’s past. (see Google map)

Once done with central Bartow, head south on US 17/US 98. Before you get completely out of town, there are a couple more sites of historical interest. First is what’s left of South Florida Military College, which is now a private residence. Then there’s the Conrad Schuck House, which is one of the trippiest homes I’ve ever seen. (see Google map)

From south of Bartow to Arcadia the road is one of the most unmoving roads in the state. I mean, you can move on it. But it’s not especially thrilling, at least between inhabited places. Good for getting you from point to point, but scenical it ain’t.

Look for the sign for the Homeland Heritage Park and take a right at the light at CR 640. In a short bit you’ll arrive at the park. There’s a collection of historical buildings, some of which I’m sure were moved there. I’ve seen a few parks like this all over the state. Macclenny, for example. Amongst the buildings is the old Homeland School, which is on the NRHP. To me, the nicest thing is the old church.

When you go back to US 17, if you cross it you’ll find Mosaic Peace River Park. The Peace River parallels the road all the way down to Arcadia, and is on the east side most of the way. There are a few parks along the river, and this is one of the larger ones. There’s a boardwalk that’ll get you to the river, and it feels like you’re in a tropical rainforest. I rather liked it more than I thought I would. (see Google map)

Continue south and you’ll be in Fort Meade. A large part of it is a historic district. Quite a lot of neat old homes, so take some time and drive around. Don’t miss the old Christ Church, either. (see Google map)

  • Fort Meade Historic District (Roughly bounded by North 3rd Street, Orange Avenue, South 3rd Street and Sand Mountain Road) (NRHP)
  • W. Henry Lewis House (424 North Oak Ave) (PENDING NRHP)
  • Fort Meade Town/City Hall (8 West Broadway)
  • Christ Church (331 East Broadway) (NRHP)

Fort Meade is the last city you’ll be going through in Polk County. After this, you’ll go through 2 more counties, their county seats, and some other towns too. Bit like US 90, but flatter and less trees. But that’s all in the next post. Later, and see you on the road!

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