Boynton’s Earliest Churches

Before Palm Beach County existed, most of southeast Florida was Dade County. Before the pioneers founded religious institutions, the community relied on the occasional traveling missionary for church services. Congregants gathered in homes and in shady

Bethesda-By-The-Sea Church - Palm Beach (Courtesy Florida Memory)

Bethesda-By-The-Sea Church – Palm Beach (Courtesy Florida Memory)

arbors, reading the Bible and singing hymns. As more settlers arrived, the families raised money, gathered materials, and built small local churches. Weather and fire destroyed most of the early church buildings, though one pioneer church built in 1894, the second Bethesda-By-The-Sea Episcopal church, still stands in Palm Beach.

In 1930-1940, the WPA (Works Progress Administration) surveyed churches throughout the state to chronicle the history and inventory the church archives. The WPA reported the Town of Boynton had seven organized congregations with church buildings, though few buildings were the original structures.

According to WPA records, Saint Paul’s African Methodist Episcopal Church (1900) is the oldest. The records designate Saint John Baptist (1909) as the second oldest, yet a comprehensive history of the Boynton Methodist Episcopal Church, South published in 2006 (First United Methodist Church of Boynton Beach, Florida: A Centennial Celebration: A History of the First 100 Years 1905-2005) is contrary to the WPA date of 1915 and supports the claim the Boynton Methodist formed in 1905.

Original WPA Notes scanned into Florida Memory

Original WPA Notes scanned into Florida Memory

Other early Boynton churches

Saint John Baptist Church 1909

Saint Cuthbert’s Episcopal Church 1923

Community Church 1926

Church of God 1936

New Mount Zion Church 1939

Methodist Church, 1930s

Methodist Church, 1930s

In the 1976 film, The History of Boynton Beach, one of the scenes shows scores of men, women and children exiting a church. As the church-bell chimes, people scurry across Seacrest Boulevard and gather in small groups to chat. The women wear lovely skirts and wear heels, with their heads covered by colorful hats. Nearly every gentleman wears a tie, and most are carrying a suit coat or sport jacket over his arm. Though today many church-goers don’t dress up as much, this idyllic scene is still repeated across Boynton Beach on Sunday mornings.

Today Boynton Beach and nearby unincorporated areas of Palm Beach County are home to nearly 600 religious institutions. The Boynton Beach Historical Society would like to add to its knowledge base and archive with information including primary documents and photographs of each church. To contribute to the history, please email us at boyntonhistory@gmail.com.

No hurly-burly in Boynton!

As I was watching television this morning, a reporter was describing the village of Bucklebury, where the royal baby is, as being away from the “hurly-burly” of London. To my mind immediately came an old advertisement for the Boynton Hotel, which said that the Boynton Hotel was “away from the hurly-burly of large, fashionable hotels.”

Boynton Hotel ad from 1899

Boynton Hotel ad from 1899

So who could have written the ad with the somewhat British expression? It very well could have been Albert Edward Parker, who managed the hotel for many years. He was Major Nathan S. Boynton’s son-in-law, married to his daughter Anna. The only known picture of them was taken at the Boynton Woman’s Club dedication in 1932. Parker was a native of England, born in 1873 who emigrated to America in 1886.

A.E. Parker also has a special spot in Palm Beach County’s history as the first naturalized citizen, sworn in on the day that Palm Beach County became official, July 1, 1909. Parker managed the hotel until the early 1920s, and also had the first dairy in Boynton, the Bertana farm, which was a combination of his first name and Anna’s. He went by the name “Bert” among his friends.

Albert and Anna Parker, 1932

Albert and Anna Parker, 1932

He went on to become West Palm Beach’s city manager, and eventually sold real estate in Palm Beach. He built a beautiful Mediterranean-revival house on Flagler Drive (recently renovated). Albert passed away in 1935; he and Anna are interred at Woodlawn Cemetery in West Palm Beach.

Parker Gravesite

Parker Gravesite

Boynton’s Egg Circle

You can purchase farm fresh eggs in western Boynton Beach. Heritage Hen Farms (hidden behind the Publix Supermarket on Haverhill Road, west of Military Trail and south of Le Chalet Blvd) offers freshly laid chicken eggs, honey and goat milk.

Heritage Hen Farm

Heritage Hen Farm

During the 1920s, 30s and 40s, the farm was the site of Oscar Winchester’s “Flatwoods” pineapple plantation. Mr. Winchester was widely known as the “Pineapple King.”

HOME

If you have enough money, you can buy a mini-hen farm from the 2012 Neiman Marcus Fantasy Christmas Catalog for “just a drop in the bucket” – $100,000.

