Esteemed historian, James Ponce, knows more about The Breakers and the destination of Palm Beach than anyone else alive. In fact, the endearing gentleman has spent nearly two-thirds of his life sharing his extensive knowledge and is know as Palm Beach’s two-legged historical landmark.
Mr. Ponce recently turned 95-years-old, happily celebrating 60 years of service at The Breakers. Last October, he was honored with the Providencia Award, given annually by the Palm Beach County Convention and Visitors Bureau.
This summer, the Associated Press visited The Breakers to tour the property with Mr. Ponce…
From the AP: “No place in this storied playground of the rich evokes as much history as The Breakers and no one knows the sprawling resort’s story better than Jim Ponce. Sixty years after first coming to work as a front-desk clerk at the hotel, 95-year-old Ponce still serves as the in-house historian, showing up every Tuesday to offer a tour to guests.”
Click here to read the full story in the Washington Post.
History of The Historian
James Ponce was raised in St. Augustine, the city from which Henry Flagler masterminded the development of a railroad down Florida’s east coast. His father, Raymond A. Ponce, was Flagler’s undertaker.
After high school, Mr. Ponce went into the hotel business, but then entered military service with the US Navy during World War II and the Korean War. At the end of his duty in 1952, he worked at the front desk of The Breakers. He then continued his career in Palm Beach with The Colony and Brazilian Court hotels, and in 1977, he returned to The Breakers as an assistant manager until his retirement in 1982. After which he became The Breakers’ historian.
Mr. Ponce is also the official historian of The Breakers and the Palm Beach Chamber of Commerce and past president of the Historical Society of Palm Beach County.
Join Mr. Ponce for a Tour!
Tours with The Breakers hotel historian James Ponce are every Tuesday at 2 p.m. Reservations are required and the tours are free for hotel guests. For non-guests, the tour is $15, for reservations, please call: (561) 655-6611.