Thursday, August 7, 2014

Princeton & Palm Beach Social Diary

Princeton University, 9/11 Memorial Garden. For all of the university's monumental architecture, composed landscape, imposing courtyards, pronounced archways, and incomparable works of art, I was most impressed by the aesthetic of the memorial garden dedicated to the lives of the thirteen Princetonians who died during the 11 September 2001 attacks. The bronze bell is called Remembrance, the work of Toshiko Takaezu.
Princeton & Palm Beach: Between Town and Campus + Among the Manors and Mansions
By Augustus Mayhew

This past week I spent several days on the Princeton University campus at the Harvey S. Firestone Library researching the Otto Kahn Papers for an upcoming feature on Otto Kahn at Palm Beach: 1915-1934 for The Palm Beach Daily News. Having survived NJ TRANSIT, I arrived aboard The Dinky, how else, checked-in to the Nassau Inn, where else, and immediately headed for the library’s research reading room located within the John Foster Dulles Library of Diplomatic History, a two-story hexagonal addition to the library’s southeast corner built in 1962.

Because the staff was exceptionally helpful, I was able to peruse countless building receipts documenting OHK’s three Palm Beach houses, memos quibbling over a painter’s bill, invitations from E. Clarence Jones to join him and some attractive “dancing girls” after dinner at Sherry’s, and Tony Biddle’s letter inviting OHK to be a founding member of the Bath & Tennis Club as well as serve on the board of directors of the Oceanfront Development Corporation that owned and built the Joseph Urban designed club.
The 9/11 Memorial Garden is located near the Firestone Library on the west side of East Pyne Hall. The garden design was a collaboration between Princeton's Office of Physical Planning architects and NYC-based Quennel Rothschild & Partners landscape architects.
After a full day of scouring contracts, letters, telegrams, memos — and tapping into www.planetprinceton.com  + www.dailyprincetonian.com  — I explored the contrast between the historic college town, apparently on the verge of allowing a formula 24-hour 7-Eleven mart on Nassau Street, its main thoroughfare, where it would join Panera + CVS + Starbucks, and the Oxford/Cambridge-inspired ivy-covered campus, where there are ongoing concerns about the university’s use of lab animals and hangovers from the 21 Club’s spring drinking scandal at the Tiger Inn.

And what about those friendly skies at United?  I could never have imagined a more adventurous surprise-filled excursion than the one United provided for me from PBI-Newark-PBI. Delays in take-off were due to “lack of flight crew.”  On the late-night return, countless passengers paraded on-and-off the packed plane when there was no room for their carry-ons. Minutes later, they marched back on as late arrivals arrived with their carry-ons and were ordered to about-face and repeat the same drill, best described as anarchy with intermittent bouts of chaos.
The garden plaque reads: "This garden is dedicated to the 13 Princeton alumni who tragically lost their lives in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001." The Princetonians memorialized by stars are: Robert Cruikshank '58, Robert Deraney '80, Christopher Ingrassia '95, Karen Klitzman '84, Catherine MacRae '00, Charles McCrann '68, Robert McIlvaine '97, Christopher Mello '98, John Schroeder '92, Jeffrey Wiener '90, Martin Wohlforth '76, William Caswell '75, and Joshua Rosenthal '81.
Princeton: Between Town and Campus

In Princeton, the movement to locally designate and protect historic landmarks took twenty years. A decade after Princeton Borough and Princeton Township created a commission in 1967 to study historic preservation, a proposed ordinance failed to be adopted that would have enacted a joint landmarks commission to oversee and regulate historic sites and districts.

