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Using our secure payment system, for as little as $60 a year, you can enjoy the many benefits of being a Delray Beach Historical Society member! JOIN NOW »
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Explore the ESW Archive Learning Center

The Ethel Sterling Williams History Learning Center is open to visitors for history research and to view exhibits. EXPLORE NOW »
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Past and Present

When it was founded in 1964, DBHS set out to collect and preserve the stories, artifacts, and memorabilia from the area’s founding families to provide an authentic record of how we got started and where we are going. READ MORE »

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History of Carver High School


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Just before the turn of the last century, pioneering African-American residents in the fledgling town known as Linton were urging the county to educate their children.

At that point, what little schooling that existed was taught in a thatch hut.

Minutes from the Feb. 6, 1896, board meeting of the Dade County School Board (Palm Beach County would not be carved our for decades) note, “The patrons of Linton are pressing their claims for a school to be built at once.” The minutes further note: ”There are presently 25 children of school age.”

At that point, a resident named RR Frazier donated two acres of land “fee simple” near what is now NW 5th Street to the school board.

Thus was born School #4 Colored.

The school struggled mightily during its first several years and in 1907, School #4 Colored was closed for lack of attendance.

It would not reopen until 1915, under the name of Delray Training School.

Eight years later, at the urging of his mentor George Washington Carver, the renowned African-American agricultural chemist, Solomon David Spady came to Delray Beach to serve as the third principal of the school. At that point, the Training School had 100 students in grades 1-8.

Spady (1887-1967) spent the next 35 years as principal and teacher at the Training School and later, Carver High.

Under his leadership, the school steadily expanded. By 1934, the school had grown to 336 students in grades 1-10. It soon outgrew its building and in 1937 it moved to a new building on NW 8th Avenue and renamed George Washington Carver High School. The first graduating class came in 1939.

Spady retired in 1958 when the new Carver High School opened at SW 12th Avenue and SW 4th Street in Southwest Delray Beach. Today it is named the Delray Full Service Center.

Spady’s home at 170 Blacker Street (now NW 5th Ave.) was built in the mid-1920s in a Mission Revival style. It was also the first house in the neighborhood to have indoor plumbing, electricity and a telephone.

Today the building houses the S.D. Spady Cultural Arts Museum and is listed on the city’s historic register.

  1. Spencer Pompey arrived at Carver High around the opening of the new school. He served as a coach and social studies teacher for many years and was a prominent civil rights activist.

Pompey (1915-2001) fought for equal salaries between white and black teachers, protested Delray Beach’s whites-only beach in the 1950s and pushed for the first organized recreation programs for the city’s black children.

He helped organize the first African-American teachers’ union and was one of three black teachers who filed a class-action lawsuit in 1942 against the Palm Beach County School Board protesting a $25-per-month difference in the salaries of white and black teachers.

The lawyer in the case: A young NAACP attorney named Thurgood Marshall, who won and went on to become the first African American on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Carver became one of the state’s football powerhouses. Between 1947 and 1963, the Eagles won many conference titles and three straight state titles in 1961-1963. The 1962 team shut out eight of its 10 opponents and the other two scored but 19 points combined.

The site is also significant architecturally because it was designed by renowned architect Gustav A. Maass.

Maass was born in New Orleans and came to Palm Beach County in the early 1920s. He  participated in the design of railroad stations on Florida’s east and west coasts, including the Seaboard Air Line Railway Station in Delray Beach, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

He designed Carver High School in the Mid Century Modern style, and considering the fiscal constraints for buildings back in that day (Roy Simon said the school board would pay for a design that cost but $12 a square foot to build), Carver High was an architectural gem.

The original campus also could well be one of the last surviving Maass designs in Delray Beach.

Desegregation led to Carver High School’s demise in 1969. It merged with the former Seacrest High School, the predominantly white school in the city.

Seacrest students chose the new school’s name, Atlantic, and Carver students chose the teams’ mascot’s name: It would be the same as it was during Carver’s era.

Thus was born the Atlantic Eagles.

Click here to learn about Delray’s Preservation Trust is taking steps to save Carver High School. 

Delray’s Preservation Trust Taking Steps to Save Carver School


September 11, 2018 is when the County School Board will meet to decide which schools in Delray Beach are to be rehabbed, rebuilt or demolished.

