Published On: Sat, Jun 4th, 2011

Royal Palm Yacht & Country Club still a luxurious venue after 50 years

By Dale M. King

BOCA RATON — More than half a century has passed since Arthur Vining Davis’ vision for a prestigious and luxurious community unlike any other became a reality.

Royal Palm Yacht & Country Club – the first planned unit development in South Florida and the first in the nation to bury utilities underground – was founded just over 52 years ago.

“It was on March 21, 1959 when ground was broken at the site of what would become Royal Palm Yacht and Country Club,” said David Roberts, broker/owner of Royal Palm Properties and exclusive seller of homes in the development.

Roberts still conducts the annual “Showcase of Homes,” giving the public a chance to admire the property. “That was how Arthur Vining Davis first sold his homes,” said Roberts.  “When he put his first homes on the market, he held an open house with 70 spec houses.  This shows the power of Arvida,” the name Davis created for his company by connecting the first two letters of each of his names.

The seaside development consists of some 700 homes as well as a full-service club.

“We are a by-invitation-only Club which ensures that members are surrounded by harmonious people they already knew as friends before they were invited to join,” said Membership Director Janet Wayne. “We’re in a unique position of being a small club amidst the large mega clubs in the Boca Raton area.  Our members are close friends and our staff knows everyone by name.”

Club General Manager Don Emery emphasizes the quality that has always been a club hallmark.  “Royal Palm is equivalent to platinum in the precious metals realm,” he said.

Two existing members must nominate a candidate for membership. Wayne said it is one of the few Clubs in the area to offer membership to those who do not reside inside the community.

She said golf membership provides privileges for all of the Club’s facilities and services. Marina membership provides use of all of the Club’s facilities and services, excluding golf privileges. Social members can use all facilities and services except golf and marina docking privileges.

Historic Recap

In 1958, Arthur Vining Davis was chairman of the Aluminum Company of America (ALCOA).  At the time, he had a personal need for cash, and decided to sell off part of his estimated 100,000 acres of land holdings in Florida.

“He took pride in the development of Royal Palm,” said Roberts.  “He dined, danced and beamed at the Club’s Inaugural Commodore’s Ball March 19, 1960 in honor of Milton N. Weir, Jr., the Club’s first Commodore.”

Davis named Weir, a Gulf Oil Corp. executive and realtor from Pompano Beach, president of Arvida. “Mr. Weir was a Yale graduate, a good business man, pleasantly correct, well spoken, highly ethical, strong minded but not disagreeable, and thoroughly committed to doing things according to the highest standards,” said Roberts.

And that’s what has made Royal Palm Yacht & Country Club succeed and endure. “Arthur Vining Davis assembled a great group of people. He asked them why other developments had failed, and they said it was because the infrastructure was not installed first.”

So Davis did – and his property passed the test of time.  “The seawalls are original – and they are still in good shape,” said Roberts. Davis brought in Sam Snead as the first golf pro.  The original golf course was designed by Robert Trent Jones, and redesigned by Jack Nichlaus.

In addition, said Roberts, “quality was manifested in Royal Palm by stringent architectural and building specifications.  Utilities were underground.  All roofs were to be white.  Lot sizes were larger than customary in other comparable developments.  Strict owner obligations were established by the Arvida controlled Royal Palm Improvement Association.  In all, 723 home sites were originally offered, later redesigned to 742.”

As older homes were razed and lots combined, the number of homes has been reduced to about 700.

Built on Polo Fields

The 450 acres that became Royal Palm embraced a nationally renowned polo field that was a focal point for Palm Beach society, with grandstands and stables for overnight housing of polo ponies.

Royal Palm derived its name from the statuesque Royal Palms bordering Camino Real. The club’s blue and gold colors are from the color theme of early Arvida sales brochures and advertising.

The first home in Royal Palm was owned by members Mr. and Mrs. Lunsford T. Nuckols of Greenbrier, W. Va., and Richmond, Va., at 2148 Silver Palm Road, West.  It was reported completed in the January 1960 issue of the Royal Palm Reporter.  Mr. Nuckols was a retired chief engineer of the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad.

“Today, Royal Palm Yacht & Country Club has evolved and grown along with Boca Raton,” Roberts noted. “Whether you are looking for a great investment or quality of life, Royal Palm offers both.  That is why it has remained South Florida’s most sought after community for more than 50 years.”

 

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  1. Neil Larson says:

    With all due respect, I must correct you. This article states that RPY & CC is the first ‘planned unit developement’ in south Florida. In fact, it is not. The first PUD was in Bradenton in the Harbor Oaks subdivision, built by Charles H. Parr Sr. lll in the mid 1970’s, for which Mr. Parr was given an award by the State.

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