Go West, Young Man

As Palm Beach County’s coastal ridge areas were being developed in the early  1900s, land speculators eyed the lands just beyond, along the pine ridge that started about where Military Trail is today. The land between today’s I-95 and Military Trail needed quite a bit of drainage, through the chain of lakes that runs from Lake Mangonia all the way south to Lake Ida in Delray Beach. This buffer area was quite swampy. The “Flatwoods” or pine ridge that runs  from Military Trail  to 441 was a little higher. The Palm Beach Farms Company bought thousands of acres of this land, and offered it up for sale in five acre (and larger) tracts. The company platted the Town of Lake Worth in the process, to offer a “free” 25 foot town lot if you bought acreage out west. Greenwood and Bryant owned the vast holdings, depicted as the shaded areas on this map – each square is 640 acres.

Palm Beach Farms Land Holdings in 1910

Palm Beach Farms Land Holdings in 1910

They had many takers for the land, yet much of it was not drained for many years, and was wet during the summer rainy season. Many acres end up in farming and dairying, and today of course it is mostly covered with housing and business developments.

The sales literature was filled with glowing reports, and quite frankly, some real untruths, such as this quote: “So dry is the air with an easterly wind that within a quarter mile from the sea a wet garment hung out in the breeze at night will be found quite dry in the morning.” Somehow Florida humidity and mosquitoes did not exist for the sales writer. They were unwelcome surprises for those early land purchasers.

In the process the company built Boynton Road and Delray Road – today’s Boynton Beach Boulevard and Atlantic Avenue as ways west out to the land. Cars and trucks allowed farmers access to the land, although the shell rock roads were slow going. The land boom was on.

 

 

The wilderness as seen in 1910.

The wilderness as seen in 1910.

 

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Casino served as a popular community gathering spot from its 1928 beginnings until 1967 when the city demolished the outdated buildings  to build newer public beach facilities.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