Real History: Breakers’ Historian Honored
Our team is so excited to announce that The Breakers’ esteemed historian, Mr. James Ponce, has been named this year’s most significant contributor to Palm Beach County as a tourist destination – thanks to your votes!
The year’s Providencia Award, given annually by the Palm Beach County Convention and Visitors Bureau, was the first time in the award’s 22-year history that the recipient was selected by public vote.
Mr. Ponce was the only individual chosen as a finalist, along with The Palm Beach International Boat Show and Lion Country Safari. The Palm Beach Post has called him a “walking landmark” (read the full story), and in 1996, the town council named Mr. Ponce Palm Beach’s only Two-Legged Historical Monument.
The gracious 94-year-old has treated US and global visitors to weekly walking tours of the of the resort for the past 28 years. Between The Breakers and monthly historical tours of Worth Avenue, Mr. Ponce has shared his knowledge about the early days of Palm Beach with nearly 50,000 people over the decades.
Mr. 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 Palm Beach Chamber of Commerce and past president of the Historical Society of Palm Beach County.
This wonderful honor could not have gone to more deserving person. Congratulations Mr. Ponce!