Friday, November 5, 2021

A brief note about the new graphic for the masthead of the blog. . .

The new masthead is from a Sanborn Fire Insurance Map c. 1940 showing the vicinage about the Lake Worth Beach Casino building.

Noteworthy is the placement of A1A east of the building along the beachfront, location of the tunnel to the beach under the road, and the proximity of the Lake Worth Lagoon coastline to the building and pool complex. Due in large part to the damage caused by the 1947 hurricane and general post-World War II growth, A1A was relocated on extensive fill west of the building which is now the parking area. The re-alignment of the road also created opportunity for new land west of the relocated A1A (Ocean Boulevard) north of Lake Avenue.

This is also many years prior to the current bridge over the Intracoastal Waterway (constructed in 1973). Its alignment was to the south of the previous bridge. Other changes are the smaller size and location of the pool. The shaded portion of the building extending to the west contained locker rooms and was demolished sometime in the early 1970s after construction of the larger pool south of the complex.

Old Covers: Palm Beach Life magazine. Sunny images for just ¢25!

March 22, 1927:

January 12, 1932:

January 26, 1932:

Monday, October 25, 2021

Come watch Wes play the euphonium this Saturday!

Am honored to once again be a euphonist (one who plays the euphonium) for the Symphonic Band of the Palm Beaches. And this coming Saturday, October 30th, will be the season opening concert of the 2021–2022 season at the Duncan Theatre. The venue is located at the Lake Worth campus of Palm Beach State College just minutes to the west of Lake Worth Beach. Ticket prices and more details are below.

Was a member when I first moved to Palm Beach County some thirty years ago but left to pursue other endeavors. Several months ago began once again playing my treasured brass wind instrument and recently auditioned to rejoin the Symphonic Band. I passed the audition!

Would you like to come out and enjoy the music, from classical and jazz to marches and Broadway hits?

The concert this Saturday begins at 7:30. Individual tickets are $20 but the five-concert season rate is $85. Call 561-832-3115 or purchase tickets online at Note that proceeds benefit the band’s Youth Music Scholarship Fund.  


 “And how we’ve missed our greatest audience! To break out of the agonizing silence, we’ll raise the roof with ear- and eye-opening favorites from John Williams, R. Strauss, J. Strauss, Cole Porter, John Philip Sousa, plus a guest appearance by Lake Worth Beach Mayor Betty Resch.”

“The Symphonic Band of the Palm Beaches is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to musical expression and growth among its membership and local music students by providing public concerts, scholarships for talented students and grants to local public school music programs.”

Monday, October 18, 2021

2021 Florida CNU Summit: Lake Worth Beach takes the spotlight!

It was a pleasure to be a part of the three-day 2021 Congress for New Urbanism (CNU) Summit held in Palm Beach County from October sixth through eighth. The first two days were held in and around the downtown West Palm Beach area. The third and final day took place at the Social House right here in downtown Lake Worth Beach.

The organizers invited me to speak about the Cottages of Lake Worth Beach, introduce the honorable Mayor Betty Resch and then lead the urban planning professionals on a trolley tour of our historic districts and the City’s beach property.

Here is a narrative provided by the CNU organizers to promote my session:

Click on image to enlarge:


The organizers graciously permitted us to display and sell The Cottages of Lake Worth Beach hardcover book. Below is a tableau which includes Yours Truly (on the right) at the booth we staged inside the Social House. Janice Snearer (seated) joined us which is always an honor since I consider her as the coordinator of the book’s creation. Her name also appears on the cover, along with photographer Taylor Jones and the late Dean Sherwin.




These are a few candid shots of me during the presentation on the Cottages of Lake Worth Beach.

If your group would like to have me give a similar presentation to your neighborhood association or civic group, please contact me to make arrangements. Look at the top of the right-hand column of this blog for my contact information.

Thursday, October 14, 2021

The Symphonic Band of the Palm Beaches is back for the 2021–2022 Season!

