I have always been fascinated by doors, and I look for interesting ones wherever we travel. Interesting to me means that they have a unique texture, color, or design. Finding doors in South Florida that fit my criteria isn’t easy. Most cities here are built on a grid, with planned communities and houses that look very similar to each other. Developers have dictated the ‘style’ of each community for decades – Spanish here, Mediterranean there, Colonial, Cracker, etc. It is rare to see an entire community with custom designed homes displaying individual personalities.
Notable exceptions to the ‘cookie cutter’ box house neighborhoods are found in Palm Beach and St. Augustine. Early residential construction in those cities began around the same time period (late 1890’s early 1900’s) and were built by ‘moneyed’ northerners looking to own a summer cottage in Florida’s agreeable winter climate.
My favorite city to explore beautiful homes and gardens is Palm Beach, or ‘the Island’ as it is commonly referred to. At just 10 miles square, it is easily navigable – cross over the Flagler bridge from West Palm Beach and turn right or left. Either way is a treat. Home to billionaires, this little island welcomes us mere mortals to glimpse over the hedges – if we mind our manners.
Palm Beach is very walkable, but with a 5.5 mile Lake Trail, broad sidewalks and easy street riding, the best way to get around is on a bike.
Last week, Malcolm and I loaded our bikes onto the car and took the 45 minute drive south in search of beautiful doors.
Parking is easy, during the week, as Worth Avenue allows 2 hour free parking, there is a ‘pay lot’ just behind Tiffany’s, and street parking is easily available. We used a Parking App to secure street parking behind the parking lot for 3 hours. It cost $9.
Streets with names like, Hibiscus Avenue, Flagler Drive, Worth Avenue, Breakers Row, Peruvian, Caribbean, Cocoanut Row, Royal Poinciana, and Banyan hint at both the history and flavor of Palm Beach.
People who live in Palm Beach, either full time or as winter residents all have one thing in common. They love their privacy. Rightfully so, when you spend millions upon millions to live here you really don’t want looky-loos walking up to your front door every day taking pictures. Fortunately, they also like to ‘show off’ just a little and have created the perfect compromise between ‘keep out’ and ‘come on in.’ It’s the infamous door before the door. We get to see just enough of what lies beyond to feel satisfied without imposing. Another popular ‘element of seclusion’ is the perfectly manicured Palm Beach hedge. When it is below 5ft. (which is rare) I can see even more of these quaint little ‘cottages.’
Only one of the doors below is actually attached to a house. Can you guess which one?
Malcolm and I exhausted our 3 hour time allotment on the parking meter, as we clocked only about twelve miles on the bike odometer (that should tell you how many times we stopped to
gawk take pictures) and enjoyed a leisurely lunch break. It is impossible to be on this island at lunch time and not stop into the Surfside Diner. Actually, we called our order in, picked it up and brought it over to this lovely little shaded park that we’d never noticed before.
Palm Beach is a beautiful town and one day soon, we’ll show you more than just a few doors. It is also home to the famed Breakers Hotel, the Flagler Museum, Bethesda By-the-Sea and its awesome giant Kapok tree, Worth Avenue shops, trendy Royal Poinciana Plaza, the Chesterfield, the Brazilian Court, St. Edward Catholic Church and the Society of Four Arts.
This post is shared with Thursday Doors, a weekly challenge managed by Dan at No Facilities. If you are a door enthusiast, like me and hundreds of others, please visit his blog and join the fun.
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