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The 1940s and 1950s

The Norton Museum of Art was founded in 1941 at its present location on South Olive

Avenue, West Palm Beach, by retired Chicago industrialist Ralph Hubbard Norton (1875-1953) and his wife, Elizabeth Calhoun Norton (1881-1947), to share their sizable collection of paintings and sculpture. In 1965 the Oriental Gallery of the museum was robbed and most of the objects and a jewelry collection were taken. A year later, most of the jade was recovered, but the identity of the perpetrators was never discovered.

Across the Intracoastal, in 1947 The Society of the Four Arts purchased the Embassy Club from the estate of E. R. Bradley and hired Palm Beach architect John Volk to redesign the building for performances and exhibitions. Also in 1947, the Delray Beach Playhouse was organized; they performed in the city library, churches, and other public places until 1957, when they built a theatre on Lake Ida.

Philip Azzolina started the Boca Pops as a municipal band in 1950. His son, Mark, took over in 1970 and built the orchestra into the largest independent pops group in the nation. The Boca Art Guild also formed in 1950, with art classes and exhibitions held in Town Hall and the Boca Raton Hotel and Club. In 1962 the guild built a facility on Palmetto Park Road, which became the Boca Raton Museum of Art.

Royal Poinciana Playhouse opened in Palm Beach in 1958 for the winter season, managed by National Yeast Corp. executive Frank J. Hale. The first show, Holiday for Lovers, starred Bob Cummings, Ann B. Davis, and Dwayne Hickman.


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