After World War I, social life in Palm Beach expanded from the hotels to private clubs, including the Bath and
Tennis Club, Bradley’s Beach Club, the Everglades Club, and the Sailfish Club. Except for Bradley’s, they all are still in business.
Paris Eugene Singer was the 23rd child of Isaac Singer, founder of the Singer Manufacturing Company, and earned a Ph.D. and M.D. from Cambridge University. In 1917 he visited Palm Beach and rented “Chinese Villa,” a cottage on Peruvian Avenue at the ocean. Singer purchased the land of Alligator Joe, who had died in 1915, on the shore of Lake Worth and transformed it into the Everglades Club, designed by Addison Cairns Mizner, whom he brought to Palm Beach in January 1918.
During World War I, the only way to build anything was for the building to be used for the war effort. Singer thought Palm Beach was the perfect place for recuperating shell-shocked officers, and had Mizner design the Touchstone Convalescents’ Club. The war ended before the building could be completed, so it never served its original purpose. Instead, Singer opened it as the private Everglades Club in January 1919. The club became a popular daytime destination, allowing more informality than the hotels. By the end of the first season, membership was closed. Singer expanded the club’s facilities and added apartments, including a tower for his own residence.
Mizner’s revolutionary design—a combination of Moorish, Spanish, Gothic, and South American styles—created an instant demand for Mizner’s services and the look that was uniquely Palm Beach, called Mediterranean Revival.
In 1926 Joseph Urban designed the Bath and Tennis Club on today’s South Ocean Boulevard. The “B&T,” as much a social club as an athletic club, was originally open only in the winter and spring. Both Vanity Fair and Vogue used the Bath and Tennis as a backdrop for 1927 fashion layouts. Mrs. Edward F. Hutton (Marjorie Merriweather Post), who hired Urban to finish the design of her home, Mar-a-Lago, just across the street, enjoyed costume balls. The flamboyant Urban was an accomplished set designer and produced elaborate sets for parties at the Bath and Tennis Club that were sometimes recreated in New York for Post’s friends.
Organized in 1914, the Sailfish Club is the oldest private club in Palm Beach; it met at The Breakers Casino for many years. In 1932 the Sailfish Club of Palm Beach joined with the Palm Beach Anglers and Sports Clubs to become the Sailfish Club of Florida. They built a clubhouse and pier on North Lake Way two years later.
The Gulf Stream Club
As Palm Beach became more popular, a group of residents went looking for a new golf course
location “accessible by boat from the Everglades Club;” they purchased about two square miles located 13 miles south of Palm Beach on A1A. During 1924 the Gulf Stream Golf Club received its state charter and finished the golf course, designed by Donald Ross, and the clubhouse, by Addison Mizner. The initial suggested membership fee was $2,500. The first officers and owners included Paris Singer, Edward T. Stotesbury, William Gray Warden, Edwin Shearson, Charles Munn, John F. Harris, and John S. Phipps.
In 1925 the Town of Gulf Stream was chartered and several Palm Beach architects were commissioned for houses: Maurice Fatio, Howard Major, John Volk, and Marion Sims Wyeth. Although rumors spread of the “possibility of a rather heavy exodus from Palm Beach to Gulf Stream,” both towns continued to grow.
Brothers John Shaffer Phipps and Howard Phipps were heavy backers of the Gulf Stream Polo Club and its two 10-acre polo fields, which had its first regular season in 1927 and became known as the “Winter Polo Capital of the World.” By the 1930s, Gulf Stream was established as a winter resort for the wealthy; in 1938 the Gulf Stream School opened to educate residents’ children during the winter season.