The Developer Moves To Sarasota
In 1951 B.J. Palmer purchased a winter home on beautiful St. Armand’s Key in Sarasota Florida. An avid fan of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus, he furnished the home in a circus motif as a testimonial to his person, with vivid color and circus memorabilia showcased throughout.
The home was average in size (2 bedroom/2 bath) so B.J. proceeded to add two sections: Circus Alley and The Hideaway. Circus Alley was built perpendicular to the existing structure on the north side and contained two rooms and a bath. The bathroom featured Spanish tile obtained on his travels and a parrot mural on the back wall. The back room, facing the bayou, was B.J.’s office where he wrote his last two books, published after his death.
The Hideaway was the upper level added to the single story structure on the opposite side from Circus Alley. During construction, the roof was used as a private sun deck. This upstairs section became B.J.’s private suite and downstairs lived a couple that B.J. referred to as “House Managers” who were full time residents and curators during B.J.’s absence. At the completion of the addition in 1952, B.J. placed his signature and footprints in the new cement.
To highlight the circus theme, B.J. had the house painted in bright colors both inside and out. The exterior window trim as well as the back yard stepping stones were painted brilliant circus colors of red, blue, yellow, green, and orange. Inside, the living room walls were a bright orange and blue, accented with diagonal stripes of yellow.
During the last 10 years of his life, B.J. Palmer spent the majority of his time at this winter home in Saint Armand’s, which he called his Beach House. It was a peaceful place for B.J. to continue his writings and to give an occasional consultation with a chiropractor. Rules and suggestions were published for house guests and visitors, as well as photos of his newly acquired Beach House. Photos of the original furnishings, pre- construction, and house rules may be found in B.J.’s book Answers (Volume XXVIII, copyrighted in 1952) Chapter 11, pages 249 through 272. Dr. Billy Brownell (a nephew) lived in Sarasota and provided chiropractic care to B.J. until his death in 1961. Dr. Brownell inherited the home and it was sold with most of the contents to Dr. Jack Parkman in 1962.
From 1968-1978 there were various owners until purchased by Life Chiropractic College in 1979, under the direction of Founder and President Dr. Sid Williams. By then it was in urgent need of repair due to years of neglect and there were fallen ceilings, other damage and virtually complete destruction of The Hideaway. The former garage of B.J.’s was enclosed which led to the discovery of his footprints and signature in the cement. These were preserved and placed on permanent display. During the renovation, which took several years, a private deck was added to the Hideaway and mirrors removed from the ceiling but the weather stains still remain. A call for original artifacts was circulated and resulted in hundreds of rare and one of a kind donations.
In 2002, when Dr. Sid retired from Life University, it became clear to Dr. Sid that Life University had no plans for the B. J. Palmer Memorial Home. Desiring to preserve this chiropractic icon’s legacy, Dr. Sid negotiated with Life University for it to transfer ownership of the property to a non-profit organization called the B.J. Palmer Historic Home Foundation. Unfortunately the home was not transferred to BJPHHF for several years and once again B.J.’s home was subjected to massive abuse and theft. The roof was allowed to leak profusely which caused major water damage to the home and several artifacts; one in particular was the first proto-type Thompson table on which B.J. was adjusted regularly.
B.J. Palmer Memorial Home
342 N Washington Dr
Sarasota, FL 34236