The Symphonic Band performs in Lake Worth and in Palm Beach Gardens and the first two performances are coming up later this month.

Below is a press release with all the details.

“Welcome Back! The band is happy that we are all ‘TOGETHER AGAIN!’ ”

Press release follows:
Symphonic Band Kicks Off 61st Concert Season 

By Chris Horn

Overture, Curtain, Lights. This is it, the night of nights. And oh, what heights we’ll hit. On with the show, this is it. The Symphonic Band of the Palm Beaches is finally able to be “TOGETHER AGAIN!” with the community and wonderful patrons. The season opening program will be on Saturday, October 23, 7:30 p.m. at the Eissey Campus Theatre in Palm Beach Gardens and performed again on Saturday, October 30, 7:30 p.m. at the Duncan Theatre in Lake Worth.

Tickets are available by phone at 561-832-3115 or online at Tickets are $20 per show, or at a discounted rate of $85 for a full five-concert season. Proceeds benefit the band’s Youth Music Scholarship Fund.

As we come “TOGETHER AGAIN,” Maestro Mark Humphreys is calling upon great composers to entertain and enthrall, with selections by both beloved traditional composers and more modern artists. Pieces include names such as Sousa and his Free Lance March (On to Victory); and Strauss (times 2), with Johann Strauss II’s famous An Der Schönen Blauen Donau Walzer (the Blue Danube Waltz) along with Richard Strauss’ Also Sprach Zarathustra (2001: A Space Odyssey Fanfare). Believe it or not, these Strausses are not related.

Modern greats include John Williams: The Symphonic Marches, Henry Mancini’s Love Theme from Sunflower, and a six pack of Disney tunes by Japanese arranger Takahashi, Waltime Line. The program also includes other favorites, including Gershwin’s Strike Up The Band, Henry Filmore’s Miami March, and Cole Porter’s Symphonic Portrait.

As a special treat, the band plays a novelty piece by University of Florida Bandmaster Richard W. Bowles aptly titled Guest Artist, featuring Lake Worth Beach Mayor Betty Resch. Finally, as a reminder of how much we missed our friends in the audience, the band performs the Old Scottish Melody, fondly known as Auld Lang Syne.

Welcome Back! The band is happy that we are all “TOGETHER AGAIN!”

Monday, October 11, 2021

A drone’s eye-view of the Gulfstream Hotel.

The image below was posted to this blog in July, 2015:

Six years later. . .

Saturday, October 9, 2021

That vacant block, a long-time eyesore on N. Dixie Hwy. between Dartmouth and Cornell drives in Lake Worth Beach.

That prominent eyesore is located in the Lake Worth Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) district. It wasn’t always an eyesore. It was once a popular destination for residents and visitors alike, like World Thrift is today here in this City.

Who would have thought when World Thrift opened it would attract so many customers from the Town of Palm Beach and West Palm too? Across the street though is an empty lot. An eyesore.

That empty lot on one of our major thoroughfares — actually three lots which include 2302, 2314, and 2318 N. Dixie Hwy. — was once a thriving part of this region in Central Palm Beach County, the former Patio Coffee Shop:

Across the street from where the Patio Coffee Shop once stood, at 2401 N. Dixie Hwy. is where the former Park Avenue BBQ was located. That parcel is now a spillover parking lot for World Thrift, a very nice parking lot indeed, nicely landscaped and tidy. Meanwhile, across the street, the 2300 block remains underutilized.

Friday, September 24, 2021

On the agenda at this year’s CNU Florida Summit: The Cottages of Lake Worth Beach take center stage!

The City of Lake Worth Beach will be featured by the Congress of New Urbanism (CNU) at this year’s summit to be held on October 6th–8th.

Later in this blog post is a link for more information and to get registered.

The CNU, “is the nation’s most innovative and influential organization promoting the building and revitalization of great urban places. We are a multi-disciplinary organization comprised of architects, urban planners, developers, investors, engineers, academics, elected and career governmental officials, and citizen advocates.”

