History of Seminoles, Commons Park, community


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What do you know about where you live? This story is part of a series immerse yourself in original stories and fun facts about the towns of Palm Beach County.

Royal Palm Beach was once a hunting ground for the Florida Seminoles. Over time, this has become the stuff of dreams for home builders. Today it is one of the most diverse communities in Palm Beach County with a population of 39,000.

Here are seven things you might not know about Royal Palm Beach.

1. From Seminoles to speculators to the suburbs

It was the Seminoles who first claimed land in what is now Royal Palm Beach in the 19th century.

The Creek Indian Tribe, originally from Georgia and Alabama, spent years moving south to escape conflict over Indian territory and the jurisdiction of white settlers. Seminoles, which means “runaways,” moved further south with each war, eventually moving to southern Florida and to the turf near Okeechobee and Royal Palm Beach boulevards.

Several communities still bear traces of the tribe. Royal Palm Beach has no monuments, but Seminole Palms Park, Seminole Drive near the Village Golf Club, and Seminole Lakes, a gated townhouse community on Lamstein Lane named after the tribe.

On June 18, 1959, the land which was previously a Seminole hunting ground was incorporated as the village of Royal Palm Beach byan act of the Florida legislature. At a dedication ceremony attended by Seminole Indians, Chief Billy Bowlegs III denied any authority his tribe might have had over the land.

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2. What makes Royal Palm Beach so royal? Hint: look east

Royal Palm Beach takes its name from the dozens of royal palm developers planted along the boulevard that stretches throughout the village.

But former employees believe Miami developer Arthur Desser, the founder of Lefcourt Realty Corp. and the man who developed the first houses in the village, was inspired by the market value of the city name of Palm Beach.

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During the 1950s Desser purchased 3,750 acres that would become the heart of the village from Pennsylvania supermarket magnate Samuel N. Friedland. According to the Palm Beach County Historical Society, Lefcourt declared bankruptcy in 1961 and Desser resigned before the village was fully developed.

3. The willows that sprouted from the wetland

Although Friedland did not give the village his name, the Philadelphia supermarket mogul – he founded the Food Fair / Pantry Pride chain that dots the east coast of Harrisburg, Pa., In Miami-Dade County – he is responsible to shape the village and a neighboring community into what it is today.

His $ 1 million purchase of 56,000 acres of wetlands in the 1950s included The Acreage, an unincorporated community north of Royal Palm Beach.

It wasn’t until he took over from Desser and created Royal Palm Beach Colony Inc., a development company, that the village began to thrive, according to the historical society.

The remaining 52,000 acres were developed under the name The Acreage. Friedland sold each for around $ 5,000 – $ 95 down payment and $ 25 per month, according to the historical company.

In the 1980s the village had a Royal Palm Beach Boulevard that stretched north from Southern Boulevard, paved roads, single family homes, a lake, and a golf course, making it one of the communities in the fastest growing of its size in the country. .

Many single-family homes were built as part of the village’s first phase of development, known as the “colony”. These neighborhoods with streets with flowery names still exist today.

The development efforts of the Royal Palm Beach Colony Inc. have helped create other neighborhoods such as The Willows and LaMancha, near Southern and Royal Palm Beach boulevards.. The village now has nearly 40,000 inhabitants, many of whom live in some of the original houses built in the early 1970s.

4. Who needs New York? Royal Palm has its own central park

Just as Central Park is Manhattan’s outer sanctuary, Common Park is Royal Palm Beach’s.

The 167-acre park that debuted in 2013 is a collection of playgrounds, waterways, pavilions, a large lawn, a three-story common area and more. After a failed golf course, the space has been transformed, but residents can still practice their swing at the park’s golf training center.

Jason Robinson, Deerfield Beach, listens to swing instructions from Barb Bunkowsky, West Palm Beach, during a golf lesson at Commons Park in Royal Palm Beach.

Commons Park has served a number of purposes that benefit the residents of the village since its opening. Every Wednesday, it also serves as a food distribution site, in conjunction with Feeding South Florida, for more than 600 households. The park has also served as a community testing site since the COVID-19 outbreak.

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And last summer, it was a cultural hub, as the Palm Beach Shakespeare Festival presented “Twelfth Night” at the park as part of a “Shakespeare in the Palms” program.

According to Mayor Fred Pinto, the village has more parks per capita than any other community in the county, which has 10 acres of parkland per 1,000 people.

5. Are you looking for a diverse community? look here

Over the past decade, Royal Palm Beach has seen a growth in diversity and is now more diverse than West Palm Beach, a city with a population three times its size.

According to the 2020 census, Royal Palm Beach has a total population of 38,932 people, up 4,792 – or 14% – from 2010. Its diversity index – the chance that two people chosen at random are of a race or a different ethnic group – rose to 80, down from 64 in 2010.

Non-white residents make up nearly 59% of its population, totaling 22,932, according to the 2020 census.

  • Its Hispanic population grew to 10,502 in 2020, up from 6,950 in 2010.
  • Its black population stands at 8,855, compared to 7,738.
  • People of two or more races totaled 6,598, up from 1,109 in 2010.

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6. It’s time to celebrate The Wildcat Way

In 1983, Crestwood Middle School on Sparrow Drive opened as the village’s first public school, giving the first day of school new meaning for many students. HL Johnson Elementary Schools and Cypress Trail were opened for the next four years.

It was not until 1997 that classes began for 1,100 students at Royal Palm Beach High School.on Okeechobee Boulevard, the only public high school in the village.

Today, students and staff from past and present came together to celebrate the school’s 25th anniversary “wildcat style”.

Jesus Armas, who has been the principal of the school since 2010 and has been named by the Palm Beach County School District as Principal of the Year 2020, has announced that he will transfer to John I Leonard High School to be its new director.

At a board meeting in July, he announced plans for a one-year celebration to honor the school’s quarter-century milestone.

The first two events that will kick off the celebration will take place this weekend:

Today: Back-to-school football match, from 6.30 p.m.

Saturday: Alumni kickball tournament. Check-in starts at 10:00 a.m.

January 22: Country day with the old family

February 26: Alumni 3-on-3 basketball tournament

12th of March: Royal Palm Beach High School Banquet

For updates on the latest celebration plans, or to reconnect with old classmates, you can join the school 25th anniversary Facebook page, which currently has over 2,500 members.

7. As the name suggests, Royal Palm Beach is a Tree City USA community.

Since 1990, Royal Palm Beach has been recognized by the Arbor Day Foundation as a Tree City USA community for its commitment to urban forest management.

The trees along the village’s boulevards and in its parks make it one of the 3,600 Tree City communities in the country.

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To be considered a Tree City, the community must meet these four requirements set by the National Arbor Day Foundation and the National Association of State Foresters:

  • A tree board or a department.
  • An ordinance on the maintenance of trees.
  • An annual community forestry budget of at least $ 2 per capita.
  • An observation and proclamation of Arbor Day.

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