Louis Robert Perini, Sr.
Louis Robert Perini, Sr. (1903-1972) was born in Massachusetts, the eighth of ten children of Italian immigrants. His father, Bonfiglio Perini (1865-1924), was a stonemason who won large construction contracts in the eastern U.S. soon after his arrival in 1890. Louis succeeded his father as president of B. Perini and Sons, Inc., renamed Perini Corporation in the 1950s.
In 1955 the City of West Palm Beach purchased 17,000 acres west of the city limits to upgrade its sewer system, and in 1957 invited Louis Perini to develop the last 5,500 acres. Perini Land and Development Company purchased the swamp, known as Westward Expansion, and spent millions of dollars to make it buildable.
Louis Perini owned the Milwaukee Braves National League baseball team, which he agreed to bring for spring training to the stadium the city would build. When the team arrived in 1963, the stadium was unfinished and alone in the scrubland west of town; Perini provided Palm Beach Lakes Boulevard at his expense so the players and visitors could reach the site.
Perini built the first northern section of Interstate 95 from Okeechobee Boulevard to 45th Street, the Land of the Presidents golf course, Bear Lakes Country Club, the Villages of Palm Beach Lakes, and at the city’s request, a neighborhood for blacks only, Roosevelt Estates (The contracts prevented whites from buying to avoid slumlords, considered a great move by the city that helped avoid racial tension during the 1960s). He sold much of the property to others, who constructed the city auditorium, the Palm Beach Mall, and the Forum III office buildings. Perini’s son, Louis R. Perini, Jr. (1929-2000), was president of Perini Land and Development during the 1960s before succeeding his father as president of Perini Corporation in Massachusetts. By the late 1980s the Perinis had developed thirty-five percent of West Palm Beach.
In 1985 the City of West Palm Beach placed a monument to Louis Perini at the highest point in the Westward Expansion on the then-new Bear Lakes Golf Course. A former city attorney said of the project, “West Palm Beach would be just a nonentity today if not for that development. There is no developer that could have done what Perini did.”