On Friday, October 8th the CNU summiteers will be visiting Lake Worth Beach. On the agenda is a walking tour of our historic cottages:

Click on image to enlarge:

Lake Worth Beach Mayor Betty Resch will be the day’s Special Guest. Wes Blackman will conduct the walking tour of the cottages.

For more information and to get registered for this year’s CNU Florida Summit click on this link.

Interested in learning more about the City of Lake Worth Beach and its historic cottages? The Cottages hardcover book will be available for purchase during the upcoming walking tour.

The front cover:
To learn more about the book use this link. The first edition was published in 2016; the second in 2017. Worth noting is another historic event in this City’s history in March 2019: By voter referendum the City changed its name to become Lake Worth Beach!

“We take a look back at the road that created Florida”, Post reporter Barbara Marshall wrote.

“100 years ago, Dixie Highway began winding through Palm Beach County, spawning today’s tourism industry.”

Dixie Highway is a historic highway in Lake Worth Beach.

Click on image to enlarge:

Does this lot look familiar? This is now the Gonz Auto Collision Center at 1401 N. Dixie Hwy.

And here is Gonz in the modern era getting with
the theme Lake Worth Beach!

Here is The Hulk in a Gonz Auto Club Car! Gonz has a newly updated website including new services.

Now back to the origin of Dixie Hwy.

Barbara Marshall at The Palm Beach Post published an article about the origins of Dixie Hwy. back in early 2016. It is easy to forget that the development of Florida is a relatively recent phenomenon. First came the trains, ushered in by Henry Flagler on the east coast and Henry Plant on the west coast of Florida. With the advent and mass production of the automobile in the early part of the 20th century the burgeoning middle class needed more and more roads for travel and leisure. That was the genesis of Dixie Hwy. — what we know as U.S. 1 — that goes right through the center of this City. The article details some of the old routes that made up the original road and where you can find other sections in Palm Beach County.

It’s true. Once upon a time this City had its
very own Chamber of Commerce.

This sign was at the corner of Dixie Hwy. and
Lake Ave., outside City Hall:

Further up north on Dixie Hwy. ‘back in the day’ was a popular restaurant called Christine’s. The structure survived. Most recently it was the Blue Front BBQ, an excellent example of roadside architecture from the Mom & Pop era when motels, small businesses, and restaurants lined Dixie Hwy.

Dixie Hwy. meant opportunity for the communities that lined it. Lake Worth (prior to the Beach) took advantage of that by having many motels, restaurants and attractions (including signs over the highway pointing travelers to the Beach, the Casino building, and the Gulfstream Hotel), all in the hopes of snagging dollars from tourists and create a local economy that could sustain the resident population. As you have read on this blog many, many times before, all that changed as the main source of vehicle travel switched to I-95 in the 1970s. Since then Lake Worth, and other cities to a lesser extent, have been trying to re-carve its niche in the “new” economy of the 21st century.

There are very few communities that celebrate their old historic roads that continue to exist and how crucial they were to early development. As a redevelopment effort and focus this City could consider designating a portion of the road as a Historic Highway. This might help attract tourists and visitors, classic car enthusiasts, history “buffs” and others just as Route 66 and now U.S. 27 in the State of Michigan are historic attractions.

The Palm Beach Transportation Planning Agency (TPA), to name one organization, could be the catalyst for this type of redevelopment and marketing effort. It has worked in other locations and we are already an attractive tourist destination. This would be another way to put us “on the map”.

Friday, September 17, 2021

Series of historic postcards of the Gulfstream Hotel

Two historic hotels in two downtowns. The Gulfstream Hotel stands tall. The Pennsylvania Hotel stands tall no longer.

Here is an excerpt from a Letter to Editor in The Palm Beach Post dated April 4th, 1994 written by “Wes Blackman”:

“It [the Pennsylvania Hotel] is one of the few remaining structures from the city’s glorious but fading past.

