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.  

       Footprints and initials 12-12-52 

The curator in the Hideaway

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.

Living room 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 (visit our photo page).

The U.S. flag that was flown over the house by B.J.

   One of B.J's circus lamp collection

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.

The B.J. Palmer Memorial Home is a fascinating facility for the preservation and display of irreplaceable mementos of Dr. B.J. Palmer. As you approach the front door, a striking wrought-iron reproduction of B.J.’s initials will greet you. Passing through the front door you will enter a spacious house of over 4,000 square feet. This commodious facility that was B.J.’s home features a vast living room and library, dining room, fully equipped kitchen, 5 bedrooms, 5 bathrooms, breezeway and sitting room. The home contains furniture that was in the house when B.J. died as well as pieces from his residence in Davenport. The original furniture along with personal items, including his comb, brush, wallet, and hat boxes are on permanent display in the bedroom where B.J. died. Every effort has been made to re-create B.J.’s bedroom to the original arrangement. The concert Grand Piano (once played by Ignace Paderewski) and Roycroft furniture remain, although the other pieces are rotated seasonally.

If you are interested in helping with the restoration and preservation of the Memorial Home or giving monetarily, Susan would love to hear from you by email at bjpalmerhome@gmail.com or by phone at 770-499-9209. Donors are eligible for a tax credit, as the BJPHHF is a non-profit (501 C3) organization. The B.J. Palmer Memorial Home has been enriched through donations and donations of any size are always welcomed. If you would like to plan an exclusive visit to the home or arrange a tour, we would love to hear from you.


B.J. Palmer Memorial Home 2011

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