It is the mission of The Preservation Trust and The Carver High School Historical Preservation Society, a newly formed community organization, to preserve and revitalize Carver High School’s legacy, (also known as Delray Full Service Center”) as a place for personal and academic excellence. The CHS Historical Preservation Society is asking for your support!

We feel the preservation of two (original buildings) of the fourteen remaining buildings on the historic Carver High School campus is worth fighting for. George Washington Carver High School (later changed to Carver High School) was the first African American High School in Palm Beach County and the last segregated school in Delray Beach. Learn more about its rich history here. 

The organization’s goal is to preserve and adapt for 21st century use the original historic structures known as building 1 (2-story Admin Bldg), building 12 (cafetorium) and the gymnasium, to become technical, cultural and vocational skills centers. Preservation of these buildings will serve the betterment of the people of the communities historically served by Carver High School, enrich educational offerings of Village Academy and enhance the educational offerings to the broader community of learners served by the Palm Beach County School District.

We feel that this preservation and historic designation will also help to bridge the generational gap, strengthen collaborative relationships with the residents of “The Set” neighborhoods of Delray Beach, the City of Delray Beach and the School District of Palm Beach County.

We should also consider the following significant features of Carver High School:

Association: Carver High School’s has a historic and meaningful association with George Washington Carver, Booker T. Washington, Professor Solomon D. Spady, Anthony Holiday and Spencer Pompey. in addition, Carver experienced outstanding achievements dating back to 1894.

Architectural:  Gustav Maass designed the Mid-Century Moderne Carver High School. Gustav was one of the most prominent architects of his day. He is a well-known mid-century architect who also designed the Seaboard Air Line Train Station just west of interstate 95 in Delray. This building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. His Art Deco style is reflected in commercial buildings along Atlantic Avenue, including the Boyd Building at Atlantic Avenue and the Intracoastal Waterway, which remains today and houses Deck 84 Restaurant.

Cultural: Carver High was the hub for activities and one of the few public gathering places for the African American community. Generations of residents attended graduations, town hall meetings and many other events at Carver. Carver served African American students from Deerfield Beach to Lake Worth and west to the farm lands. It not only educated students, it nurtured them during the days of segregation.

Age:  The original buildings are more than 50 years old which is the benchmark for being considered for historic designation.

If you are supporting the preservation of these historic  buildings on the Carver High School Campus you must make your voices heard.  Put your pen where your mouth is, so to speak. The School Board needs to know that you care and support the preservation of these buildings and our legacy.

If you would like to participate in our efforts, pleas take a moment to send an email to our Superintendent, District 7 Representative (Carver High School is in District 7)  and copy each of the Board members and me (cmic486747@aol.com). Their names and email addresses are provided below:

Dr. Donald E. Fennoy, SuperinSuperintendent superintendent@palmbeachschools.org

Dr. Debra Robinson, Vice  Chairwomen  District 7 debra.robinson@palmbeachschools.org

Barbara McQuinn, District 1  barbara.mcquinn@palmbeachschools.org

Chuck Shaw, Chairman – District 2  chuck.shaw@palmbeachschools.org

Karen Brill, District 3 karen.brill@palmbeachschools.org

Erica Whitfield, District 4 erica.whitfield@palmbeachschools.org

Frank A. Barbieri, Jr., Esq District 5 5frank.barbieri@palmbeachschools.org

Marcia Andrews District 6 marcia.andrews@palmbeachschools.org

We have been successful in having buildings 1,12 & the gymnasium listed as “Historic Structures” in Tallahassee. Now we must forge ahead to have the buildings added to the Delray Beach Registry of Historic Places and the National Registry of Historic Places. We must first persuade the School Board to agree to save the buildings from demolition. Let the School Board know that the community values the preservation of our legacy.

I and the local community members that attended the November, 2017 meeting voted on which option we would like to see at Carver High. We voted for option 3 , which was 1 of the 4 choices given by the School Board as an option. This option saved the historic buildings 1 & 12 and also incorporated a football field for Village Academy. Please let them know that you too want to choose option 3. As a result of our synergistic efforts, insist that they keep their commitment and support the communities decision.

