For Immediate Release
Holly Finch, Director of Advancement and Communications
(561) 832-4164 ext. 106


West Palm Beach, FL | April 26, 2018 – The Historical Society of Palm Beach County’s Annual Membership Meeting was held Tuesday, April 24, 2018, in the 1916 Palm Beach County Court House, home to the HSPBC and the Richard and Pat Johnson Palm Beach County History Museum. The meeting followed tradition, featuring presentation of the HSPBC’s annual awards, installation of new members to the Board of Governors, and the State of the Society address by President and CEO Jeremy W. Johnson.

A highlight of the meeting is presentation of the annual Judge James R. Knott Historical Contribution Award and the Fannie James Pioneer Achievement Award. The Judge James R. Knott Historical Contribution Award honors the achievements of an individual or organization that has contributed to the preservation, promotion or enrichment of Palm Beach County history. The award was established in 1989 to honor the late Judge James R. Knott, who served as president of the Historical Society from 1957 to 1969. Past recipients include Bob Ganger, Palm Beach Centennial Commission, L. J. Parker, Ineria E. Hadley-Hudnell, Dr. Reginald J. Stambaugh, Robert Hudson Neff, Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse & Museum, Harvey E. Oyer III, Flagler Systems Inc., Palm Beach County Board of Commissioners, Yesteryear Village, Henry Morrison Flagler Museum, The Palm Beach Post, Judge Marvin Mounts, Donald J. Trump, Eliot Kleinberg, Richard J. Procyk, Garden Club of Palm Beach, St. Paul’s AME Church West Palm Beach, Royal Poinciana Chapel, St. Edward’s Catholic Church, the Episcopal Church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea, Frances Bourque, Katherine Dickenson, James A. Ponce, Antonette Dennison PhD., Donald W. Curl PhD., Mary C. Linehan, Ambassador Earl E. T. Smith, Barbara Hoffstot and Bessie Wilson DuBois.

The 2018 Knott Award will be presented, by former HSPBC board chair Mark Elhilow, to architect Rick Gonzalez, AIA for his dedication to local history and his personal and professional contribution toward the preservation of historic buildings in Palm Beach County. Through his firm, REG Architects, Inc., Gonzalez successfully led the efforts to preserve the National Historic Landmark Mar-a-Lago, the Harriet Himmel Theater, the Cultural Council of Palm Beach County’s historic headquarters, the Lake Worth Casino, Boynton Beach High School, and the 1916 Palm Beach County Court House, which is the home of the Historical Society and the Richard and Pat Johnson Palm Beach County History Museum. For 18 years, Gonzalez has led walking tours of downtown West Palm Beach with thousands of tourists and residents to share local history as reflected in the architecture of the business district.

The Fannie James Pioneer Achievement Award recognizes achievements of individuals and organizations that have significantly contributed to preserving and sharing the history of Palm Beach County’s pioneering days. Established in 2003, the award is named for Fannie James, an African American pioneer and the first postmistress of the Jewell Post Office (now Lake Worth) from 1889 until 1903. Past recipients include the Lake Worth Pioneers Association, Helen Vogt, Marjorie Watts Nelson, Ted Brownstein, Janet DeVries and Dr. Ginger Pedersen, Everee Jimerson Clarke, the Loxahatchee Guild, Royal Poinciana Chapel, Ethel Sterling Williams, Michael Bornstein, Charles Hofman, Vera Rolle Farrington, Roy Rood, Robert Hazard, and Laurita Collie Sharp.

HSPBC Board Chair J. Grier Pressly III presented Wells Fargo Private Bank, Palm Beach the James Award for their restoration of three buildings in Palm Beach that represent work by famed architects Marion Syms Wyeth, Maurice Fatio and John Volk. Wells Fargo’s historically responsible restoration of the 1920s-era structures will endure as elegant examples of iconic architecture for the enjoyment of future generations.

The election and installation of officers and board members resulted in the following slate for 2018-2019: Thomas M. Kirchhoff, Board Chair; Ross W. W. Meltzer, First Vice Chair; Richard S. Johnson Jr., Secretary; Mark Stevens, Second Vice Chair; Carey O’Donnell, Deputy Secretary; Third Vice Chair, Jeffrey P. Phipps Sr.; and Thomas Burns, Treasurer. Joseph Chase was named Member at Large and Robert W. Ganger, Member Emeritus. Immediate Past Chair is J. Grier Pressly III, who received a standing ovation for his five years of dedicated leadership.

The Board of Governors for the 2018-2019 term includes Christian J. Angle, Thomas Burns, Sharon Daly, George L. Ford III; Lisa McDermott Perez, Karen Swanson and Keith Williams. Katherine Dickenson, George T. Elmore, Mark B. Elhilow, Dennis Grady, Karen Marcus and Penny Murphy were elected to the Board of Advisors for 2018-2021. Danielle Hickox Moore was elected as ex-officio for 2018-2021.

The Annual Meeting concluded with a viewing of the HSPBC documentary Landmark in Paradise. The new film chronicles the first century of the 1916 courthouse in the context of county history, with commentary by Jimmy Buffet, James Patterson, and Burt Reynolds. Partial funding for the documentary was provided by the Mary Alice Fortin Foundation.

Members and guests were invited to remain for a private reception and tour of the current museum exhibition, Shipwreck: Discovering Lost Treasures.

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