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Lake Worth Beach Cottages Tour is back: Walk inside small Old Florida spaces where proud owners are ‘living large’

LAKE WORTH BEACH’S famous cottages are about to go on tour again. 

After a pandemic-induced hiatus, the nonprofit Cottages of Lake Worth will host a public tour of some of the colorful and charming cottages that make the city unique

At least 12 cottages in four neighborhoods will open their doors March 23 for the first cottage walking tour since 2019. Tickets, $45 each, are going fast and can be purchased by clicking this link. Sales are limited to 500. 

From quaint bungalows to colorful cottages, the tour offers a glimpse into a bygone era of old-Florida coastal living that took root during the 1920s land boom.

“Palm Beach Farms and other developers came down from the north and they wanted people to farm out west,’’ said Janet Serrano, a Cottages of Lake Worth board member. “They were going to send the produce up north. So as an incentive to the farmers, they said we will give you a 25-foot lot downtown and you can build a beach cottage there. Pretty soon people liked living in town more than they liked farming. So the cottages developed.’’

A cottage is generally defined as a small house usually set on a 25-foot lot with up to two bedrooms and a crawl space below. Most on the Lake Worth Beach tour are under 1,000 square feet.

Although historic cottages exist throughout Florida, Lake Worth Beach has the highest concentration in South Florida – roughly 1,000 cottages, most built in the early 1920s, east of Dixie Highway from Sixth Avenue South to 10th Avenue North.

In 2013, the group Cottages of Lake Worth was formed (six years before voters added “Beach” to the city’s name). And the first tour was held in 2016, attracting 350 visitors and creating a buzz.

That fall, a coffee table book was published: "Living Large in Small Spaces: The Cottages of Lake Worth," with more than 200 photographs. It became a hit. 

The next two tours, in 2017 and 2019 (they became biennial after 2017), attracted 500 visitors, and the momentum continued. The cottages were featured in a PBS story.  

“The city has adopted them as part of its identity,’’ Serrano said. “Realtors often point out that this home was featured on the cottages tour.’’

There were high hopes for the next tour. But it was canceled because of the pandemic. At the time, the board decided to do something creative “to keep the idea of cottages in the public’s mind,’’ Serrano said. 

“So it hit me: We could do a mural.’’

Artist Sami Makela painted a colorful mural of cottages, 60 feet wide and 14 feet high, on the side of a downtown building at Lucerne Avenue and North L Street. And the board decided to start planning for another tour. 

A mural dedication took place Feb. 28, with a plaque ceremony in memory of the late Janice Snearer and the late Dean Sherwin, who co-authored the coffee table book with photographer Taylor Jones. The mural features cottages that appear in the book’s photos.


The mural ceremony also served as a kick off of sorts to the next “Inside The Cottages” tour, from noon to 5 p.m. on March 23, a Saturday. 

“What a treat it has been to get to know people and hear their stories,’’ said Kathleen Sommers Naiditch, a board member who “scouted” the cottages for the tour. “Learning about everyone’s idea of their own little paradise and living in quaint and individual structures sometimes lovingly restored and preserved has been wonderful.’’

Visitors will get to explore a dozen cottages inside and out, including their lush backyard gardens, in the Downtown Jewel, Bryant Park, South Palm Park and Mango Groves neighborhoods. 

Also on the tour is a cottage that doubles as a business: the Federal Market on South Federal Highway, since 1935 the oldest grocery still in operation. 

“The tour helps people get ideas on how to get more space. Because that’s always a problem. They're so tiny. So they encourage their owners to make the most use of the space,’’ Serrano said. 

“Some of the little cottages, You go into them you're just astounded by the things people do inside. They’re just really so cute. And the backyards are just beautiful.’’


Inside The Cottages  Tour

  • Saturday, March 23. 12 p.m. to  5 p.m.

  • Tour starts at The Beach Club at the Lake Worth Golf Club at One 7th Ave. N.

  • A check-in welcome table opens at 11 a.m.

  • Trolley transportation, food and refreshments provided. There will be a map inside the tour brochure for those who prefer to walk or drive the tour route at their leisure. 

  • The event will be held rain or shine.

  • This tour is not appropriate for children or pets.

  • Purchase tickets by clicking this link.


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About the author

Joe Capozzi is an award-winning reporter based in Lake Worth Beach. He spent more than 30 years writing for newspapers, mostly at The Palm Beach Post, where he wrote about the opioid scourge, invasive pythons, the birth of the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches and Palm Beach County government. For 15 years, he covered the Miami Marlins baseball team. Joe left The Post in December 2020. View all posts by Joe Capozzi.


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