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Archive for January 7th, 2013

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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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