The inaugural Edward E. and Suzanne G. Elson Award was presented to the White Elephant Palm Beach on December 5th, 2022. The Elson award recognizes an outstanding new construction or major rehabilitation of a commercial or public space in the Town of Palm Beach.
The White Elephant exuberantly fulfills the award criteria in its rehabilitation of the landmarked Algemac hotel and contribution to the revitalization of Royal Poinciana Way. Historic properties are the core of a well-established business district. They create an authentic sense of place that encourages people to visit and invest in the area. As the first Mediterranean Revival-style hotel built in Palm Beach in 1923, the Algemac was one of the earliest locations where the style could be experienced in a public setting.
Not too long ago, this beautiful building that we are standing in today occupied a dormant corner just off the Town's historic Main Street. Years of deferred maintenance had taken its toll and it was easy to overlook the property. Today, passersby can appreciate the building's restored architectural detailing along with an activated courtyard, interconnected balconies, and rooftop terraces. Combined with the Preservation Foundation's beautification of Bradley Park and the restoration of the Royal Poinciana Plaza, the community now benefits from a more vibrant and welcoming gateway to the Town's historic main street. Learn more about the White Elephant in an episode of Landmarks Discovered.
Ambassador and Mrs. Elson have an esteemed history of service in the arts. Ambassador Elson pioneered retail outlets in airports, hotels, and train stations. In addition to serving as an American ambassador to Denmark, he was the first Chairman of NPR and has also served as Treasurer of the Preservation Foundation. Susie Elson has left an indelible mark at both the national and local levels through her philanthropy including serving as chairwoman of the American Craft Council and the Society of the Four Arts.
The Elson Award is a much-needed addition to the Preservation Foundation's roster of prestigious awards, which have always placed a focus on the architecture and landscapes of private residences within the Town. While the Ballinger Award has occasionally recognized the outstanding restoration of public spaces like the Bath & Tennis Club and both St. Edward's and Bethesda-by-the-Sea, the Elson Award allows us to fully appreciate the impact of a building on the public realm. In doing so, we can promote projects that positively contribute to the Town's unique sense of place and promote economic or cultural vitality in the community.