Homes of El Cid


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Homes of El Cid

In 1990 I moved to West Palm Beach, Florida from California.  My wife and I were eager to purchase a house and we wanted an older home with character.   I had never been to West Palm Beach and had no idea about neighborhoods or types of homes available.

My realtor did her best to acquaint us with the neighborhoods in the city and in the surrounding communities.  Unfortunately, the properties she showed us had no appeal to us.  By the water they were small tract homes and expensive.  Away from the water they were larger, but either in sterile gated communities, golf communities or in unincorporated areas where the neighborhoods were very uneven. My stomach was cramping with the thought I would end up living in one of these.

“Aren’t there any older neighborhoods with older custom houses?” I asked.

She replied,” Well there is this old area in downtown.  I used to live there but I haven’t been there for years.  Bad crime, prostitution . . . it’s not an area I ever show.  But we can go if you want.”

Now how could you not pick up on an endorsement like that?  We went.  The area was  wonderful  and close to downtown, just off the intercostal waterway.  We loved it.  We bought our home there (and we did not see anymore crime than any other part of the city).

The area is known as El Cid.  The neighborhood was built in the 1920’s, which for Florida is old.  The architectural style of the homes for the most part is Mediterranean Revival or Mission Style, although there are excellent examples of the Monterey Style, and the Art Moderne Style.

El cid styles

El Cid styles

In 1990, when I moved in, the neighborhood was in transition.  Most of the homes were turning over as the original owners died or moved on.  New people like us were buying and fixing them up.

Historic Neighborhood and the Home Tour

The Neighborhood had issues with the flight patterns of the planes flying into and out of Palm Beach International Airport.  A group of concerned individuals, led by Pete and Mary Brandenburg, began meeting in my dining room and eventually decided to form the El Cid Historic Neighborhood District and apply for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.  Having a concentration of so many historic homes El Cid would be better protected from the airport intrusion.

No one else wanted to do it, so . . .  I became the first President of the El Cid Historic Neighborhood Association.  Hmmm!

The governing board decided we needed to raise money for the neighborhood, for beautification and other issues.  In 1994 we decided to conduct a home tour of selected homes.  This was not an original idea of ours.  A nearby neighborhood, Flamingo Park, had done tours for several years at $10 or $15 a person.  We felt, however, that we had much to offer in the quality of our homes and that we could charge $25 a person,  a lot of money in 1994.

Backtracking a bit, when I was in college, one year I was the assistant manager of two rooming houses.  I had drawn the houses for the promotional flyer.  Here is one of the drawings.

brittany briar

brittany briar

I think the site is now a parking lot.

Anyway, remembering this old brochure gave me an idea.  I told the group that I would make a drawing of each home on the tour and use it in our tour material.  We would give the drawing, framed, to the home owner as a thank you gift.  We had eighteen homes open for the tour the first year.

This is the first tour program.

El Cid  1994 brochure

El Cid 1994 brochure

And this is what the program looked like on the inside.

El Cid brochure inside

El Cid brochure inside

The following are examples of drawings for this tour and others which followed.

Jim and Lila Young's House

Jim and Lila Young’s House

This home, like most that follow, is surrounded by Florida vegetation.

Roof Tiles are the Rule

Roof Tiles are the Rule

Some Homes Evidence a Moorish Influence

Some Homes Evidence a Moorish Influence

Some Are More Massive

Some Are More Massive

Others are very Medetterainian

Others are very Mediterranean

Former Home of Late Phillip Reed

Former Home of Late Phillip Reed

We Have Our Elaborate Gate Posts

We Have Our Elaborate Gate Posts

We Like Our Hedges

We Like Our Hedges

And We Like Architectural Detail

And We Like Architectural Detail

Banana Trees

Banana Trees

Late Mary Herrick's House
Late Mary Herrick’s House

My House

My House

Some Homes Are Smaller

Some Homes Are Smaller

Some are Larger

Some are Larger

Ruben Hale's House

Ruben Hale’s House

In the years following there were many Home Tours.  The association raised money that was spent in various ways.  At one point we planted over 400 trees in the swales; at another time the original historic street signs were restored.  El Cid is now considered to be one of the most desired neighborhoods in West Palm Beach.  I think you can see by these drawings that the neighborhood is unique and full of charm.  I enjoyed being part of it.

More to come

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About Thomas L. Tribby

Professional artist: painter, sculptor, print maker. Maintains a studio in West Palm Beach, Florida
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