Historic Structures

Brelsford House - The Banyans, Palm Beach Florida

Date added: April 28, 2022 Categories: Florida House Mansion

E. M. and J. H. Brelsford, brothers from Ohio, bought the land-not only the house site but a great deal more, as well as the point of land they called Brelsford Point, from Frank Dimick in 1880. Later, in 1893, they sold off part of the land to Henry M. Flagler. E. M. Brelsford completed The Banyans in 1903, and he or members of his family lived there for forty years when it was sold to Burt Winters in 1943, then to John Malbach [Maibach] in 1963, and ultimately to the Royal Poinciana Chapel in 1967.

Four years after the Brelsfords bought the land described above, a Captain Hendrickson and the Brelsfords built a store on Brelsford Point in 1884. On January 15, 1887, a post office was applied for under the name of Palm City. This was changed on October 1, 1887, to Palm Beach, with E. M. Brelsford as postmaster. Brelsford began The Banyans soon afterwards.

The store, a corner of which became the post office, was an important center of Lake Worth life for some time. Brelsford Brothers' notes, drawn on a Jacksonville bank, were as good as cash in the lake area.

When Henry M. Flagler came to Palm Beach in March 1893 he stayed three days, chosing sites he wanted to buy for his Royal Poinciana Hotel and Whitehall. His agent, Albert Robert, paid the Brelsfords $50,000 for a strip of land, including the point (later Flagler's Point), and land occupied by their store (which they moved off to a site on Main Street north of Flagler's hotel site). Soon after Flagler's Whitehall was finished (1900-1902), Brelsford the postmaster completed The Banyans (1888-1903) and he or his descendants lived there for forty years. On the front lawn was a notable tree after which the house was named. There is at present the remains of a once-massive banyan tree in the yard, and a Ceiba tree (also called a banyan) of great size.

The home was vacant after 1971, and demolished by the Royal Poinciana Chapel in 1975 to make room for a parking lot.