Spring Harvest 2018


Local farmers and farm-to-table restaurants gathered on May 2nd  to celebrate Delray’s agricultural heritage at the 5th Harvest Celebration. This year we were honored to welcome back Stephanie Miskew, of The Glamorous Gourmet  & The Wine Atelier as our sommelier and Honorary Co-chairperson. She presented wines from Ste. Michelle Wine Estates which paired beautifully with dishes prepared by Chef Blair Wilson from Max’s Harvest, Chef William Ring from Harvest Grill, Chef Michael Schenk from the Farmers Table and Jamie Mattocks and Charlie Trimarco from Flamingo Seafood.

The evening began with our Farmer Showcase on the north lawn where guests mingled with farm families and our environmental partners, filled their farm bags with goodies and enjoyed the first course. At 7:00pm the event continued under the Royal Poinciana tree in our courtyard where Honorary Chairpersons Stephanie and Steve Miskew and our committee members including Mike and Karen Cruz, Nancy Vera, Chiara Clark, Helen Peck, Maria Ellingsworth, Pat Kerr and Kate Fogarty brought to life a beautiful evening of celebration and honoring history. Thank you to all of our sponsors and guests for supporting this event!

We’re very grateful to all of our farming partners and environmental groups who donated farm goods, time and passion to this event. Many have been participating the last five years! In keeping with our preservation and conservation theme and mission, they are protecting green space, the environment and keeping agriculture alive in our area. Thank you to Bedner’s, Bee Healthy Honey Farms, Farmer Jay Organics, The Institute for Regional Conservation, Yee Farms, The Florida Farm Bureau, The Grass River Garden Club, Whitworth Farms, Inc., Community Greening and Pascales. Check them all out!

Sponsor Spotlight with Sean Donahue


Where did you come from and what brought you to Delray Beach? 

Originally from Northern Virginia, I originally moved to Boca Raton in 1989.  Delray began to draw me closer in 1992 after meeting my wife, Michelle.  Michelle grew up in Delray well before it was the Delray of today and always spoke about what a great childhood she had here. Together, we came back to the community in the early 90s. Our favorite event was the St Patrick’s day parade. We would enter a float in the parade to raise awareness of a 501(c) 3 that we, together with our close friends would use to raise funds for The Haven and Horses and the Handicap in the early to mid ‘90s.  While we do not live in the city of Delray today, we call it home due to the large and amazing circle of good friends we have been fortunate to meet here.  Our children, like Michelle, attended St Vincent’s School when they were younger.  Fr. Skehan and Sister Mary Claire were great influencers in our daughters’ lives and grown into beautiful young women due to their time there.  I moved my office to downtown in 2010 and, along with Michelle, became more involved with this great community and its people who also call it home.

What inspired you to be in the Mortgage Banking business?  

I fell into the industry when I moved to Boca Raton in 1989.  While the industry has changed dramatically over the years with the implementation of heavy government regulation and oversight, the overall reward of helping thousands of families here achieve their dream of home ownership has never waned.  I get great satisfaction watching new homeowners receive the keys to their new home.  Some first time buyers, others I have worked with and watched them grow from their fixer-upper first home, to their new beautiful home on the intracoastal.  Being involve in assisting people meet their financial goals of homeownership is very rewarding to me.

What’s your take on the changes happening in our Village by the Sea?  

Change is good. Delray’s growth has put it on the national map as a favored destination for northerners who return year after year. The annual visitors recognize Delray as we locals do.  A very unique and special place with a great community vibe. It seems like suddenly, everyone wants to be here.

Why did you want to become part of the Delray Beach Historical Society? 

I believe a town needs to always hold on to its roots.  To me Delray is not a city….it’s a town.  That town identification is what keeps Delray unique.  Residents take pride in sustainable and measured growth in the town.  That said, it is critical to be able to understand the past; just like your family tree, there will always be a curiosity in future generations to gain insight into where the town began and understand how far it has come. We owe that to those who come after us. The exhibits at DBHS are always so informative and well put together.  They always leave the visitors with more than they expected.  After having a few events at the exhibits, I enjoy listening to visitors say “WOW!  I never knew or realized that about Delray”.  I would encourage anyone to take a time out to visit and take in the fascinating exhibits.

What’s the latest news from Supreme Lending? 

For five years, we’ve been running an internal program at Supreme called Personal & Professional BEST where each of our associates creates goals for the most important areas of our lives; fitness, family, faith, and finances. We’re now extending that program to our real estate partners helping them to also formulate plans to become the best versions of themselves. We’re all participating in livestreams together with great special guests to inspire us on the journey and keeping us accountable to our personal plans. I’ve made a lot of progress on my personal goals and it is a genuine honor to extend this program to my real estate partners for whom I care very deeply.

