A campaign commemorating Florida's diverse cities.
Brought to you by the Florida League of Cities.
The Village of North Palm Beach was incorporated in 1956. Prior to that, the land changed hands numerous times. The first owner was Albert Sawyer, who passed away in 1892 and willed the property to his son. It was then sold to Barton Peck. Peck sold the deed for $100,000 to Harry Kelsey in 1915. Harry Kelsey was the founder of Kelsey City, now known as Lake Park. In 1928, a devastating hurricane hit, completely demolishing homes in Kelsey City, the Park Avenue shopping area, and Kelsey’s three timber mills. The Kelsey City Bank subsequently failed, and Harry Kelsey lost everything. He was forced to sell much of his holdings, including the land that is now North Palm Beach.
Sir Harry Oakes, a philanthropist and gold miner, became the next owner of the property. On July eighth, 1943, Oakes was mysteriously murdered in the Bahamas. Later on, local children were under the mistaken belief that Oakes had been killed in the Winter Club, and that it had happened in the old tower. The Winter Club was the Village’s first country club, built in 1925 by Harry Kelsey, with the aid of Paris Singer.
When the next owner, Albert Stolkin, defaulted on his payments, John D. MacArthur took the land. He had no interest in it, and sold it to Herbert and Richard Ross.
The Rosses had ensured that everything was well-planned before the Parade of Homes. A general manager of Utilities was hired, and the first Village Council was appointed. The first council members were Charles Cunningham (the Village’s first Mayor), Jay White, Richard Ross, John Schwencke, and John D. MacArthur. The first Chief of the Fire and Police Department was Albert Dudden. Before houses were built, everything was prepared. Seventy-five miles of sewer pipes were laid, twenty canals and three lakes were dredged, and the Village Manager, Albin Olson, was hired.
Plans were made by Pratt & Whitney, manufacturer of aircraft engines, to build a facility west of North Palm Beach. The facility opened after the Village’s 1956 Parade of Homes. Many of the homes were sold to employees of Pratt & Whitney.
In 1961, the construction of three churches began, and 244 homes were built. In 1962, the population of North Palm Beach hit 4,900. The total number of homes in North Palm Beach in 1962 was 1,283. Interestingly, Winships Pharmacy is the oldest business in North Palm Beach.
The new country club was built in 1963. The Winter Club was demolished in the 1980s, despite the fact that the building was added to the national registry of historic places shortly before its demolition.
The uniqueness of North Palm Beach has continued into the present day. Our Village upholds an atmosphere of community togetherness, which is especially important in these changing times.
In 1955, brothers Richard and Herbert Ross purchased the North Palm Beach area from John D. MacArthur's Bankerâ€™s Land (now called the MacArthur Foundation.) Principals of the firm North Palm Beach Properties, Inc. were Richard E. and Herbert A. Ross, John A. Schwencke, and Jay H. White. The Village of North Palm Beach was organized under Chapter 31481 Special Acts of the Florida Legislature Extraordinary Session of 1956. When North Palm Beach was incorporated on August 13, 1956, there were no residents, and in the absence of any voters a village council was appointed by the developers. The law called for the first election to be held in March of 1959. Two elected candidates would replace two of the appointed members. The first two elected councilmen were Walter Thomas and William Young. The next year, three new members were elected, thus filling out a completely elected council of five members. These three were Louis Aiello, Frank J. Hahn and Emery Newell.