All Aboard! From the Hotel Royal Poinciana To The Breakers

The top photograph shows the trolley track at the south end of Royal Poinciana. Guests had the choice of walking across the island to the Breakers, middle, or taking the mule trolley. For years the only vehicles allowed on Palm Beach were the train, trolley or bicycle chairs. Click to enlarge! (Library of Congress)

From the Breakers to the Hotel Royal Poinciana

A stunning triptych taken by a Detroit Publishing photographer in 1900. This scene was taken from a perch on the Breakers casino looking west towards the Royal Poinciana Hotel. Click to enlarge!
The track, originally a rail line from the pier, (bottom picture) served as a trolley line for the popular mule-drawn trolley car. Guests could choose to walk along the Australian Pines (south side of the track) or among the palms (north side.) Click to enlarge!
(Library of Congress)


This is a hi-res scan of the hallway outside the Garden Grill.  It's hand-colored but a pretty accurate look at the color scheme of the hotel. A piano sits at the end of the hallway- one of several scattered throughout the hotel. Off to the right were the staff dining rooms and barber shop. Behind you is a large lounge and the front desk.



TOP: Silver spoon with alligator motif. A scene from the Lake Trail, just south of Whitehall, is etched into the bowl. SECOND: This spoon , featuring a pineapple in the handle, was available throughout the state. The word "Palm Beach" is etched into the bowl giving it a local flavor. THIRD: Another view of the Lake Trail, south of Whitehall featuring a sailboat. "Lake Worth" refers to the region. BOTTOM: A sterling silver spoon featuring an image of the Hotel Royal Poinciana on the backside of the handle purchased from the Greenleaf and Crosby store located inside the rotunda of the hotel.

The Garden Grill

The Garden Grill was located on the first floor just east of the front desk. The restaurant was "the most unique in America, with its hanging garden and patterres of flowers on every hand" (Palm Beach Life.) The Grill was a much more manageable size than the main dining room which could serve 1600 guests at once and covered 2/3 of an acre.
The top three pictures, A-C on the map, offer views of the restaurant from just inside the west entrance. The bottom picture- D on the map, offers a rare view of a public lounging area. A piano can be seen at the end of the hall.


Hypocrite's Row

A rare HRP survivor is the bar. Now located at Don Ramon's Restaurant (535 25th st. West Palm Beach) it served for many years at the late, great This Is It Pub.

Gentlemen (the bar was closed to women) could enter the bar from the hallway separating the first floor of the octagonal ballroom. Tea was served in the Palm Room for the ladies. There was a stockbroker's office and billiard room in addition to the bar for the men.

The discrete tipler could reach the bar via a secret hallway, affectionately dubbed "Hypocrite's Row," off the men's toilet.


May I Have This Dance?

The octagonal Ball Room had two levels. The first level- just up the stairs at the east end of the lobby, provided a hidden bar for the men - access could made by a secret corridor from the Mens toilet. Wags called it "Hypocrite's Row." More on that later.
Women met for tea and cakes across the hall in the Palm Room.

This is a very nice view of the Ball Room. The entrance is beneath the balcony/bandstand center. Note the electric lights trimming the ceiling. Today, worshipers at Memorial Presbyterian Church on Olive St. (West Palm Beach- a block north of the Norton Museum of Art) might be surprised to learn they are kneeling on this floor! The exterior of the church was built from bricks salvaged from the chimneys of the hotel after it was demolished. (Source: Palm Beach by Richard Marconi and Debi Murray.)

View of the Octagonal Ball Room from the southeast side of the hotel. Guest could step outside on the porch for a bit of privacy or fresh air.


Wish You Were Here

A rare view of the interior of the hotel. This is the Writing Room where guest can write letters and postcards to the folks back home.

The window to the right looks out over the piazza and Lake Worth. The "doorway" at the end of the room is actually a mirror. The camera is visible just outside the doorway (north end of the room.) A portion of a rotunda wall is visible behind the camera. Click to enlarge.
(Photo: Historical Society of Palm Beach County.)

Note the alligator motif of the flower vase! Click to enlarge.



What better image to send home to friends and family in the frozen North? The pier stood just at the south side of the Breakers and served as the area's first port.


Rooms With a View

The HRP as seen from the West Palm Beach docks at the turn of the century. Just out of sight at the far right is Flagler's Whitehall mansion. Midway between the north wing of the hotel (left) and the first flag is where the Slathouse stands today.
The north bridge, just out of view, was for trains only. It later opened to pedestrians and bicycle chairs. Passengers were carried from the little train station at the north end of the hotel to the main entrance by bicycle chair.


Send in your pictures!

There are no known pictures of the guestrooms of the Royal Poinciana Hotel. I'll be posting a number of photos of the public areas of the hotel but interior snapshots- the kind taken by the guests- are the Holy Grail.

Did your grandparents stay there? Share your pictures and ephemera and let's bring the Ponce back to life!

The Cocoanut Grove- Strike Up the Band!


 Northerners thrilled at the sight of magnificent palms of every kind covering the island. Here guests are enjoying tea and pastries in the Cocoanut Grove located on the southwest corner of the Ponce.

On the upper deck of the piazza, (top two photos) the hotel band serenades the guests with one of several daily concerts. Click to enlarge.