To learn more about Supreme Lending, call Sean at 954 415-2007  or sean@seankdonahue.com

Welcome New Board Members!


We welcomed three new board members at our 2018 Annual Meeting. They bring rich experience and knowledge to our organization, and we are very excited for them to join our team! Learn more about them below:

Kevin Bennett

Kevin is a 6th generation Floridian from Gainesville, FL., who moved to Palm Beach County after graduating from law school. In 2008, he opened a law practice in Delray Beach, FL after practicing with other firms for approximately 15 years, practicing employment law, commercial litigation and family law. Kevin says he selected Delray Beach for walkability, proximity to ocean, and fact it still had a hint of that beach village feel while still tucked into in a fairly cosmopolitan region. Kevin volunteered at the DBHS for several years before coming on to the board and is very happy to have the opportunity to increase my involvement and help out however he can.

Chiara Clark

Chiara and Tom Clark have been residents of Gulf Stream, Florida since 2012, having moved here from New York City. They have three children: Finley 9, Francesca 7 and Fletcher 4. They all attend Gulf Stream School.

Chiara (nee Berti) was born and raised in Avon, Connecticut. She attended Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts in 1995 and obtained her BA in Political Science and Psychology in 1999. After graduation, she joined Carlson Marketing Group in New York as an Account Executive, where she worked exclusively on the British Airways Executive Club loyalty program.

After leaving Carlson Marketing, Chiara spent the next eight years working in public relations, where she handled such clients as Santiago Calatrava, Robert Indiana and The Rolex Mentor & Protégé Arts Initiative. After marrying Tom in June 2008, Chiara moved to Boston, where she worked as an Event Producer for the event firm Rafanelli. There she handled such clients as Camp Harborview, The Boys & Girl’s Club of Boston and Boston Public Library (BPL).

After giving birth to her first daughter, Finley, Chiara has been a stay-at-home mother and is highly involved in her children’s schooling and activities, as well as in her local community. She is currently the President of the Gulf Stream School Parents’ Auxiliary

Board and has served on the Board for a total of five years. Chiara has chaired many Gulf Stream Auxiliary events including Founders’ Day, Golf & Tennis Fundraiser and the biannual Auction. As well as her commitment to Gulf Stream School, Chiara has been on the committee and/or volunteered for Magnolia Society for Bethesda Hospital, The Literacy Coalition of Palm Beach County, Achievement Centers Foundation, Delray Beach Library, Women of Grace Fundraiser for Bethesda Hospital and the Delray Beach Historical Society.

She still makes time to freelance weddings and other fundraisers for Rafanelli and remains an active donor for all the not-for-profits she has worked with in a professional capacity.

Vickie Sachs

Vickie was born in Reading, PA. Her family moved to Fort Lauderdale in 1960’s. She graduated Nova High School in Davie and graduated University of Florida in Gainesville.

Vickie was a reading Specialist in Broward County public elementary school before graduating Emory Law School in Atlanta, Georgia. She practiced Constitutional Law for State of Georgia in Atlanta.

When Vickie married, she moved to Boston, MA., and raised two sons in Brookline, MA. She practiced State Tax Law for Commonwealth of Massachusetts in Boston and lived in Massachusetts for 35 years.

Vickie’s parents and two siblings moved from Broward County to Delray Beach in 1990’s and she bought her home in Delray Beach in 2012. Vickie has been a full-time resident of Delray Beach since 2015 and has served as a volunteer and docent coordinator for the DBHS since 2014.

A Season of Tours and Classes


Our vision in opening new permanent exhibits in January 2018, was to offer a meaningful pathway to learn about local history. We’re pleased to report that local schools and the education community are responding! “La Florida” and “Delray Beach: The Last Frontier” present local history from prehistoric times through to 1918. We are open this summer by reservation and are taking calls for Fall tours. Your school or group can book a tour or class by calling 561.274.9578.

Our board, staff and amazing summer interns are continuing to work on different curriculum, lectures, tours and discussion topics for adults and students of all ages. We hope visitors will take away a basic understanding of area history and be inspired to explore and learn more. Delray represents a broad tapestry of heritage and we are seeing that the fascinating stories and lessons local history can teach us instill pride and a sense of connectivity and belonging.

