Integral to Palm Beach's colorful history were the organizations created during the '20s, '30 and '40s. Spearheaded by civic-minded residents, these organizations were developed to preserve and protect Palm Beach and ensure its integrity for generations to come.
One of the first was the Chamber of Commerce, formed in 1929 by five enterprising businessmen who wanted to ensure the island's high standards and preserve the social and business climates that make Palm Beach such an attractive destination - a town where trash is collected daily and ordinances regulate everything from the height of the buildings to the the height of the hedges. The late Jesse Newman, the Chamber's longtime president before retiring, was one of Palm Beach's most ardent protectors and most recognizable figures, both in social and business circles.
The Garden Club was organized in 1928 by 15 of Palm Beach's most influential women, who were concerned about protecting Lake Trail - an important part of "Old" Palm Beach - against pollution, and preserving the island's natural, lush beauty. Steel and real estate dynasty heirs Mrs. John S. Phipps and Mrs. Henry Phipps; Mrs. Federick E. Guest and Mrs. Alfred Kay, whose husbands were renowned banking icons; and Mrs. Edward T. Stotesbury were among the club's original members who, in 1935, raised funds for the planting of royal palms along three blocks of Royal Palm Way.
Their efforts continued in subsequent years, contributing substantially to the then new Civic Arts Associations' building project as well as spearheading beautification projects island wide. Today, the Civic Arts Association site is The Society of the Four Arts complex and library - a thriving cultural center that hosts both modern and classical art exhibits, and a lecture series as well. Celebrity speakers have included everyone from Prince Albert of Monaco and Pierre Salinger to Andy Rooney and Art Buchwald.
The Society is also home to Palm Beach's only movie theatre, with two small distinctions: Neither popcorn nor Hollywood blockbusters are served. The Four arts screen is reserved for the viewing of classic and art films.
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