While often recognized as a beach tourist destination, Palm Beach County is rich in arts, culture, historic and archaeological significance. PBC Parks’ Living History Program offers a free educational platform that promotes the importance, value, and significance of our local historic and cultural resources, bringing history to life to more than 6,000 residents and visitors yearly through direct programs, events and tours.
Our Living History Program takes participants on a journey back in time through self-guided tours and unique immersive educational opportunities to better understand and develop an appreciation for the land, the vast richness of our past, and instill hope for a more enriching future for this and coming generations.
A Little History
According to archaeological evidence, fossil remains of mammoth, mastodons, horses, dire wolf, giant armadillos, and jaguars were found in Palm Beach County dating back more than 10,000 years. A few scant prints found around Lake Okeechobee suggest earliest human habitation in the region more than 6,000 years ago—that is 2,000 years before the great pyramids of Egypt were built!
PBC Parks has long recognized that stewardship of arts, culture, historic and archaeological resources is critical to not only building a sense of community through tangible objects, such as artifacts, battlefields, pioneer homes and sawmills, but to also share a sense of place and equitable historical narratives, particularly with the youth. Our goal is to preserve and protect these cultural resources, while providing education and passive recreation opportunities for visitors to experience this beautiful county and its history.
Loxahatchee River Battlefield Park and Riverbend Park
Loxahatchee River Battlefield Park, in Jupiter, Florida, is the location of two Second Seminole War battles and a working pioneer family farmstead. Along with adjacent Riverbend Park, Loxahatchee River Battlefield Park is one of the most important multi-level historic sites in Palm Beach County.
Gateway to the Wild and Scenic Loxahatchee River, prehistoric and historic habitation has occurred along the river dating as far back as the Archaic Period over 5,000 years ago. Indigenous tribes lived and hunted on the land during the Archaic Period until the time of the Seminole Indians in the 1800s. After the Seminole Wars, some of the swamps were sapped and orange groves were planted by settlers. You can still see the orange trees standing at Riverbend Park planted more than 100 years ago.
The park itself is “living history” with annual battle reenactments commemorating Powell’s Battle – January 15, 1838 and Jesup’s Battle – January 24, 1838. The park includes a Seminole village recreated by former Chief Billie and the farmstead depicts a pioneer family’s way of life with a garden, livestock pens, horse corral, smoke house, cane press, sugar cane boil and restored sawmill. A Florida Department of State historic marker greets visitors at the entrance to remember the two major battles that were fought on the land. Interactive exhibits and performances are held throughout the year and visitors are invited to journey back in time, all at no cost.
Watch our History Comes Alive video series featuring different topics from reenactors of the annual Battlefield Reenactment event on PBC Parks TV on YouTube at https://bit.ly/3vZXYWo.
DuBois Park and the DuBois Pioneer Home
DuBois Park, located about eight miles east of Loxahatchee River Battlefield Park and Riverbend Park, in Jupiter, Florida, was acquired by PBC Parks in 1971. The entire park was once a thriving village, where ancient Floridians lived. “Fiber-tempered” pottery shards, beads and bones have been discovered at the site, and a few artifacts suggest the site was being used 6,000 years ago, during a time period referred to as the Archaic Period.
The park features the DuBois Pioneer Home. Built in 1898 by Harry and Susan DuBois, it is one of the oldest surviving homes in Palm Beach County. Standing atop a 600-foot-long and 20-foot-high indigenous shell rock midden, the DuBois Pioneer Home is rich in both historic and archaeological value. Often referred to as “the house on the hill,” the Home has been listed on the National Registry of Historic Places since 1985 and is an example of life in a self-sufficient pioneer homestead.
The Home is open to the public year-round and through the Living History program, volunteer docents provide public and private guided tours at no cost highlighting the county’s rich past, educating residents and visitors about the inhabitants of the land, including an intimate account of the pioneer way of life in South Florida during the late 1800s through the 1930s. Period furnishings, personal objects, tools and equipment utilized by the DuBois family are also on display.
DuBois Park is also home to a cannon and anchor recovered in July 1987 from the 1659 Spanish ship wreck San Miguel which sunk approximately 200 yards east of adjacent Jupiter Beach Park. DuBois Park is among PBC Parks’ most popular waterfront parks with about one million visitors annually.
For a virtual tour of the Pioneer Home and Fireside Chat short stories from relatives and friends of the DuBois family, visit PBC Parks TV on YouTube at https://bit.ly/3BZ8IZ5.