Monday, July 11, 2011

July's edition of "The Florida You Don't Know"

          I have a picture on my dresser of myself at age three. Smiling shyly into the camera, I’m holding a glass Coca-Cola bottle almost half as big as I am in front of my cotton sun suit clad little body. Behind me is my Dad, impossibly young and slim, his hand on my shoulder, sitting at a picnic table. Behind us are the pine trees and grass lawn of one of my Mom’s favorite little parks. Situated just east of A1A a little bit north of where A1A splits off from U.S. Highway One at the southern border of Juno Beach, the park sits at the south end of a small lake. The Town of Juno Beach built its Town Hall at the northern end of the lake in 1991. The west side of the lake is lined with houses with backyards made of lake instead of lawn. To the east, a road runs along the lake and condominiums lie further east between the road and the ocean.
          Interestingly enough, this lake is not a natural lake. It’s another manmade feature of the landscape that was constructed so long ago, we’ve come to accept it as part of the scenery.  In an untitled manuscript typed by Charles A. Branch and located in the archives of the North Palm Beach Public Library and the Historical Society of Palm Beach County, Mr. Branch, an assistant to Harry Kelsey in the early days of Kelsey City (now Lake Park) reveals the truth.
Mr. Branch says that a Mr. Jules Basche used to walk the golf course at the Palm Beach Winter Club (now the North Palm Beach Country Club) for exercise. Basche spent quite a bit of time telling Branch about the golf course he and his friends (E.F. Hutton and Martin Sweeny according to were going to build just north of the Palm Beach Winter Club. Mr. Branch tried to offer his services as he knew the area pretty well by then, but Basche and his friends hired a pro from elsewhere (Donald J. Ross) and shortly after, construction on the Seminole Golf Club began. Unfortunately, the northerners knew nothing about the peculiarity of the high tides of the area and the following October, salt water covered many of the fairways -- some by as much as two feet.  Mr. Branch continues, “it cost them a million dollars to pump in soil to raise the Course above sea level… the spoil area did create the present Lake in Juno Beach.”
The park and the lake still exist today. The Seminole Golf Club sits comfortably above sea level and is a beautiful course still in use. You can easily drive by the lake and have a nice picnic at the beautiful little park, but the Seminole Golf Club remains a private club.
Ruth Berge grew up in North Palm Beach, Florida with her nose in a book and her feet in the sand. If there’s something about Martin or Palm Beach County you’ve been wondering, e-mail Ruth at and she’ll happily run to the history books and archives to dig for an answer to your question.

No comments:

Post a Comment