Thank you for supporting our journalism. This article is available exclusively for our subscribers, who help fund our work at the Sun Sentinel.
Price Patton, president of the Delray Preservation Trust, spearheaded the effort to make sure that a variety of buildings would be informally recognized with temporary marker signs. That way, people would be able to tour the city and learn more about the history behind some of the older homes and families in the area.
The signs that were added to the properties are not permanent, Patton said. The house just had to meet certain basic qualifications to be noted for the month of May.
“The house has to be at least 50 years old and it has to be a certain architectural style,” he said. “Then we sell these plaques at cost, and you can attach them to your house. We remove them at the end of May and then we’ll go for a whole new round for the next Preservation Month.”
The Delray Preservation Trust is trying to be as accessible as possible by using social media to highlight some of the properties that people can visit.
The Preservation Trust encourages people to preserve — rather than tear down — historic houses. They help people walk through the labyrinthian formal process of getting their home or building as historic for permanent status.
“We support things like historic tax abatement credits,” Patton said. “That is where you can upgrade an old house in the city and the county. This means that you don’t have to pay taxes on the improved value of the property for 10 years. So it’s quite an incentive.”
When it comes to the effort to highlight homes that have many community memories, or even historic importance, Patton said he is happy that they can help the city share and preserve their stories.
“The great thing about history is that each of these houses tells a story, and they’re a tangible reminder of that story,” he said. “That’s much better than having a house that is torn down with a plaque that says ‘A really cool house used to be here.”
One of his favorite highlights is of a historic hotel that was famously run by a Black resident decades ago.
“One of the buildings we featured was the LaFrance Hotel, which is in the West Settlers Historic District and was the only hotel in the 1950s and ’60s where Black people could rent a room between Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach,” he said. “They had a lot of domestic workers stay there but a lot of entertainers stayed there as well. There’s a rumor that Duke Ellington stayed there once. Now it’s been refurbished and serves as housing for low-income seniors.”
The following is a list of the properties recognized:
- 19 N. Dixie Blvd. Del Ida Historic District. Mission. 1925
- 1110 N. Swinton Ave. Resort Cape Cod. 1936
- 704 N. Swinton Ave. Old School Square Historic Arts District. Mediterranean Revival. 1928
- 160 Marine Way. Marina Historic District. Minimal Traditional. 1940
- 120 NW Fourth Ave. Willie Franklin House. West Settlers Historic District. “Shotgun” bungalow. 1924
- 296 NE Sixth Ave. Charles Harvey Diggans, a Delray Beach Realtor, and his family were the first to live in this Sam Ogren-designed house. The Diggans family lived in it until the 1960s when they sold it to the Varga family of artists. Spanish Colonial. 1925
- 114-114 1/2 NE First Ave. Costin Cottages. Old School Square Historic Arts District. Frame Vernacular and Craftsman bungalow. 1945
- 1616 N. Swinton Ave. Mediterranean Revival. 1928
- 140 NW Fourth Ave. LaFrance Hotel. West Settlers District. Masonry Vernacular. 1949
- 1104 Nassau St. Nassau Historic District. Florida Vernacular. 1935
- 102 NE First St. Delivery Dudes headquarters. Old School Historic Arts District. Frame Vernacular. 1939
- 200 SE Seventh Ave. Former First Church-Christ Science. Marina Historic District. Southern Colonial. 1930