Click on image to enlarge: 

Gulfstream Hotel in the City of Lake Worth, the Pennsylvania Hotel, and the Belleview Biltmore in Belleair: What history teaches us about historic preservation.

Newspaper clipping, front page of Palm Beach
Daily News (aka, The Shiny Sheet), Sunday,
February 19th, 1995:

The process of demolishing the Pennsylvania Hotel began much earlier than 1995. There is a name for that. It’s called “demolition by neglect”.

Friday, September 10, 2021

Meet the final five candidates for city manager in Lake Worth Beach.

Here are the details for the upcoming event:

Click on image to enlarge.

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

The City of Lake Worth Beach in the Movies: “Body Heat.”

A friend let me borrow this DVD from her collection. She’s a big fan of film noir and likes this 80s version of the genre due to its setting. The movie Body Heat stars William Hurt, Kathleen Turner (many think that this film launched her career), Ted Danson, J.A. Preston and Mickey Rourke.

Two fictional towns, besides the real West Palm Beach (a city without a beach) and Miami, are settings for the movie. One of these is Miranda Beach which is where William Hurt’s lawyer character has his office (now called the City of Lake Worth Beach). The film was released in August 1981. Our heat and humidity nearly becomes the main character of the film. The combination probably played a role in the naming of the film.

You really need to watch the movie for the identifiable Lake Worth Beach scenes. You can check out what the downtown looked like back then. There are many other scenes but here are three recognizable glimpses of our past.

“Ned Racine”, actor William Hurt, with City Hall in the background. Click on images to enlarge.
A typical hot, humid summer day in “Miranda Beach”.

In this scene above, Ned Racine, Hurt’s character, is walking down Lake Avenue and we clearly see the current City Hall behind him. He eventually crosses the street and you can see a view east. Not sure if it was part of the movie set or not, but most of the buildings look occupied and there is a lot of street traffic.

His ‘office’ was somewhere in that first or second block east of Dixie Hwy. He also ducks into the former L’Anjou for dinner and he makes a comment about making enough money to eat there once a month if he doesn’t order an appetizer.

Note the makes and models of the cars in this scene:
“Ned” with a cigarette in hand walks down J Street.

The scene above is “Mr. Racine” walking north on J Street. I am guessing that the liquor store sign is where Propaganda is currently located. There is also a coffee shop called “Stella’s” which is home to a couple of scenes. Some people think that it was the former Junior’s at the southwest corner of J Street and Lucerne Ave. However it seems to be where the current AG Edwards office is.

In the picture below, you can make out City Hall in the background on the left. Notice the large glass storefront that is not there now.

Ted Danson in his earlier days as an actor:
Was this actually a coffee shop called “Stella’s” across from City Hall? Or just the setup for a movie scene? “Ned” is smoking another one. Inside the shop. Remember, this is circa 1980.

There might have been a coffee shop there. If anyone can confirm this, great! I really encourage you to watch the movie even if you may have seen it before.

Apparently, many residents were used as extras and you might see someone you know. It might be worth having a ‘PG13’ community showing of this movie sometime. Madison, Indiana shows Some Came Running, made in 1957, and is set in their historic downtown each year as part of a summer festival.

There have been other movies filmed here in the City of Lake Worth Beach too. One used the Gulfstream Hotel as a backdrop in 1984’s very unsuccessful Harry & Son, directed by Paul Newman. It was panned by the critics. One of the stars, Robby Benson, earned a Razzie Award nomination for Worst Supporting Actor.

By the way, other scenes in Body Heat were shot in Manalapan and Hypoluxo. Strangely, no scenes at all from Lake Osborne Drive.

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

“At first I thought it was a joke,” board member Phillip Spinelli said. . .

“[T]hey were dead serious, and then I was like, ‘Oh my God.’
It’s like calling the Vatican
Church Joey.”

