The Club Opens

A rare photograph of The Beach Club as seen from the Lake Trail on the west side.  This photo, possibly the only one in existence, was taken by a passing tourist during the Winter season of 1899.  

The picture reveals an arched arbor leading into the original main entrance and the open air dining on the upstairs arched balcony.  The entire bottom floor seen here would eventually be completely encased as the building  expanded. When the building was razed a half-century later, the balcony was moved to an estate a couple of miles away and converted into a cabana. The cabana- still intact- provides an accurate standard of measurement used in my floorplans. -Pat Crowley

The floor plan of The Beach Club
 in 1899- the year it opened.
The bottom tan area depict the
 porches that faced west to provide
spectacular views off the
 sunset over Lake Worth.
    Unlike the gaudy gambling houses in Europe and Monte Carlo  the Beach Club could pass for a  small town public library. It’s most striking architectural feature  was a gabled roof over the original porch on the southwest corner and green striped canvas awnings.

     The Bradleys leased or purchased land just to the north of the Hotel Royal Poinciana. The railroad was still on the south side of the hotel. As luck would have it, when Flagler finished building Whitehall in 1902 his wife asked that the noisy railroad and bridge be moved. It was- a mile or so north. Now when passengers disembarked at the little train station next to the hotel, the second building they noticed was the Beach Club.

     Built for $3,500, the two story building measuring roughly 40 feet in the front and faced the lake to the west. The exclusive men's club looked more like the home of a well-to-do family. A large porch lined with white railings ran the length of the building.  Straw screens hung from the porch ceiling ready to be lowered to protect the guests from the harsh rays of the  setting sun. In the center of the porch was the main entrance to the club. An arched arbor, draped in begonias covered the porch steps and the top of the walkway that led all the way down to the lake trail.

     In the center, above the porch, a screened veranda with three arches extended eight feet out offering a view of the lake on three sides. Over the porch on the southwest corner a gabled roof with a smaller screened porch upstairs gave guests a view of the little rail depot and the massive Hotel Royal Poinciana just a thousand feet away. 

     It was a perfect location situated right in between the giant Poinciana to the south and the Palm Beach Hotel close by to the north. All day long guests from the two hotels strolled or rode on bicycle chairs past the fledgling club. 

Top- an autochrome picture of the Hotel Royal Poinciana (Detroit Publishing Company.)

Bottom- Guests pose in front of the Hotel Palm Beach. The Lake Trail is to the left. A bicycle chair is heading toward the Beach Club just a short distance away.

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