Archive for the ‘A1A’ Category

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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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You’re in northeast Volusia County now, and going through North Peninsula State Park. More to it than beach, but that’s probably what attracts most folks here.

There’s a small group of state parks of historic interest to the west. Two contain NRHPs, Bulow Plantation and Tomoka State Park (Nocoroco). Tomoka also has the Fairchild Oak, one of the oldest anywhere. See what happens to an oak tree that’s grown nigh unchecked for over 400 years. (see Google map)

Last stop this go-round is Ormond Beach. I don’t know if it’s considered a suburb of Daytona Beach, but there’s no clear demarcation between the two. My folks would take occasional getaways here. Probably helped that if you take SR 40 east from Ocala, you go straight into Ormond Beach.

Most of the NRHPs are near the beach, including the Casements, where John Rockefeller used to hang out. A sad loss is the Ormond Hotel, which was demolished 20 years ago. Only a cupola is left, which you can find in Fortunato Park, on the east side of the SR 40 bridge. It’s also a good place to leave your car to explore Ormond Beach east of the Halifax River. Particularly the fancy houses on North Anderson Drive, which you can’t park anywhere near. Before you get there, go to Cassen Park on the west side opposite city hall. There’s a boardwalk that goes out into the river and under the bridge. (see Google map) (see Google map)

Hope you liked this slice of Floridiana. Be safe out there, and see you on the road!

Route length: 55 miles (SR 207), 60 miles (US 1), 60 miles (A1A)

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After you’ve crammed in as much sightseeing in St. Augustine proper that you can, cross the Bridge of Lions to Anastasia Island. If you’re up for it and it’s sunny, climb the lighthouse to get a spectacular view of the area. See the Alligator Farm, one of the oldest tourist attractions in the state. Anastasia State Park has some great beaches, and inland are a few of the abandoned quarries where the Spanish and others mined coquina, the most prominent building material in St. Augustine.

If you get there on Saturday morning, visit the St. Augustine Amphitheatre parking lot for the weekly farmers’ market. See the Amphitheatre itself, if you can. It was built in one of the old quarries. The way you see the Amphitheatre now is not how it’s always been. It was constructed in 1965 to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the founding of St. Augustine. Open air with a wooden stage, it was the home of Cross and Sword, the official state play. Sadly by the 1990s, the play was no longer performed there and the Amphitheatre soon fell into disuse. Without regular maintenance, it really suffered from the elements. In 2002, the county bought the property and closed it. Several years and two million dollars or so later, this is the result. It is pretty, but I kind of miss the old stage. Oh well, the ups and downs of progress. (see Google map)

There are three main roads out of St. Augustine, each with their own attractions. They are SR 207, US 1 and A1A. Let’s look at State Road 207 first.

This is the road I usually take, since it’s the most direct from the middle of Florida, where I’ve mostly lived the last 20 odd years. Whilst researching this post, I totally stumbled across something I knew about but didn’t know happened here.

When I first got the NRHP bug, I learned more about certain chunks of Florida history. Like the 1920s land boom and subsequent bust due to the stock market crash. Which is why you’ll find lots of Mediterranean Revival architecture around the state, as it was a popular style at that time. Another period was the Second Seminole War, which predated the Civil War. I’d see mentions of the Treaty of Moultrie Creek, but never looked into it further. When I was looking at Google Maps recently, though, I noticed a green spot southwest of St. Augustine off SR 207. It was called Treaty Park. That piqued my interest, and I rooted around some more. Lo and behold, it was where the Treaty of Moultrie Creek was signed! Next time I’m in the area, I must visit and take photos of the area and the historical markers in and near the park.

I can remember when SR 207 was mostly two-lane and 55 mph. But it got widened a few years back, with the lanes doubled and speed limit in the rural areas at 65 mph. The only real slow spot is Hastings, and it’s 45 mph. Just north of there is the old Sanchez Homestead. When I first visited, they must have been doing renovations on the entire property. There was no fence at all, so I could get some halfway decent zoom shots from the road. I’ve checked it out more recently, and there’s foliage and no trespassing signs all around, so you can’t see the buildings at all.

Hastings itself has two NRHPs, the old school and the community center. The school is in use and well maintained. The community center, on the other hand, is in ruins. Honestly, there’s not enough of it left worth saving. Further east you can find another surviving bit of the old brick Dixie Highway. It’s several miles long, but not very drivable unless you have a jeep, since there’s deep potholes all along the way. But you can still get a sense of what it was from the initial tenth of a mile or so.

Next road to look at is US 1. There’s Faver-Dykes, a wildernessy state park. Pay attention, though, since the turnoff is easy to miss. You can see the Florida Agricultural Museum, which among other things has some buildings from the Strawn Historic Agricultural District in De Leon Springs. And there’s Cherokee Grove/Princess Place Preserve, an Adirondack style house in a county-run preserve. Further down US 1 you’ll wind up in Bunnell, the Flagler County seat. I’ll get to that in a bit. (see Google map)

Last but far from least is A1A. I mentioned it at the beginning of this series of posts as being very scenical. Which you’ll see once you traverse it. The first few miles south of St. Augustine are built up, but that diminishes as you continue into the more residential stretch. The speed limit is 45 mph for a while, which lets you see some of the semi-palatial homes along the beach. On the west side, though, is mostly grass-covered sand dunes.

