Now We Know What's Out There in Palm Beach

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Feature Stories

Now We Know What's Out There in Palm Beach

Now We Know What's Out There in Palm Beach

Whenever traveling, I always try to explore parks and gardens I’ve never visited. Recently, while visiting family near Palm Beach, Florida, I decided to check out that town’s historic designed landscapes. For a place that’s so famous (think Mar-a-Lago or the Breakers), some Web surfing prior to my arrival yielded few results – just the Flagler Museum and a handful of consulting firms. Fortunately, the survey section of my personal library (which includes statewide surveys for Illinois, Indiana, Maine, and Rhode Island) has the wonderful publication Historic Landscapes of Florida by Rocco Ceo and Joanna Lombard (The Deering Foundation and University of Miami School of Architecture, 2001).

A quick review yielded the core of a half day sojourn: the opulent Flagler Museum, and its sublime Spanish/Mediterranean Courtyard, and the seven original demonstration gardens at the Society of the Four Arts (1938). Nearby, I discovered Addison Mizner’s Memorial Fountain Park (1929) in the heart of the town’s historic shopping district – one of the last projects of his career. (I suspect it was not an accident that the same year this project was completed the Garden Club of Palm Beach joined the Town in formally sponsoring the preparation of a Town Plan.)

What is remarkable about all three of these projects is not just the degree of integrity and authenticity of their surviving original designs, it’s the extraordinary commitment and civic ambition of both the original patrons and especially today’s stewards. To learn more, check out the new posting for each site on our What’s Out There web feature and do plan to visit these nationally-significant landscapes.