The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida on May 30, 1999 · Page 128
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The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida · Page 128

West Palm Beach, Florida
Issue Date:
Sunday, May 30, 1999
Page 128
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The Palm Beach Post SECTION F o(5? ST-1 MARKETS CLOSED jWt-rti' 4MtU fcWAt - -w) U.S. financial markets, government offices and banks will be closed Monday for Memorial Day. Domestic financial markets will reopen Tuesday 1930-1939: THE DEPRESSION YEARS SUNDAY, MAY 30, 1999 BUSINESS 1932: Lean times This cafe on Lucerne Avenue in Lake Worth offered 25-cent meals, which typically included a drink and dessert. It was still an indulgence for the average worker, who might make $6 to $12 a week. Rrofitin Museum of the city of Lake Worth iwMg" p- r . . ......... , , v.- : ,,-,. .,, .. -, . : .... .. 1 Palm Beach Post file photo fro: 1938: Looking up Business in downtown Lake Worth (above, Lake Avenue looking west) began to pick up in the late 1930s. The first Fountain's department store, which became a regional chain, opened here in 1939. in failure Bankrupt businesses became bargains for lucky entrepreneurs who had money to buy them. The best most businesses could hope for was simply to survive. By Julie Waresh Palm Beach Post Staff Writer How slow was business in the 1930s? So slow the clerks at the J.C. Harris men's store in downtown West Palm Beach could nap between customers. The retailer, which has occupied the same space on Clematis Street for 86 years, claims the distinction of being the only men's clothier in Palm Beach County to emerge intact from the Depression.. . .; ;.... v v, "Business was tough," said Robert K. Harris, grandson of founder J.C. Harris and one of four -Harris men who run the business today. "I remember my uncles telling me that, in between the khaki pants, they could lay down and go to sleep." By the early 1930s, I. Ife mmmmmm '"- - ; xs -"-" .- - -v Kj ) i AVIATION FLOURISHES: Commercial iSlli OOR CENTURY The Businesses Taking the century a decade at a time, the Post is looking back at how pioneer entrepreneurs set the table for today's businesses. The next installment runs June 27. the darkness that enveloped South Florida commerce after the late 1920s collapse of Florida's land boom had settled in for a long night. Gone was the sunny prosperity and optimism that had swelled Florida's population and bolstered its entrepreneurs. Survival became the order of the day. It was a decade that saw Lake Worth's glorious Gulfstream Hotel, which cost $600,000 to build in the 1920s, sell for its $25,000 tax bill on the steps of the county courthouse in West Palm Beach. The once-magnificent Royal Poinciana Hotel, tattered by age and by the hurricane of 1928, was demolished in 1935. About 4,000 people bought furnishings, lumber, plumbing and fixtures from the 41-year-old hotel, which had established Palm Beach as a resort destination when it opened in 1894. A 1935 story in The Palm Beach Post-Times estimated that 500 houses would be built from Royal Poinciana scrap, with salvage materials being shipped to the Bahamas and as far north as Maine. "They tore it down board by board and sold it," said Palm Beach historian Jim Ponce, whose own West Palm Beach home is built from Dade County pine from the Royal Poinciana. "Today, they smash everything up," Ponce said. "At that time, they didn't. We were in the throes of the Depression." But with economic adversity came opportunity for the few positioned to take advantage. Tiny J.C. Harris bought the mahogany display cabinets and fixtures that adorn the store today for 10 cents on the dollar from another local men's store that went under. Please see CENTURY2F mm1 1 "".' i i, and recreational aviation developed .-.' . t h "' county's first major airport opening r" . i in 1936. Palm Beach's Breakers" f v. noxei aDOveJ reupeneu in isd v , -following a fire. The Royal Poinciana,,"..( (far right) was demolished in 1935. 1 ' h V- "-S t A"' Historical Society of Palm Beach County ill i1 f1 Decade of highlights, low points U.S. Sugar Corp. SUGAR GIANT DEBUTS: U.S. Sugar Corp. was created in 1931 by Charles Stewart Mott (right), who bought the land and assets of the bankrupt Southern Sugar Co. m&M Historical Society of Palm Beach County RAILROAD FALTERS: Henry Flagler's Florida East Coast Railway was forced into receivership in 1931, blaming its troubles on tough economic times and competition from automobiles and the Seaboard rail line (above). 1930 The Pioneer Hardware and Furniture Co., the early Lake Worth retailer destroyed in the 1928 hurricane, opens on Clematis Street in West Palm Beach. 1932 Franklin Delano Roosevelt is elected president. His New Deal programs bring federal money to Florida and put residents to work on projects including the area's first major airport. Also, Palm Beach's Brazilian Court Hotel, built at the peak of the 1920s land boom, is sold at a foreclosure auction for $125,000. 1936 Morrison Field, which later becomes Palm Beach International " Airport, opens with inaugural Eastern Airlines flight to New York. Also, the area's first radio station, WJNO-AM (now 1040 AM), takes to the air. And Lake Worth's Gulfstream Hotel, which cost $600,000 to build in the mid-1920s, is sold for its $25,000 tax bill. The buyers invest an additional $25,000 and reopen the hotel within six months. . 1931 U.S. Sugar Corp. is formed in Clewiston from the land and assets of the bankrupt Southern Sugar Co. 1934 Florida's railroads, still the primary mode of long-distance travel, debut air-conditioned passenger cars. Diesel-powered locomotives arrive in 1939. 1935 Palm Beach's first resort hotel, the Royal Poinciana, is demolished. About 4,000 people buy fixtures, plumbing and building materials salvaged from the debris. Also, the Port of Palm Beach's channel is deepened to 20 feet and its turning basin is enlarged. Construction of the Intracoastal Waterway from Jacksonville to Miami, which began in the 1870s, is completed at an estimated cost of $9 million. 1939 Fountain's department store opens in Lake Worth. The Fountain family later opens six more stores from Fort Pierce to Boca Raton. 3 AY A " Lawyer, wife pay $5.9 million for manse sans water At $5.9 million, this Palm Beach estate has a magnificent water view, right? Wrong. Not even a drop, unless you count the swimming pool with rock waterfall. The 12,000-square-foot house on El Brillo Way was just bought by West Palm Beach lawyer Chris Lar-moyeux and his wife, Leigh. "We believe it's the highest price anybody ever paid for an interior property. It's not on the lake, not on the ocean, not on any water," said real estate broker Willy Hutton, who with his wife, Lynn Hutton, listed the estate. On the corner of El Brillo Way Ava Van de Water Real estate and Travers Way, the house is landlocked and landmarked. The Monterey Colonial-style residence was designed in 1935 by noted architect Maurice Fatio and built with bricks from the Royal Poinci ana Hotel in Palm Beach one of many Palm Beach estates that reclaimed materials from the 1893 hotel when it was demolished. The town noted the integration of architecture and landscape when it land-marked the house, which sits on a huge, by Palm Beach standards, 1.2-acre lot. The gated estate also has a tennis court and four-car garage. With all that lush landscaping and the ocean just down the street, who needs a water view? Please see THE S0URCE3F III... I .1 . 1 IP I u .i g . m f I MMII t At, Ill HI 1111 III ftmtn iiiiiltv'l.HIMtTMiUiMi1lnlrl Photo courtesy of Christie's The Larmoyeux home at El Brillo Way and Travers Way, built in 1935, is landmarked by the town of Palm Beach because of its architecture and lush landscaping. 1 w

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