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Dr. Joseph Wiley Jenkins


Pharmacist Joseph Jenkins

Dr. Joseph Wiley Jenkins (1901-1950) was born in Summerville, South Carolina. He met and married Roberta Robinson (1907-2002) in Tampa, where she was studying, in 1929. Jenkins came to West Palm Beach to work with Edward Priestly at the Palm Garden drugstore, and in 1937 opened the Economical Drug Store at Rosemary Avenue and Fourth Street. Located in the center of the black entertainment district near the Grand Theater, the store became a popular gathering place. Jenkins ran the pharmacy until his death; Roberta operated the store for two more years. She had taught elementary school for forty years and was instrumental in establishing a local chapter of a sorority for black educators

In 1946 the Jenkins built a two-story house at 1117 Division Avenue, West Palm Beach, with columns and a balcony in the plantation style of Roberta’s native North Carolina. Building materials came from Winter Haven, Florida, and all the construction was done by black contractors. The Jenkins home became a meeting place for West Palm Beach’s black society.

The City of West Palm Beach bought the house to save it from demolition and relocated it to a vacant lot at 815 Palm Beach Lakes Blvd. After renovations, it opened in 2001 as headquarters for the Artists Showcase of the Palm Beaches, exhibition space for culturally diverse artists. "We're going to teach kids about their heritage through art," said Willie James, the museum's executive director.

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