Neiman Marcus 2012 Fantasy Christmas Catalog Mini-Hen Farm

Neiman Marcus 2012 Fantasy Christmas Catalog Mini-Hen Farm

There’s one catch; cultivation of chickens and other farm animals are prohibited within the Boynton Beach city limits.

Not to ruffle any feathers, but that wasn’t always the case. Boynton once boasted a very successful Egg Circle.

In 1921, shortly after the town’s incorporation, a flock of Boynton Women organized a co-op for cultivating and marketing home-grown eggs.

Lake Worth Herald, Dec. 1 1921

Lake Worth Herald, Dec. 1 1921

Led by president Mrs. I.R. Funk, and Manager, Mrs. H.P. Smith, seven Boynton entrepreneurs went into business.

The Egg Circle presented an educational exhibit and promoted their egg circle production at the annual Palm Beach County Fair. (Note: George Graham Currie founded the Palm Beach County Fair in 1912)

Nearly 650 dozen eggs sold during the winter season. Because they didn’t put all their eggs in one basket, the women were able to sock away a nice little nest egg.

An Old-Fashioned Celebration

Early residents of Boynton and Delray celebrated Independence Day in ways very similar to the way we celebrate today. Leisure activities such as picnics, parades and swimming topped the list of events.

Parades have long been a big source of entertainment. In 1914, Delray and Boynton teamed up to hold a big 4th of July celebration. Decorated floats like this one paying homage to the principal crop, the tomato, paraded down the street.

Image courtesy State Archives of Florida/Florida Memory 31747

Image courtesy State Archives of Florida/Florida Memory 31747

The Boynton Inlet and the Boynton Casino were popular places for celebrating Independence Day. Games and contests were held along with a friendly game of baseball.  Each family packed a picnic basket with homemade treats like fried chicken, coconut cake and fresh pineapple.

Families would walk from town over the bridge carrying covered dishes and the baskets full of goodies. Children played in sand and surf and danced in the waves.

Image courtesy Historical Society of Palm Beach County archive.

Image courtesy Historical Society of Palm Beach County archive.

Watermelon was and still is a popular menu item with people of all ages. Here a group of Boyntonites feast on homegrown watermelon. The expressions on their faces reflect the merriment of the holiday.

Happy Independence Day from the Boynton Beach Historical Society!

 

 

 

The Boynton Beach Casino

Summer’s here….and the time is right….for going to the beach!! The Boynton Beach Casino served as a popular community gathering spot from its 1928 beginnings until 1967 when the city demolished the outdated buildings  to build newer public beach facilities.

Constructed during the FLorida land boom - opened in 1928

In the boom days of the 1920s, the Addison Mizner-style inspired structure on the ocean beach was completed on or before April 1, 1928. The stately open-air structure had a screened-in dining room and a vaulted ceiling that was trimmed with pecky cypress.  It was used as a recreational facility, a restaurant and for governmental purposes.

Mr. H.R. Farnham was the first custodian, who was assisted by his wife and lived in the apartment upstairs in the casino. He was responsible for the cleaning and upkeep of the grounds and building. He was also deputized as a special police officer to enforce the law which included prohibition of liquor on the grounds. The Farnhams also ran the concession stand.

 

Clipping from the 1939 Palm Beach Post

Clipping from the 1939 Palm Beach Post

Mr. and Mrs. D. S. Ross managed the facility in the late 1930s and early 1940s. According to the Palm Beach Post, in 1939 the city added a seawall and running water  to the buildings. The buildings had showers, locker rooms and bathrooms.

In 1946 Lucille and Otley Scott rented space in the casino and operated a restaurant. The Scotts glassed-in the tall, arched windows; using the hall for their restaurant dining room. The concession area became the kitchen, and the Scotts lived upstairs in the caretaker’s apartment. The Scotts used the casino until 1948.

Boynton Beach Casino 1960

Over the years families and people of all ages flocked to the waterfront casino and beach. Local residents celebrated picnics, barbecues, dances, award ceremonies and parties in style. In 1967 the city tore down the casino, much to the sorrow of town residents who had known and used it for almost 40 years. The city replaced the buildings with a small snack bar, pavilions, bathrooms and showers.

The beach is still used heavily by town residents and visitors, but the facility which provided a central focus for so many gatherings and community activities is gone forever.

For more information on the history of Boynton’s municipal beach please click here: http://www.boyntonhistory.org/wpcontent/uploads/2013/05/HISTORIAN_2007_N_8.pdf

 

For information on Boynton’s municipal beach today please click here: http://www.boyntonbeach.org/departments/parks/water_beach_access.php/#oceanfront