Everglades Club

The Everglades Club is the preeminent, and most exclusive, social club in Palm Beach, Florida. When its construction began in July 1918 it was to be called the Touchstone Convalescent Club, and it was intended to be a hospital for the wounded of World War I.[1] But the war ended a few months later and it changed into a private club without ever opening as a hospital.

The Everglades Club
FormationJanuary 25, 1919
Purposesocial club, golf club
(not publicly available)
Key people
Paris Singer, Addison Mizner
Website(none, by deliberate decision)
Remarksdues are very high

The Club has no sign, no Web site, and no Wifi. Cell phones are prohibited.


Paris Singer (1867-1932) was an immensely wealthy man in the early 20th century. Singer's father, Isaac Singer (1811-1875), had invented the sewing machine and Paris Singer had an income of one million dollars a year at this time.[2]

Paris Singer and his good friend, the developer Addison Mizner (1872-1933), were visiting Palm Beach in the spring of 1918. Singer decided to build a hospital with Mizner as the architect. Singer had already built three hospitals in France for the wounded. It was during World War I when only war-related buildings could be built.[3] Construction began in July. (The site at the west end of Worth Avenue formerly contained Alligator Joe's, a tourist attraction.[4]) By November 1918 seven residential villas and a medical center had been built on the north side of Worth Avenue, across from the main building.[5]:43 Singer purchased laboratory and surgical equipment and fittings for an operating room.[5]:44 Singer sent out as many as 300,000 invitations to "eligible" Army and Navy officers, who had to be "screened" and had to be able to pay their own room and board.[5]:43, 47

However, World War I had ended, and most former soldiers wanted to go home. The hospital was reinvisioned as a private club; the medical equipment was donated to a hospital in West Palm Beach.[5]:47 There was a main building, eight separate villas, tennis courts, a parking garage across the street, and a yacht basin. The club opened on 25 January 1919. Paris Singer was the President of the club and he decided who could become a member. For its second season in 1920, Mizner supervised the construction of a nine-hole golf course and the landscaping of the club's 60 acres. He also built Via Mizner, an addition on Worth Avenue with eleven apartments and sixteen shops.[6]

Mizner's design for the Everglades Club was the biggest success of his career. The architectural impact "cannot be overstated."[7]:163 It helped establish a new architectural style for Florida.[8][9] In the club's first season Mizner received four architectural commissions. He went on to become America's foremost society architect of his era.[10]

Singer began his club with twenty-five charter members. The club was an immediate success. Two years later the membership was closed at 500 members.[11] Eliza Osgood Vanderbilt Webb (1860–1936) was one of its earliest female members.[12] Businessman Jack C. Massey was a member.[13]

An additional nine holes were added to the golf course in 1930.[14]

Today (2018)

The club deliberately does not have a website. Cellphones are prohibited on the property.[15] When journalist Ian Brown approached the club in 2016, an employee dressed "straight out of Dickens" intercepted him and, when asked, denied that it was the Everglades Club. Brown stated:[16]

And bingo, right there, you have the ultimate Palm Beach response, the ideal mélange of politeness and refusal, of manners and condescension, of give but give no more, whose implication is the town’s unofficial motto: If you have to ask, you don’t belong here.

Membership policies

The Club has long been criticized for alleged discrimination against Jews and blacks.[17] Sammy Davis, Jr. was turned away at the door.[18] According to socialite C.Z. Guest, she and her husband were temporarily suspended from the club after they brought Jewish guests — Estée Lauder and her husband — to a party there in 1972.[18] Joseph Kennedy, father of the slain president, resigned his membership in the early '60s "to avoid scrutiny for belonging to a club known for excluding blacks and Jewish people."[18] The hostility toward Jews was such that Jewish residents began a new club, the Palm Beach Country Club, in 1959.[18]

As of 2014 there has never been an African-American member.[19]:172–173 According to 2009 president William Panill, no black has ever applied. The Club now has Jewish members, but how many is unknown because, according to Panill, "we don't ask."[20] As another member put it, the current policy on Jews is "Don't ask, don't tell".[18] Panill admitted in 2009 that he receives inquiries about whether a member can bring a Jewish guest.[20]

Further reading

  • Rab, Lisa (July 23, 2009). "'Let Them Win': Tales of Life Inside the Everglades Club". New Times Broward-Palm Beach. Retrieved February 4, 2018.


  1. Curl 1984. p. 42
  2. Michener 1984. p. 8
  3. "Private Clubs". Historical Society of Palm Beach. Retrieved July 13, 2013.
  4. Skinner, Sara E.; @Palm Beach Post Staff Researchers (May 22, 2014). "Then and now: Alligator Joe's and the Everglades Club". Retrieved February 4, 2018.
  5. Curl, Donald W. (1992), Mizner's Florida, The Architectural History Foundation and the MIT Press, p. 7, ISBN 0262530686, First published 1984
  6. Curl 1984. p. 49
  7. Seebohm, Caroline (2001), Boca Rococo. How Addison Mizner Invented Florida’s Gold Coast, Clarkson Potter, ISBN 0609605151
  8. Curl 1984. p. 59
  9. "Mizner's Dream". Boca Raton Historical Society. Archived from the original on February 29, 2012. Retrieved July 15, 2013.
  10. Curl 1984. p. 60
  11. Michener 1984. p. 19
  12. Vanderbilt rehab a study in family memories, The Chicago Tribune, May 01, 2005
  13. "Business Legend Jack Massey Dies". The Palm Beach Daily News. February 16, 1990. pp. 1, 4. Retrieved December 17, 2017 via Newspapers.com.
  14. "Everglades Club - Palm Beach, Florida". Links And Lodging. Archived from the original on September 14, 2013. Retrieved July 13, 2013.
  15. Marshall, Barbara. "Inside the Everglades Club: the origins of Palm Beach style". The Palm Beach Post. Archived from the original on May 7, 2013. Retrieved July 12, 2013.
  16. Brown, Ian (2016-12-31). "A look inside Palm Beach, where wealthy Canadians are one degree of separation from Donald Trump". The Globe and Mail.
  17. Marshall, Barbara (April 17, 2011). "An exclusive look inside the mysterious Everglades Club". Palm Beach Post. Retrieved February 4, 2018.
  18. Rab, Lisa (July 23, 2009). "The Chef and the "Amigo"". New Times Broward-Palm Beach. Retrieved February 4, 2018.
  19. Silvin, Richard René (2014). Villa Mizner: The House that Changed Palm Beach. Star Group Books. ISBN 1884886744.
  20. Rab, Lisa (July 22, 2009). "Don't Ask, Don't Tell: Details on the Everglades Club's Policy Toward Jews". New Times Broward-Palm Beach. Retrieved February 4, 2018.
  • Curl, Donald W. Mizner's Florida. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press, 1984.
  • Michener, Edward C. The Everglades Club. (Palm Beach): The Everglades Club, 1985.

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