LANDMARKS PRESERVATION COMMISSION CONSIDERING DESIGNATION FOR THREE PALM BEACH HOMES
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.