Post of­fice opens at Kelsey City, now Lake Park, in 1918

The Palm Beach Post - Neighborhood Post - Northern Palm Beach County - - Front Page - Sub­mit your ques­tions to Post Time, The Palm Beach Post, 2751 S. Dixie High­way, West Palm Beach, FL 33405. In­clude your full name and home­town. Call 561- 8204418. EK@pb­ Sorry; no per­sonal replies.

wel­comed vis­i­tors to the “World’s Win­ter Play­ground.” A 1922 news­pa­per ad fea­tured this boast­ful acros­tic: “Kelsey City. El­e­va­tion. Lo­ca­tion. Scenery. Ef­fif­fi­cient man­age­ment. Yacht basin. Cause­way to ocean. In­dus­tries. Tele­phone ex­change. Year round CITY.”

At his peak, Kelsey owned 120,000 acres and 14 miles of ocean­front be­tween Mi­ami and Jupiter. One of the town’s iconic sites was the Palm Beach Win­ter Club Club­house, which later be­came the North Palm Beach Coun­try Club.

But by Fe­bru­ary 1925, Kelsey’s ads in The Palm Beach Times had a des­per­ate sound to them: “We are obliged to sell our clo­sein acreage and water­front prop­er­ties to sup­ply cash for the $2,000,000 de­velop- ment pro­gram at Kelsey City dur­ing 1925.”

The 1928 hur­ri­cane and the real-es­tate crash that fol­lowed did Kelsey in. He left his city in 1931, and eight years later it changed its name to Lake Park. The arch that greeted vis­i­tors turn­ing into the town near Old Dixie High­way was torn down. Kelsey died in 1957.

In 1997, some Lake Park res­i­dents flfloated an idea to re­store the name “Kelsey City,” but the plan fi­fiz­zled.

Mean­while, Kelsey’s for­mer busi­ness part­ner, Sir Harry Oakes, who owned much of his Florida land, had moved to the Ba­hamas, where in 1943, while he slept, he was blud­geoned to death and his bed set afi­fire. He was 69.

His son-in-law, Count Marie Al­fred de Fon­quereaux de Marigny, 33, faced the gal­lows. The mo­tive: the two didn’t get along. Even as World War II raged, the trial be­came an in­ter­na­tional sen­sa­tion; the Mi­ami News sent Erle Stanley Gard­ner — writ­ing as his cre­ation, Perry Ma­son — to cover it. A New York de­tec­tive showed lo­cal au­thor­i­ties had botched the case and a jury ac­quit­ted de Marigny in two hours.

If those last few para­graphs struck you as juicy, fear not! Later this sum­mer we will lay out the en­tire sor­did tale of mur­der. Stay tuned.


What we now know as Lake Park was Kelsey City in the 1920s, named for Bos­ton busi­ness­man Harry Kelsey. The arch at the city’s en­trance is long gone.

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