Our new Wise Elder Circle has grown to 18 participants and meets once a month. The Circle has been instrumental in identifying photographs, filling in gaps in Delray’s history and sharing stories with each other. Lucky for us, we’re witness to fascinating local tales and are learning about families not previously documented for our archives.

Our Oral History Project is underway and will be ongoing. We are capturing the histories and reflections of Delray Beach residents not only for the benefit of future generations, but to help enhance our upcoming exhibits and media publications with real life stories.

Our educational mission has never been more important. It’s a fact that elementary schools across America are experiencing a decrease in history instructional time. A recent study from the National Assessment of Educational Progress showed that only 18 percent of American high school kids were proficient in US history. Other studies reveal that teaching history a low priority because history is not tested on a level that warrants comprehensive curriculum development. Yet another study revealed that some schools are conflicted on how to approach difficult or controversial subject matter.

We stay steadfast in our mission to bring Delray’s local stories and archive materials to life for visitors to learn from and share. See you this summer!

Tips for Recording Oral Histories


By Kate Teves 

At the Delray Beach Historical Society, we heartily encourage our audience to share interviews, songs, and other oral histories with our archive. Keep in mind that everybody has a story – you don’t need to be famous or accomplished in any way. (Also remember there are some important ethical guidelines to keep in mind.)

Any topic is good fodder, but here are some I’m especially keen to pursue:

  • Land development
  • Race relations, segregation, integration
  • Hurricanes
  • Tourism
  • Political elections
  • September 11th
  • Beach conditions & cleanup efforts (oil waste, plastics, etc)
  • All wars – veterans and survivors
  • The New York Effect (the Yankee flood to South Florida)
  • The Great Depression
  • Fashion trends


GREAT QUESTIONS FOR ANYONE

Here are some tips from the folks at StoryCorps for how to conduct a meaningful interview. Remember, collecting an oral history is not the same as conducting hard-nose journalism. Relax!

  • Who has been the most important person in your life? Can you tell me about him or her?
  • What was the happiest moment of your life? The saddest?
  • Who has been the biggest influence on your life? What lessons did that person teach you?
  • Who has been the kindest to you in your life?
  • What are the most important lessons you’ve learned in life?
  • What is your earliest memory?
  • What is your favorite memory of me?
  • Are there any funny stories your family tells about you that come to mind?
  • Are there any funny stories or memories or characters from your life that you want to tell me about?
  • What are you proudest of?
  • When in life have you felt most alone?
  • If you could hold on to one memory from your life forever, what would that be?
  • How has your life been different than what you’d imagined?
  • How would you like to be remembered?
  • Do you have any regrets?
  • What does your future hold?
  • What are your hopes for what the future holds for me? For my children?
  • If this was to be our very last conversation, is there anything you’d want to say to me
  • For your great great grandchildren listening to this years from now: is there any wisdom you’d want to pass on to them? What would you want them to know?
  • Is there anything that you’ve never told me but want to tell me now?
  • Is there something about me that you’ve always wanted to know but have never asked?
  • If you could interview anyone from your life living or dead, but not a celebrity, who would it be and why?

Visit www.storycorps.org for more tips on how to create memorable oral history projects.


TECHNICAL QUESTIONS 

Great oral history doesn’t require fancy technology! You can interview people with your iPhone! But keep in mind that it can be difficult to transfer large files from your iPhone (usually recordings longer than 8 minutes pose some trouble). We recommend recording directly to your computer.

If you would like to edit your recordings, consider using Audacity. It’s a fantastic free audio editing software.

If you are interested in creating more sophisticated field recordings, you can email me for equipment needs. Also check out recommendations online, for example this one.

Lastly, if you are interested in creating clean sit-down interviews to publish on, say, NPR, you will need to invest in a little more equipment. Email me.


SHARING YOUR RECORDINGS WITH US

We would be thrilled if you shared your field recordings with our archive! Please do not email audio files directly to me. Instead, send me a note and I’ll coordinate the best method for your files.

 

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View Delray Beach’s Historical Timeline


Take the Historical Archives one step further! The Delray Beach historical timeline includes photos, dates, facts and figures from the earliest recorded modern history of Delray Beach and its surrounding areas. Timeline »