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Munyon Island 

James Munyon

James Munyon.

This narrow 15-acre island—since tripled in size by dredging—lies in a wide expanse of the Lake Worth Lagoon Estuary. The Seminoles called it Nuctaschoo (Pelican) Island for the abundance of wading birds that made it their home. A man named Rodgers lived in a tent on the island in 1884. The Nathan W. Pitts family purchased the island in 1892, added a two-story house, and developed it into a horticultural paradise.


An advertisement for Munyon’s Paw Paw elixir.

Advertisement for Munyon’s
Paw Paw elixir.

In 1901 James Munroe Munyon, famous for his Munyon’s Homeopathic Remedies, purchased the island from Pitts and operated the Munyon’s Island Post Office from 1903 until 1905, when the mail was sent to Mangonia. He built the five-story, 21-room Hygeia Hotel, a seawall, orchards, and groves. Hotel guests drank "Dr. Munyon's Paw-Paw Elixir" and bathed in a “fountain of youth.” The hotel burned to the ground in 1917. According to pioneer Lena Clarke, Captain Harry Gray and his wife ran a houseboat for Dr. Munyon from the island, which sometimes took moonlit trips to sea with a seafood supper. The island became a popular stop for visitors to Lake Worth.

A postcard for James Munyon’s Hygeia Hotel

A postcard for James Munyon’s
Hygeia Hotel.

When Boston entrepreneur Harry Seymour Kelsey purchased about 100,000 acres in Palm Beach County in 1919, the purchase included Munyon Island which he purchased from the estate of James Munyon. On February 22, 1920, The Palm Beach Post publicized Kelsey’s elaborate plans for a golf resort and 12-story hotel on Munyon Island to be called Palm Beach Harbour:


The island, on which the hotel will be situated, will be approached from the mainland over bridges; a causeway will connect the island with the oceanfront, Real gondoliers will sail upon the blue waters of the lake, and electric lights will brighten the trees and foliage. Smaller islands adjacent to the hotel will be connected by Japanese bridges.


Kelsey’s plans for Munyon Island never materialized. During the 1930s and 1950s, dredge material was deposited on the west side of the island during modifications to the Intracoastal Waterway, increasing the island’s size to 45 acres. The island was acquired by John D. MacArthur in 1955 and is now part of John D. MacArthur Beach State Park. A major restoration of Munyon Island’s natural habitat was completed in 1997.

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