Black history month
This Week in History
West Palm Beach
World War II
The square building at the center of this photo is the Palm Beach Post-Times building on Datura in 1926. The view is from Dixie Highway looking East down Datura. The Harvey Building, still under construction, is in the background, and the West Palm Beach Fire Department and their equipment are in the foreground. (Courtesy of the Historical Society of Palm Beach County)
Oct. 23, 1961: Demolition nears completion on the old Post-Times building at 328 Datura in West Palm Beach. (Palm Beach Post staff file photo)
The Palm Beach Post gets a new building
July 1960: Aerial shot of the new Post-Times facility on South Dixie Highway.
Nov. 13, 1960: About 2,500 people attend the grand opening of The Palm Beach Post-Times’ new building. (Palm Beach Post staff file photo)
About 1,000 members of the public tour The Palm Beach Post-Times’ new building. The hooks hanging from the ceiling carried copy to linotype operators. (Palm Beach Post staff file photo)
In the composing room in 1960 (Palm Beach Post staff file photo)
L. Boswell works with a stereotype dry mat, part of the printing press process of the day. (Palm Beach Post staff file photo)
Journalists work in the newsroom as a maintenance man installs a sign. (Palm Beach Post staff file photo)
The copy desk the day after John F. Kennedy was elected 35th president of the United States. In those days the copy desk was also called the “U-desk” because of the shape of the desk (the boss sat in the middle to control copy flow). The term persists today. (Palm Beach Post staff file photo)
The Palm Beach Post-Times’ downtown Lake Worth bureau in the 1960s. (Palm Beach Post staff file photo)
Tags: buildings, newspapers, photos, West Palm Beach
This week marks the fifth anniversary of the day the courthouse was saved.
In 1916, when Palm Beach County had only 18,000 residents and Military Trail would have been considered “out of town,” it spent $135,000 — some $2.8 million in today’s dollars — to build its first courthouse, a 38,400-square-foot, three-story neoclassical structure that housed both courts and county offices. A 1927 expansion doubled the size of the complex.
By 1967, the post-war boom had expanded the county’s population. A study recommended a new courthouse. Instead, the county opted to expand. It tore down the courthouse’s iconic columns and plastered a “wraparound” that was finished in 1972, which created a 232,150-square-foot box. With more and more growth, the courthouse continued to groan under its added burden. A new complex opened in 1995.
But what to do with the old building?
As is often the case in a community with few roots, many endorsed just tearing down the monstrosity. Others begged to save it. In 2002, the county commission opted for the latter.
Over the next several years, workers painstakingly salvaged limestone, granite, marble wainscot, windows and mosaic floor tiles; even doorknobs. The original columns and capitals from both the 1916 courthouse and 1927 addition — 20 in all — had been moved to nearby Hillcrest Cemetery, in hopes that the courthouse would one day be restored. Stone carvers and masons hoisted the massive — up to 3 tons — columns back into place.
On March 15, 2008, the original courthouse, restored for $18.9 million, opened as the Richard and Pat Johnson Palm Beach County History Museum and home to the Historical Society of Palm Beach County.
In the museum’s first year, it hosted 15,665 visitors. The 3,500-square-foot complex tells the story of Palm Beach County. The museum’s collection includes 3,000-year-old spearheads,fine hotel china, dioramas and a replica of a pioneer house.
The restored, historic 1916 courthouse in downtown West Palm Beach serves as the home for the Richard and Pat Johnson Palm Beach County History Museum and the offices of the Historical Society of Palm Beach County. (C.J. Walker/The Palm Beach Post 2008)
The courthouse in 1916. (Palm Beach Post file photo)
Construction crew at the Palm Beach County courthouse, circa 1917. (Photo courtesy of the Historical Society of Palm Beach County)
The Palm Beach Post published a photo timeline of the courthouse restoration on March 13, 2008. Click on the images below to view larger versions.
Tags: building, museums, West Palm Beach
Nathaniel J. Adams Park at 568 15th Street in West Palm Beach was named for the man who formed West Palm’s first Boy Scout troop for blacks. He died at age 73 in January 1982. The park was named in 1983.
When Nathaniel J. Adams went to an awards program of the Exchange Club of South West Palm Beach in April 1976, he expected to see his daughter presented with an award. Instead, Adams himself was given the group’s Book of Golden Deeds award for community service. A resident of West Palm Beach, Adams served 30 years with the Gulfstream Council for the boy Scouts and had been active in several other charitable and civic groups. (Palm Beach Post staff file photo)
Click on the images above to view larger versions.
Tags: African Americans, parks, place names, West Palm Beach
That most glorious of arrivals — spring training — is now in full swing. Fifty years ago this weekend, spring training began in a new venue: the West Palm Beach Municipal Stadium.
Here’s an update of a March 2002 column:
When the stadium, capacity 4,200, opened in 1963, it was a modern step up from venerable Connie Mack field, now long gone and the site of a parking garage for the Kravis Center.
New England developer Louis Perini had bought the Boston Braves National League baseball team in 1947, moving it to Milwaukee in 1953. He came to South Florida in the mid-1950s to develop 6,000 acres of scrub west of downtown, and the match was a natural. In fact, he’d first planned to build a stadium for both the Braves and their American League counterparts, the Red Sox, but the Sox couldn’t escape a contract in Arizona.
When the Braves arrived at the $1 million park in West Palm Beach, it was still under construction and in the middle of nowhere.
Perini had to build a road from downtown. And with no trees or buildings around, blowing sand blinded the players.
But for a 23-year-old Braves ballplayer named Joe Torre, “It was a lot better than Way-cross, Ga.,” Torre — then manager of the St. Louis Cardinals and later skipper of the New York Yankees — recalled in 1993.
That small burg in Georgia was home to the Braves’ minor league spring training camp. This patch of dirt in Florida, as unpleasant as it was, was paradise to Torre. It was the big leagues.
The first game was March 9, 1963, against the Kansas City Athletics, who’d trained at Wright Field – later Connie Mack – for 17 years before moving to Bradenton.
The A’s won 3-0; the winning RBI came from the bat of, of all people, a youngster who’d grown up in Palm Beach County: Dick Howser. He’d go on to manage the Yankees and Royals before dying of cancer in 1987 at 51.
The Braves, who moved to Atlanta in 1966, began sharing the West Palm Beach stadium with the Montreal Expos in 1969. In 1997, the Jehovah’s Witnesses bought the facility, along with the West Palm Beach Municipal Auditorium. They kept the auditorium and knocked down the stadium. It’s now a Home Depot.
A night game at the West Palm Beach Municipal Stadium, believed to be from 1965. (Photo courtesy of THE CITY OF WEST PALM BEACH)
An aerial photo of the stadium from 1992, with West Palm Beach Municipal Auditorium (“the leaky tepee”) in the background.
Tags: sports, West Palm Beach
Undated Palm Beach Post photo of the Northwood Hotel building at the corner of Northwood Road and North Dixie Highway in West Palm Beach. Click here to see the current Google Street View.
We’ll take any guesses as to the date, but it’s probably somewhere in the early 1970s. City directories list the Reis Morgan 5 & 10 Store at 405 Northwood Rd. — right where it is in the photo — until 1975. Before that it was W.W. Mac Co. 5¢ to $1.00.
A 1925 ad in The Palm Beach Post announces the beginning of construction. Click on the image to view a larger version.
From The Palm Beach Post, October 1, 1925.
Tags: buildings, hotels, photos, Then and now photos, West Palm Beach