On Wednesday, January 23rd, the Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach hosted its second 1878 Series event for young supporters. Continuing the theme of properties significant to the early development of the Lake Trail, the event was held at the Little Red Schoolhouse in Phipps Ocean Park. Generously sponsored by First Republic Bank, the evening featured an al fresco dinner, complete with pioneer-inspired cuisine using local Florida ingredients, the Lubben Brothers, a local folk music trio, and conversations with “schoolmarm” Hattie Gale. The evening’s activities and convivial atmosphere evoked a sense of connection with the camaraderie of pioneer times. A highlight of the evening was the realization that several of the attendees had previously participated in the schoolhouse’s programming as children, and were excited to see the schoolhouse in an elegant dinner setting.
The Little Red Schoolhouse is the oldest remaining one-room schoolhouse in Southeast Florida. Constructed in 1886 by the men of the community, and furnished through the fundraising efforts of the Ladies Aid Society, the schoolhouse was an essential nexus of early pioneer life, serving not only as a school, but also a meeting house for religious services. Originally located north of the Royal Poinciana Bridge on the Lake Trail, the schoolhouse ceased operation in 1901 and the building was used as a tool shed on the John S. Phipps property. In 1960, the Gardener’s Society of Palm Beach and the Town of Palm Beach moved the schoolhouse to Phipps Ocean Park. Since 1990, the Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach has been funding and operating the Little Red Schoolhouse Living History Program for 4th grade students. This free educational program, held daily during the schoolyear, provides thousands of students from South Florida the opportunity to travel back in time and experience a typical pioneer-era school day complete with reading, writing, and arithmetic.
The Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach’s 1878 Series explores the origins of Palm Beach and its built environment through invitation-only events for young supporters at landmarked properties. In 1878, the Providencia ran aground off the coast of Palm Beach. Early residents were gifted 20,000 coconuts and barrels of wine. Much merrymaking ensued and the planting of the coconuts led to the name of the island. This formative event in the history of Palm Beach is memorialized in a hand-painted Portuguese tile mural located on the façade of the Foundation’s Headquarters on Peruvian Avenue.
The Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach is dedicated to preserving the architectural and cultural heritage and the unique scenic quality of the Town of Palm Beach. Through advocacy initiatives, educational programs, architectural resources, and cultural events, the Foundation’s goal is to encourage the community to learn about and save the historic sites that truly make Palm Beach special.
Since its founding in 1980, the Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach has raised millions of dollars to preserve and restore historic resources; advocated for the designation of over 300 landmarks; recognized dedicated owners and leading architects with awards; educated countless children about Palm Beach’s architectural, cultural and environmental legacy; and provided valuable resources to the community through its archives and publications.