Palm Beach Doors

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.

Everything about this door is stunning to me. The dramatic height, stately pillars and adjoining vine-covered wall, little peak of bougainvillea cascading over the top

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.

First, the arched hedge and iron gate got my attention, and then I noticed the dark blue mosaic tile

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.

Thursday Doors

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.

41 thoughts on “Palm Beach Doors

  1. It sounds like a wonderful day out – that bike trail would have been a very pleasant pedalling experience and the distraction of all those lovely homes would have capped it all off (although that little picnic table in the park was pretty special too).

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  2. I agree with you about the opening photo. That’s beautiful. All of them are nice examples of gates of doors. Perhaps ‘outside door’ is more appropriate than gate in some cases.

    It sounds like you had a wonderful day. I like the idea of taking lunch into the park. Good idea in these times, or anytime.

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  3. Hi Suzanne, I am much more aware of doors since I began blogging and I see all of these interesting and beautiful photos of doors. In our city we still can see custom designed homes with unique doors. Ha, ha…there is another ‘the Island,’ how we refer to our Island. Mere mortals and billionaires also made me smile. I get it.🙂

    I read another post this week discussing street names and their history. An interesting observation, Suzanne, wanting privacy, yet showing off. Ahhh, the door before the door. Fun to explore Palm Beach with you and Malcolm. I look forward to learning more. I enjoyed all of the photos, especially imagining you and Malcolm sitting at the quaint picnic table. 🙂

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  4. Hi, Suzanne – I completely understand your lament about the lack of uniquely textured/coloured/designed doors near you. It is the exact same thing where I live. Highly unique doors are hard to come by.
    I love the shots of the doors that you have included here. Many caused a double-take. I originally missed the dark blue mosaic tile in the second shot until you mentioned it. Once I noticed it, I could not take my eyes off of it!

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    1. Hi Donna, cookie-cutter is the best way to describe most of south Florida. I am happy that Palm Beach and St. Augustine had the sensibilities and resources to preserve many of their historic homes. That mosaic was stunning. I wanted to walk up the sidewalk for a closer look, but one does not do that in PB, especially when one is already exceeding the boundaries of good taste!

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    1. Hi Paul, welcome to Picture Retirement. The whole of Palm Beach is maintained exactly like the gardens in these photographs. There is always a small army of gardeners diligently at work on these stately streets. Spanish and Mediterranean seem to be the dominant influence for style. I did see a few beach-side casual designs that I liked, but I have a feeling they were not built in the early 1900’s.

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    1. Jan, both Charleston, and Savannah come to mind for me also. The obvious difference is the absence of a front porch. No self-respecting Southerner would have built a home in the early 1900’s without one. I did mention that most of these were built by the Northern elite!! Just sayin’ 🙂 More like $$$$$, but still fun to play around for a day.

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  5. Suzanne,
    What a great way to spend time outdoors–bike riding, door stopping, and lunch. My favorite was the first one and, I agree, it probably requires lots of maintenance. It’s been since my college days that I visited “the island” and had no appreciation for the finer things. I visited St. Augustine recently and found the architecture there extremely interesting. Thanks for sharing! P. S. LOVED Cumberland Island. Joe

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    1. Joe, first of all, I am so happy that you loved Cumberland Island. I knew you would. Can’t wait to see your photos. Funny how our appreciation of ‘the finer things’ develops over time. I was in my twenties the first time I went there and I definitely didn’t get it. Now, we visit at least a couple of times per year. Christmas there is pretty magical. St. Augustine is another great Florida city that I can’ get enough of. Looking forward to your next post. Have a great weekend.

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  6. Lovely day and lovely shots, Suzanne. That area reminds me of the upscale part of Pasadena where I walked pre-Thanksgiving with our daughter and son-in-law. Enormous homes and fabulous gates. We live in an area in Arizona where most of the doors are the same or are sunscreen doors, so not much variety. Practical, though, and keeping the summer heat out is a high priority. Most of the areas here are that same type, so it will be interesting trying to find interesting doors.

    janet

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    1. I think of Arizona and Florida as being very similar in terms of residential areas. Both states are perfect for retirees seeking warmth and an active lifestyle. Homes built here in the past fifty years were built for comfort, not style. The intention is to reflect light and create breeze-ways. We use very little if any carpet in our homes and prefer natural stone or tile floors. Exteriors are defined largely by the landscape material, not the design of the house. It works for the environment but makes for a very bland presentation.

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  7. Palm Beach sounds like the perfect place for a leisurely and attractive walk, or bike ride. So much fun to get a feel for how the rich and famous live as well.

    For some reason, I can only see your first photo, which is a stunner of a door. The internet is shaky… I’ll keep trying to reload the page and hope I’ll get a glimpse of your other photos soon.

    By the way, when I started reading “Palm Beach is a beautiful town and one day soon, we’ll…,” I thought you were going to say “one day soon, we’ll move there.” 🙂

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  8. You picked a beautiful place to go for an outing. We’ve driven on the main road gawking at the mansions and even attended a wedding at the Breakers once. We were never able to take the time to really explore. Thanks for the tour!

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  9. Suzanne, Your bike outing with a picnic at that pretty table under the trees sounds perfect and this is a beautiful collection of doors. I haven’t been back to Palm Beach for a long time. Can’t wait till it’s safe to travel again. Thank you for the tour. #ThursdayDoors

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  10. I also have a fascination with doors…the older the better. Some new designs are also great. Sounds like you and Malcolm had a lot of fun photographing this chic neighbourhood. Beautiful doors 😄

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  11. All that sunshine looks amazing, Suzanne! You are so right about being able to find interesting doors due to cookie cutter planned neighborhoods. My previous neighborhood in Sacramento was not a door treasure trove and the wealth of manufactured homes in our rural area boast nothing good either. Palm Beach doors are gorgeous! You lucked out with those!

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