Welcome to America's Monte Carlo

The Beach Club shortly after its first expansion, ca 1905. This rare photograph from the Library of Congress has been digitally colored to reflect the the clubhouse as it actually appeared. Profits from the casino were used to finance Col. E. R. Bradley's real passion - horse racing. Bradley's Idle Hours Farm near Lexington, Kentucky produced four Kentucky Derby winners, three for the Preakness and two winners of the Belmont Stakes. The green trim and white walls, both inside and out, matched Bradley's racing silks.
   Color by Pat Crowley

The Beach Club, "America's Monte Carlo," was located in Palm Beach, Florida. The world's highest rolling casino operated illegally as a private club from 1899 til its closing in 1945 shortly before the death of its owner, Col. Edward R. Bradley. There are few written descriptions and no photographs of the interior. 

After Bradley died in 1946, the club was demolished, converted to a park and forgotten. "Welcome to the Beach Club" will lift the roof off of what the American Magazine dubbed "perhaps the most exclusive club in the world."

The  Beach Club as it grew from 1898 to 1924.

Despite fierce public condemnation, two raids - including one that netted John F. Fitzgerald, Mayor of Boston and grandfather of a future President, an embarrassing swindle by a conwoman, war, depression and a catastrophic fire that wiped out two neighboring hotels, the club prospered. And thanks to the Colonel's legendary generosity, so did the towns around it. 

NOT THE YACHT CLUB! There are lots of myths, misconceptions and mysteries about the Beach Club. Another version of this early shot of the club, dated 1914, reads "Lake Worth Yacht Club." And how did the the statue of the two children huddled beneath the umbrella end up in the yard of Mrs. Croker's estate, the "Wigwam?"

The first chapters of the story are linked in the column to the right. Watch the top of the column for updates and new chapters. Hop on a bicycle chair and wheel on over to the Club. And don't forget your membership card!