In 1979, in an effort to save the Town of Palm Beach’s historic resources, the Town Council adopted a Historic Preservation Ordinance. (Palm Beach Code, Chapter 54, Historic Preservation, Section 54-36), to study and protect Palm Beach’s most significant architectural achievements, ensuring that the heritage of Palm Beach would not be lost for future generations.
The new owner of the 1960 house at 144 Wells Road wants to have the house demolished to make way for a British Colonial house. It was designed by acclaimed Mid-Century Modern architect Alfred Browning Parker, who was inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright. The demotion request was sent to the Architectural Review Commission and the Town Council, and brought outcries from preservationists who feel the property is an "architectural gem" as it is. The Commission is now considering giving the property a landmark designation, even though the Town Attorney has cautioned that i could leave the town open to a lawsuit. Parker has offered to renovate the property, but the owner indicated he is not interested.
The Commissioners are also studying the possibility of giving two other properties landmark designations. They are 958 North Lake Way, designed in the mid 1970's by Modernist architect Richard Meier, and 977 North Ocean Boulevard, a 1965 John Volk British Colonial.
The Historic Preservation Ordinance directs the appointment by the Town Council of a Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC), comprised of seven members, six of whom must be Town of Palm Beach residents. The Commission meets monthly to identify significant structures, subject them to a set of objective criteria, and designate the most worthy as landmarks of the Town of Palm Beach. Properties are then proposed for designation. The staff studies the issue for later discussion at a public hearing. At the public hearing, the LPC votes on whether or not to recommend to the Town Council that the building under consideration be designated a Landmark of the Town of Palm Beach. The Landmarks Commission’s recommendation must then be ratified by the Town Council.
To be worthy of landmark status, a building must have an important historical association, or be an outstanding example of architectural design, or the significant work of a notable architect or master craftsman. The LPC also reviews changes and alterations to existing Landmark properties, issues Certificates of Appropriateness for work to be done, and oversees the Town’s Tax Abatement program. There are 246 properties, sites and vistas currently protected under the Historic preservation Ordinance of the Town of Palm Beach.
Undergoing renovations for the past three years, the building houses the Richard and Pat Johnson Palm Beach County History museum and is filled with exhibits (some interactive) relating to the history of Palm Beach County. The restoration project, begun in January 2004, reused original materials including limestone, granite, exterior windows, marble wainscot, mosaic floor tiles, wood flooring, doors, trim and hardware. 67% of the original exterior bricks were used. 76 original windows were used and 37 impact windows were custom designed to match. All original columns & capitals were used; column weight including plinth block is 30,600 lbs and support the portico roof above them. Base is granite. 95% of mosaic floor tiling is original and 215 sq ft of matching mosaic tiles were salvaged and used. 28 sets of original doorknob hardware were salvaged and installed on original and new doors of courtroom and main restored corridors. 1000+ sq ft of original maple wood flooring was found In the courtroom, removed and reinstalled in the east end of the courtroom and refinished. Matching maple wood flooring was installed to complete restoration of the courtroom floor. Designated as a
Palm Beach County historic site on September 27, 2005, the building is located at 300 North Dixie in . In 1916, one year after West Palm Beach Palm Beach County was formed from Dade County, its population was 5,577 and did not yet exist. A land sale boom period was in effect and real estate was sold at roadside offices and tents from Broward County Boca Raton to . Property values back then doubled and then tripled. Railroads and ships could not keep pace with the demand for building materials. Hotels began going up on the west side of the intracoastal waterway and the Palm Beach County market opened to middle income families who could not afford to stay in hotels on the island. The Grand Opening for the Restored Courthouse was held on March 15, 2008.