Soon you’ll come to the entrance to Florida’s other national monument, Fort Matanzas. You have to take a ferry from the park to get there, but it’s free. Space is limited, though, so I recommend getting there early. The visitor center is a NRHP, very WPA.

Only a few miles south you’ll enter Flagler County and pass Marineland. It’s an old tourist attraction that sank into the doldrums for a while, but has been revitalized. Then there’s a state park I’m really fond of, Washington Oaks Gardens. The gardens are on the west side of A1A, and you can see coquina outcroppings along the beach on the east side.

After that, most of the rest of the way is tree-shaded, with sporadic buildings along the way. In Palm Coast is Bings Landing, a county park that contains the remains of the old Mala Compra Plantation, which has been excavated and is on display.

Further on the trees over the road go away and the hotels and condos replace them. Welcome to Flagler Beach. It’s strange, though, because I kind of like it here. What helps is that all the development is on the west side of A1A, leaving the beach open and the ocean visible until you get to Ormond. There’s a casual feel that you don’t find in, say, Miami Beach.

Fair warning: Beware of biker festivals. There are two biggies, Bike Week in March, and Biketoberfest in October. Which you should be able to figure out when that is. It’s not the bikers, per se, as they’re usually good drivers. But when you get bike caravans, it can make traffic more complicated. Groups of twenty or more choppers are common from here down past Daytona Beach and west to the central counties. Actually, Bike Week is worse, since it partly coincides with the crazy of Spring Break.

If you take SR 100 west, you’ll get to Bunnell. But before that, there’s a bridge over a waterway where you can get a rather splendid view of Flagler Beach. Better seen if you’re coming from the west.

So, Bunnell. It has two NRHPs. One is an easy-to-find old bank building. The other is the Vocational Agriculture Building. It’s on a school campus, so unless you come when school’s in session, you can only see it through a fence. There are several AGFHA listings, though a couple are gone. Another place that could have a historic district. Drive around to look at the AGFHA buildings, do the walking tour, and you’ll see what I mean.

  • Vocational Agriculture Building (1001 East Howe Street) (NRHP)
  • George Moody House (1000 Moody Boulevard) (AGFHA)
  • Hendricks House (802 Moody Boulevard) (AGFHA)
  • Dr. W.H. Deen House (805 Moody Boulevard) (AGFHA)
  • Holden House (across from courthouse) (204 East Moody Street) (AGFHA)
  • Flagler County Courthouse (205 East Moody Street)
  • George Moody House (105 East Lambert Street) (AGFHA)
  • Cochran House (202 North Railroad) (AGFHA)
  • Lambert House (200 North Railroad) (AGFHA)
  • Moody Residence (102 North Railroad) (AGFHA)
  • Old Bunnell State Bank Building (101-107 North Bay Street) (NRHP)
  • Tribune building (106 South Bay Street) (AGFHA)

Back on A1A, and before you leave Flagler County, you’ll go through Gamble Rogers Memorial State Recreation Area. It’s another state park that straddles A1A. Not as pretty as Washington Oak Gardens, but it looks to be more popular. I think in part because it’s easier to get to it. (see Google map)

Next up, Volusia County. See you on the road!

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The deeper into the heart of St. Augustine you get, the harder it is to find parking. Which is why the trolley tours (Ripley’s and Old Town) are so great. If you’re there only for a day, as I often am, just park as close to downtown as you can and be prepared for lots of walking. Which you should be anyway, but then St. Augustine is a very walkable city. The newer parking garage behind the visitor’s center is another option, especially in the summer since your car will be out of the sun. If you wind up visiting semi-regularly, you might want to get their ParkNow card. More info about parking possibilities here.

The last time I was in town (April, for the Taste of St. Augustine), I parked at the Nombre de Dios Church lot and spent the next two hours walking. No charge, but I’d recommend making a donation in the box at the bridge that leads to the Nombre de Dios site. You can’t miss it, just look for the 200 foot tall metal cross. It’s the estimated site of the first Spanish landing/settlement.

You’re betwixt two historic districts also, North City Historic District and Abbott Tract Historic District. Now you’ll be zigging and zagging the rest of the way. I’m just going to link to the sights below, because writing any detail about them would make this post go on forever. Plus there’ve been a gajillion books written about St. Augustine, many available in your local library. You can get much more information when you’re in town at the visitor center, which is a NRHP itself. Must-sees are the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument, St. George Street, King Street, and the Gonzalez-Alvarez House. Spend a weekend getting acquainted with St. Augustine on your first visit, and I think you’ll find yourself coming back again and again. (see Google map) (see Google map) (see Google map)

Next we’re heading for Anastasia Island. See you on the road!

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