Education at the Richard and Pat Johnson
Palm Beach County History Museum








1. Museum Tours
2. Lectures (click to scroll down)








 1. Museum Tours







The Museum is designed to be self-guided. To enhance your visit with a docent-led tour, contact Rhonda Gordon, Volunteer and Outreach Coordinator, at 561.832.4164 ext. 110 or email




 All tours and admission are free; donations are appreciated.




Tours are available on a first come, first served basis.
Tours last about one and a half hours.
Tours begin Monday-Saturday between 10:00 and 11:30 am and between 1:30 and 2:30 pm.  




When you call to schedule, please provide the cell number for the day of the tour, email address, two choices of dates in possible, and (for schools) the number of students/teachers/chaperones.




 Standard History Museum Tour:




This tour explores the Museum’s permanent People and Place galleries, the annual special exhibit, and the Historic Courtroom.
















 Mock Trial and Tour:




This tour combines a shortened tour of the galleries with a first-hand civics lesson in the 1916 Historic Courtroom that challenges students in advocacy, critical thinking, and working through life problems. Participants receive a script ahead of time for a case relevant to their world. This experience is exciting for students as they role-play as trial attorneys, witnesses, clerks, and bailiffs, while gaining a better understanding of law, court procedures, and our criminal and civil justice system. Advance preparation by students is required.












 Summer Camp Tour:




When school is out of session, we offer the Standard History Museum Tour (above) to summer camps, enhanced by fun activities. 







Schools: The Richard and Pat Johnson Palm Beach County History Museum 




is an approved SDPBC Field Experience Site meeting these state standards: 
SS.5.C.2.3, SS.6.C.2.1, SS.7.C.2.1, SS.7.C.2.2, SS.7.C.2.3, SS.7.C.2.4, 
SS.7.C.2.5, SS.7.C.2.6, SS.7.C.2.7, SS.7.C.2.8, SS.7.C.2.9, SS.7.C.2.10,
SS.7.C.2.11,  SS.7.C.2.12, SS.7.C.2.13, SS.7.C.2.14, SS.8.C.1.1, 
SS.8.C.1.5, SS.8.C.1.6, SS.912.C.2.1, SS.912.C.2.2, SS.912.C.2.3, 
SS.912.C.2.4, SS.912.C.2.5, SS.912.C.2.7, SS.912.C.2.8, SS.912.C.2.9, 
SS.912.C.2.11, SS.912.C.2.13, SS.912.C.2.14, SS.912.C.2.15




2. Lectures


      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 Historic Courthouse, 300 N. Dixie Highway, West Palm Beach. Free parking is available on lecture nights starting at 6:00 p.m., 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




2019-2020 Season


 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.


     Haygood 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, 2019 Tentative Date
     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
     Arlo Haskell
     “The Jews of Key West: Smugglers, Cigar Makers, and Revolutionaries (1823-1969)”


      Arlo Haskell will discuss his first book of nonfiction, The Jews of Key West: Smugglers, Cigar Makers, and Revolutionaries (1823–1969), winner of the Phillip and Dana Zimmerman Gold Medal for Florida Nonfiction from the Florida Book Awards, and the President’s Award of the Florida Authors & Publishers Association. Reviewer Raymond Arsenault wrote that the social history “introduces a fascinating cast of characters, revealing a unique saga of Jewish community life that no previous historian has chronicled.”


     Born in Key West, Haskell studied poetry at Bard College and was proclaimed Poet Laureate of Key West by city officials. He founded Sand Paper Press in 2003, which published his poetry collection Joker in 2009 and The Jews of Key West in 2017.  Haskell is executive director of the Key West Literary Seminar, which his mother directed during the 1980s and 1990s.




Wednesday, April 11, 2020 Tentative Date
     Eliot Kleinberg


     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




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).




Cheryl Houghtelin, MacArthur State Park




Al Simbritz, Elliott Museum




Virgilia Viale Baird, Wst Palm Beach Public Utilities






























































































































What:  Third Thursday @ 3 was initiated to provide a daytime option for those who want to learn more Palm Beach County history.  Attendees are encouraged to visit the admission-free Johnson History Museum on the 2nd floor before or after the lectures.
































































































































When:  3:00 pm on the third Thursday of each month during the season












































































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 p.m., in the lot accessible from 4th Street across from the firehouse.








































































































Reservations: Please call 561.832.4164 ext. 100.
































































































































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 6pm
Pizza Girls | 114 S Clematis St |  15% off entire menu | no time restriction
































































































































2018-2019 Season:
































































































































Thursday, January 17, 2019
Patricia Zeiler, Executive Director, Fort Lauderdale Historical Society
From a Fort to a City on the New River
































































































































Until the freeze of 1895, Henry Flagler was content with his Florida East Coast Railroad that ended in West Palm Beach. After that devastating winter, Flagler decided to expand his railroad south and sent his good friend Philemon Bryan to complete the railbed from Pompano Beach to the New River. Zeiler will share relationships that helped build South Florida and how interconnected the early settlements were, from West Palm Beach to Miami.
































































































































































































































































Thursday, February 21, 2019
Jamie Stuve, President & CEO, Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse & Museum
Elevating History:  The Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse Legacy
































































































































Known locally as an icon of Palm Beach County, Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse and its surrounding property is much more. One of only three nationally designated Outstanding Natural Areas in the country, this beautiful heritage site protects not only significant history and archaeology, but also rare Florida habitats, flora, and fauna. Protecting and sharing this rich legacy is the continuing and rewarding mission of the Loxahatchee River Historical Society. Stuve will shed light on how Jupiter Lighthouse became a national destination, and the Society’s vision for the future.
































































































































































































































































Thursday, March 21, 2019
Sara Ayers-Rigsby, Director, Southwest and Southeast Regions, Florida Public Archaeology Network
The Long Lens of History: Recent excavations at the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse Outstanding Natural Area
































































































































The Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse and Outstanding Natural Area has a fascinating history spanning thousands of years.  Archaeological investigations have identified continuous occupation at the site from before European contact through the Coast Guard’s use of the area through the 1980s.  The Florida Public Archaeology Network has been investigating recent historic use of the site through the program Shining a Light on the Past: Archaeology Bootcamp. Ayers-Rigby will highlight discoveries about domestic life and use of the site in the twentieth century.
































































































































































































































































Thursday, April 18, 2019
Kate Bradley, Archivist & Research Librarian, Henry Morrison Flagler Museum
An Enduring Treasure: Henry Flagler’s Whitehall
































































































































Henry Flagler, Florida’s most important developer and benefactor, set new standards for luxury travel in the Gilded Age with his railroad and hotels. Flagler’s legacy of grandeur and beauty lives on today in his 1902 Palm Beach mansion, Whitehall, which serves as the home of the Flagler Museum. As the museum celebrates the sixtieth anniversary of its founding in June 2019, Bradley will reflect upon the importance of this Beaux-Arts National Historic Landmark in the context of the Gilded Age, its rescue from demolition in 1959, and the preservation efforts and discoveries occurring today.































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































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