Ann Weaver Norton
Courtesy The Palm Beach Post
Ralph Norton hired Weaver to teach sculpture at the then new Norton Museum School of Art, where she taught for six years. She also created her own works during this time, for which she won four first prizes at Palm Beach Art League’s annual exhibitions and three at the Society of the Four Arts.
After Norton and Weaver married in 1948 he built her a studio in their gardens on Barcelona Road, West Palm Beach. After Ralph Norton died in 1953, Ann traveled extensively in the western United States and later worldwide, where she was greatly influenced by Eastern philosophies and became friendly with the Dalai Lama.
In 1965 Norton began the creation of the sculpture gardens at her home. Although her immense structures of stone and brick resembled rock formations and Tibetan shrines, Norton said they just “bubbled up from nowhere.” Her work was exhibited in museums in many cities, including New York, Rome, and Paris.
Norton met horticulturist Sir Peter Smithers in 1980, with whom she collaborated on the plantings in her 2.5-acre gardens, which feature three hundred species of tropical palms.
The former Norton home, designed by Marion Sims Wyeth, was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1990. Now operated as a public foundation, the Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens offer exhibitions and occasional workshops. More than one hundred of Norton’s works are on display in the house, studio, and gardens, including nine of her gigantic sculptures.