Below is more recent history about the Gulfstream Hotel in the City of Lake Worth Beach many of you will find drop dead hilarious. And many long-time residents will recall a name or five from an old newspaper clipping published in the Post fourteen years ago. This clipping had to be cut and pasted the old-fashioned way for this blog because the news article in print spanned recto with five very short columns above the fold.

You’ll also note the spelling, “GulfStream” with a capital ‘S’ as some liked to title this famous landmark. The historic name for the hotel was ‘Gulf Stream’ (two words) and blended over time into one (called a portmanteau). The current and most commonly accepted usage is “Gulfstream” with a lowercase  ‘s’.

Without further ado. . .

Hope you enjoy this blog post about
“Frank discussions”.

Take special note of the date,
December 23, 2005:

“Frank” as in Frank Zappa? Frank Sinatra?
Or other famous “Franks”?

Column one under banner headline.
Click on image to enlarge:

CSC Lake Worth was the developer that owned the Gulfstream in 2005. The Great Recession began in 2007 and the rest is history as they say.

And the balance of the article by staff writer
Tanya Wragg continues. . .

“At first I thought it was a joke,” board member Phillip Spinelli said Thursday. “Then they were dead serious, and then I was like, ‘Oh my God.’ It’s like calling the Vatican Church Joey.”
     Spinelli, who said he otherwise thought the project was “a great idea,” added: “That may be OK in South Beach or downtown Clematis with a brand-new hotel of something, but this is the GulfStream. It’s a historic building.”
     During the meeting, which lasted more than five hours, CSC Lake Worth, which paid $13 million for the hotel in July [2005], asked the board to approve modifications to the 1925 structure. They include adding French doors and balconettes, reducing its units from 160 to 90, and demolishing three adjacent buildings.
     Hotel Frank would be a tribute to famous “Franks”, such as Frank Zappa, Frank Sinatra and comedian Frank Miller, said CSC Lake Worth President Adam Schlesinger, adding his attorney, former CRA board member Frank Palen, to the list.
     “Frank is such a great name and so many great people in American history have been named Frank. It’s (Lake Worth) a city that is receptive and warm to everybody,” Schlesinger said Thursday.
     Board member Jon MacGillis said he would have liked an emphasis on The GulfStream, rather than Hotel Frank.
     “The applicant did stand up and give a good explanation behind Frank,” he said Thursday. “Some board members were concerned that maybe residents would be offended by taking out the GulfStream name. It’s a new hip idea and concept they’re trying to float to attract a new type of clientele they see is in that area.”
     The announcement was made at an otherwise empty meeting, which only a handful of residents attended. The city might have seen more had the locals Schlesinger said he planned to pay to speak for his project showed up.
     Schlesinger on Wednesday confirmed reports he planned to hire local actors to talk for the project meeting. He said he went through an advertising agency to look for extras. He planned to show them the project. Then, if they were in favor of it, he’d pay them to support him at the meeting, he said.
     “We just want to get as many permanent residents as excited as we are,” he said.
     The historic board approved many of CSC Lake Worth’s modification requests, but deferred voting on the demolitions until February.
     Sharon Jackson, the city’s community redevelopment director, said the preservation board may negotiate on the name with CSC, which does not need the board’s approval for the name.

Thank You for visiting today and on a
more serious and somber note. . .

Excerpt from a Letter to Editor in The Palm Beach Post dated April 4th, 1994 written by “Wes Blackman”:

“It [the Pennsylvania Hotel] is one of the few remaining structures from the city’s glorious but fading past.

Click on image to enlarge: 

Gulfstream Hotel in the City of Lake Worth,
the Pennsylvania Hotel, and the Belleview Biltmore in Belleair: What history teaches us about historic preservation.

Newspaper clipping, front page of Palm Beach
Daily News (aka, The Shiny Sheet), Sunday,
February 19th, 1995:

The process of demolishing the Pennsylvania Hotel began much earlier than 1995. There is a name for that. It’s called “demolition by neglect”.