Lecture Series

Distinguished Lecture Series

What:  Primarily authors speak on historical books or events aligned with our mission, sharing the history of Palm Beach County, Florida, and the Caribbean. A light reception follows, with a book signing when appropriate. Authors’ books are available for sale in the Museum Store. The Museum is kept open to visit before the lecture and during the reception.

When:  Wednesday 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm

Where: Historic Courtroom, 3rd floor, 1916 County Court House, 300 N. Dixie Highway, downtown West Palm Beach. Free parking is available on lecture nights starting at 6:00 pm in the lot accessible from 4th Street that is across from the fire station.

Cost: Free for HSPBC members | $20 for non-members

Reservations: 561.832.4164 ext. 100

Click below for this season’s Distinguished Lectures.  *AS OF 3/13/2020, THE BALANCE OF THE SEASON’S LECTURES ARE POSTPONED.

Distinguished Lectures

2019-2020 Distinguished Lecture Series


Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Dr. Taylor Hagood, Professor of American Literature and Director of the Study of the Americas Initiative, Florida Atlantic University

     “Zora Neale Hurston: Writer of Palm Beach County and Florida”

     Recognized as one of the greatest novelists in American literary history, particularly on the Harlem Renaissance, Zora Neale Hurston has entranced countless readers with daring, beautiful prose that explores the intricacies of voice in narrative. Hurston grew up in the all-African American town of Eatonville, Florida, and spent many years in Palm Beach County. Having studied under the great anthropologist, Franz Boas, at Barnard College, Hurston researched and wrote about timber camps in north Florida, voodoo culture in Haiti, and agriculture in the Everglades. She blended her research personal experience with a never-failing eye for meaningful detail. Hagood will discuss Hurston’s life, including her time in Belle Glade, and her works, from the obscure to her greatest and most famous book, Their Eyes Were Watching God.

Hagood has published six books and over forty articles in the field of American literature, including Secrecy, Magic, and the One-Act Play of Harlem Renaissance Women Writers, which includes extensive commentary on Zora Neale Hurston. His book Faulkner, Writer of Disability, won the prestigious C. Hugh Holman Award for best book in Southern Literary Studies.  

Wednesday, January 8, 2020
     Mary Adkins, Professor of Legal Writing and Appellate Advocacy, University of Florida Levin College of Law
     “Making Modern Florida: How the Spirit of Reform Shaped a New State Constitution”

     Florida recently underwent its third Constitution Revision Commission, adding a bewildering array of amendments. We citizens complained, but approved them all.  What was that process, and why do we have it? The answer lies in the history and politics of the 1950s and 1960s, and in Florida’s transformation in just a few years from a bastion of post-Reconstruction rebellion to a paragon of modern government. That change helped Palm Beach County go from being politically irrelevant to having the clout it deserved—even in the Governor’s Mansion. Based on her research of the 1968 Florida Constitution and its revisions, Adkins will discuss her book Making Modern Florida: How the Spirit of Reform Shaped a New Constitution (University Press of Florida, 2016).

     Adkins presents on Florida Constitution revision throughout the state and consulted on the most recent constitution revision. She has conducted numerous oral history interviews of Florida legal, political and historical figures, is a leader in national legal writing organizations, and is a vice president of the Florida Supreme Court Historical Society. Her next book is a biography of “America’s Lawyer,” Chesterfield Smith. Adkins earned her B.S.J., M.A., and J.D. from the University of Florida.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020
     Dr. Alisha R. Winn, applied cultural anthropologist and Adjunct Professor, Palm Beach Atlantic College
     “Historic Northwest Rising: Reviving the Past, Elevating Community, and Transforming the Narrative“

     Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1992, the Northwest Historic District was West Palm Beach’s segregated African American community from the 1920s to 1960s, when it represented economic and community success in education and business.  In efforts to restore its homes and historic buildings such as the Sunset Lounge, the West Palm Beach Community Redevelopment Agency established the Historic Northwest Rising Project to engage the community, rebuild the neighborhood, and preserve its history. Dr. Alisha R. Winn, a project consultant, describes the revitalization process and explores the residents’ perspective—a lens beyond historic landmarked experiences, identifying community pride and ownership, and transforming the narrative to a positive view of the neighborhood.

