Dorothy Binney Putnam was, among other traits, an avid naturalist and explorer. Any person who drives down the six-mile stretch of Indrio Road in our county, is struck by the beauty of the canopy of oak trees she planted, with her father Edwin, along what was in 1913 a dirt track. An heiress to a great American fortune, she was a freethinker for her time. She was a champion swimmer, who over her lifetime taught hundreds of children to swim. Dorothy married four times.
She had a highly visible marriage to America’s most powerful publisher, George Palmer Putnam in October of 1911. The young couple enjoyed an extended honeymoon visiting Panama, Costa Rica and Guatemala, which provided him with material for his first book. Their first home together “Pinelyn” a newly built brown shingled bungalow in Bend, Oregon, where George had purchased the weekly newspaper. Although a member of the world famous New York family publishing business, George at that time a bit of a rebel, was determined to be independent. The couples first child David Binney Putnam was born at their house on May 20, 1913. A young artist and poet Don Blanding, who worked at the local bank, and was a friend of the new family visited bringing violets to the new mother.
After eight years in Oregon and various travels and longtime stays in Poland, Washington and Central America the couple settled in Rye, New York in 1919. In this home they welcomed a second son, George Palmer Putnam on May 9, 1921. As George was spending much time in New York City and London, Dorothy along with her two son often accompanied her parents to Fort Pierce, Florida, where her father had built a clapboard farmhouse in 1913. A spot that Dorothy had explored and enjoyed as a young girl. George and Dorothy were divorced in 1929. George married their friend Amelia Earhart in 1931.
At the start of her marriage (1930) to Frank Monroe Upton a celebrated war hero, the couple occupied two large adjoining apartments at the Casa Caprona while they planned their permanent residence. They chose a 40 acre spot, owned by Cobb, four miles from the Binneys’ farm and seven miles from Fort Pierce. Dorothy designed her Florida home to sit snugly among the giant centuries old trees. She insisted on finding a perfect name for the home and grove, and finally decided on “Immo-ko-lee,” the Seminole “My Home Place.”
In 1940, Dorothy who was five years a grandmother by that time, married Don Blanding The flamboyant artist was introduced to Dorothy’s longtime friend A.E. “Beany” Backus. Don’s “Floridays” studio was soon shared with this talented young painter, and became a meeting place for an eclectic group of artists and writers. Don left Fort Pierce and enlisted, as did thousands of others following the attack on Pearl Harbor, a separation point for the couple. With the opening of the Naval Amphibian Training Base at Fort Pierce the town was invaded by hordes of servicemen. Doing her part she had opened her private pool and prepared home-cooked meals for hundreds of Navy men at a time.
During a 1946 Fort Piece Garden Club trip to Central America Dorothy met Lewis Hamilton Palmer. Born in Denver, Colorado he had settled in Guatemala after a tour of duty with the Royal Air Force. He later visited her at Immo-ko-lee and they were married in July of 1947.
Mrs. Putnam-Palmer was considered one of the most influential grove owners in St. Lucie County. As long-time President of the Fort Pierce Garden Club, Dorothy traveled throughout the state lecturing on the use of using native materials in arranging flowers. Dorothy’s granddaughter Sally Putnam Chapman published an account of her life in 1997 entitled Whistled Like A Bird.