Winn is an adjunct professor at Palm Beach Atlantic College and an applied cultural anthropologist who consults in preservation and community building efforts for the West Palm Beach’s Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA), Habitat for Humanity, the Storm of ’28 Memorial Park Coalition, Inc., and the African American Research Library & Cultural Center of Palm Beach County, Inc. (AARLCC).  She incorporates anthropological knowledge to governmental, community, educational, and religious institutions on the social construction of race and its history, cultural belief systems and practices, and language, helping students and the public appreciate her discipline’s usefulness and relevance today.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020
Dr. Robert P. Watson, Distinguished Professor of American History and Director of Project Civitas, Lynn University
    “Hidden History”

     There is more that we do not know about history than we do know. Watson will share fun, intriguing stories about the process of historical discovery and the mistakes historians sometimes make. Fun detective work!

Dr. Watson is an award-winning author, having published over 40 books on history and politics, several translated internationally. He has been a frequent political commentator in national media and served as a visiting scholar with dozens of historic sites and co-founded the annual Truman Legacy Symposium for the Truman Presidential Library. Voted “Professor of the Year” at both Florida Atlantic University and Lynn University, Watson is sure to please our audience.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020
Eliot Kleinberg
History of West Palm Beach”

Born in South Florida, Eliot Kleinberg is son of journalist Howard Kleinberg and a graduate of the University of Florida. During his 30-plus years as a reporter with The Palm Beach Post, he also authored 10 books on Florida, including Black Cloud and Weird Florida I and II. Local residents have enjoyed his history column “Post Time” for decades, while readers statewide were introduced in 2019 to his “Florida Time” column.

Third Thursday @ 3 Lecture Series

What:  For those who prefer daytime activities, this monthly adult lecture series is designed to encourage members and visitors to explore local history.  The HSPBC is proud to partner with local restaurants to offer a discount on dining after each Third Thursday lecture. Vouchers are available at the lecture.
Lynora’s WPB | 207 Clematis St | 15% off entire menu | no time restriction
Rocco’s Taco’s | 224 Clematis St |  10% off entire menu | Valid immediately following the lecture
Banko Cantina | 114 S Olive Ave  |  50% off entire menu | must be seated by 6 pm
Pizza Girls | 114 S Clematis St |  15% off entire menu | no time restriction

When:  Thursday 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm

Where: Historic Courtroom, 3rd floor, 1916 County Court House, 300 N. Dixie Highway, downtown West Palm Beach.

Cost: Free for HSPBC members | $10 non-members

Reservations: 561.832.4164 ext. 100

Click below for this season’s 3rd Thursday Lectures. *AS OF 3/13/2020, THE BALANCE OF THE SEASON’S LECTURES ARE POSTPONED.


Third Thursday

Third Thursday @ 3 Lecture Series

Thursday, January 16, 2020
     Cynthia Kanai, Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens

     Cynthia Kanai is CEO of Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens in Palm Beach, which includes a landmarked house, gardens, and art collection.  At Palm Beach Day Academy, she taught for 25 years before serving as development director for three years. Kanai was awarded the William T. Dwyer Excellence in Education Award in Palm Beach County in 2012 and the Adele Shook Merck Excellence in Education Teacher of the Year Award in 2010. She holds a M.S. in Leadership from Palm Beach Atlantic University and a B.S. in Education from Cameron University (Oklahoma).


Thursday, February 20, 2020
     Cheryl Houghtelin, MacArthur State Park

     Houghtelin served as Executive Director of the Historical Society of Palm Beach County from 2000 to 2002.


Thursday, March 19, 2020
     Al Simbritz, Elliott Museum
     House of Refuge, Hutchinson Island

     Simbritz will discuss the history of the House of Refuge, the oldest building in Martin County, and how its preservation brought about the founding of the Martin County Historical Society and the Elliott Museum. Topics will include pirate Don Pedro Gilbert, who lent his name to the area of Hutchinson Island; the rescue and preservation of this last remaining House of Refuge; and the Elliott family, which made the museum possible. Simbritz is Education Coordinator for the Elliott Museum, where he has also served as volunteer and several staff positions, including Executive Director.  Simbritz holds a M.S. degree from Barry University in Leadership and Organizational Development.


Thursday, April 16, 2020
     Virgilia Viale Baird, West Palm Beach Public Utilities
     One Water

     The term “One Water” describes a comprehensive and long-term approach to community-based water management. From the origins of the West Palm Beach Water Works, to Flagler’s purchase of the Grassy Waters Preserve, to our present-day water, wastewater, and stormwater operations, One Water provides a fresh perspective on the City of West Palm Beach Public Utilities.  It focuses on the various facets of utilities operations and celebrates the connection between public health and the environment. Baird holds a B.S. degree in Environmental Science and Policy and a minor in Women’s Studies from the University of South Florida.  She joined the City of West Palm Beach Public Utilities Department in 2012 in the Laboratory Services division and currently serves as the Environmental Management Systems Coordinator.  


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