Only after another historic survey was completed during the early 1980s, did the Borough enact an ordinance in 1985, establishing historic districts and an advisory Historic Preservation Review Committee. Two years later, Princeton Township establishing a similar Historic Preservation Commission. Highlighted by Nassau Hall and the Hamilton Jewelers distinctive Tudor-style building, the Central Historic District flanking Nassau Street includes some of the university's museum-quality Collegiate Gothic style. "As far as I know, there have been no attempts at (designating) the entire campus," said Christine M. Lewandoski, historic preservation officer for the Town of Princeton. The Princeton campus contains innumerable significant buildings designed by the 19th and 20th century's most renowned architects.
Harvey S. Firestone Library. Opened in 1948, the Firestone is undergoing a complete interior renovation. To the right, the cast bronze work of sculptor Jacques Lipchitz, Song of the Vowels, designed 1931–32 and executed 1969 ( The John B. Putnam Jr. Memorial Collection, Princeton University). The Jacques Lipchitz Papers are housed at The Smithsonian Archives of American Art, including correspondence with Marlborough Gallery that represents the estate of Jacques Lipchitz.
Harvey S. Firestone Memorial Library. Princeton University.
Firestone Library, interior lobby. Bust of Harvey Samuel Firestone, 1868-1938.
Firestone Plaza. Located in front of the library, this stone was donated in memory of Roger Firestone (1912-1970), the youngest of Harvey Firestone's five sons.
Firestone Library, Lobby.
Firestone Library, Trustee's Reading Room.
McCormick Hall, Princeton Art Museum. Dedicated in June 1966, the museum's 38,000 square-foot addition is credited to Steinmann, Cain and White, New York City, architects. Founded in 1882 with a collection of porcelain and pottery, presently the collections are comprised of more than 82,000 works. Above, stabiles by Alexander Calder —Man and The Kite That Never Flew — on view from 18 January 2014 - October 28, 2014. The sculptures are on loan from the Fisher Family Collection.
Princeton University has a one of the nation's most significant Campus Art collections. Much more compelling than anything I have seen at Art Basel. Above, Moses, a painted steel work by Tony Smith, fabricated in 1969. For a detailed browse of this extraordinary collection, go to http://artmuseum.princeton.edu/campus-art
East Pyne Building. Beyond the archways and courtyard, the Firestone Library Plaza and the University Chapel.
East Pyne Building, courtyard.
Princeton Chapel. Designed by the renowned Gothic Revival architect Ralph Adams Cram, the chapel dedicated in 1928. Cram was supervising architect of the University from 1907 to 1930 and designed numerous Revival-styled campus buildings including the Graduate College. In 1932, Cram designed the Knowles Memorial Chapel, a much subtler version of this chapel at Rollins College in Winter Park.
Princeton Chapel. The chapel is said to comfortably seat 2,000.
Princeton Chapel, window detail.
John D Rockefeller 3rd College. In 1980, Laurance s. Rockefeller, JDR 3rd's brother, donated the funds to redevelop the buildings in memory of his brother. The complex includes Upper Madison Hall, Campbell Hall, Holder Hall, Buyers Hall, and Witherspoon Hall.
Rockefeller College. Holder Hall. Designed by Day and Klauder and built in 1916, the ensemble of buildings has been called "the best example of the Collegiate Gothic style in the country," according to the university's web site. The complex is part of the Central Historic District. Rockefeller College, a view towards Nassau Street.
Nassau Presbyterian Church, 61 Nassau Street. Charles Steadman, architect, adapted from plans by Philadelphia architect Thomas U. Walter, according to the Princeton Historical Society.
Clio Hall. 1893. One of the campus' few Greek Revival buildings, Clio Hall faces Cannon Green that at night is filled with fireflies.
Blair Hall. Walter Cope and John Stewardson, architects.
Blair Hall, plaque. Walter Cope and John Stewardson, architects.
Blair Hall, archway.
Blair Hall, at twilight. A view towards Alexander Hall.
Alexander Hall. Designed by William A. Potter and dedicated in 1894, the auditorium is one of the most exuberant Romanesque Revival buildings on campus.
Alexander Hall. Detail. "Universitai Princetoniensi …" The bas-relief sculptures are the work of J.A. Bolger and executed by J. Massey Rhind. Although, I completed Latin I and Latin II, I would need to refresh my vocabulary to provide and accurate translation.
Nassau Hall. The campus' architectural centerpiece, facing Nassau Street.
Lower Pyne Building, Nassau Street at Witherspoon, Central Historic District. Nassau Street divides the town from the campus. Once a university dormitory, since 1985 the Lower Pyne has housed Hamilton Jewelers. Hamilton's superb Tudor façade is the street's aesthetic commercial high point, as it is all downhill to the Princeton Garden Theater. With many historically-minded villages refusing to accommodate formula chain stores, the town appears to be on the verge adding a touch of cultural kryptonite to its Main Street, a 7-Eleven convenience store.
90 Nassau Street. The Central Historic District was established in 1985.
The legendary PJ's Pancake House on Nassau Street. It might take several more visits before I develop a taste of PJ's cuisine.
Princeton Garden Theatre.
Nassau Inn. Located steps off Nassau Street, the Inn is the centerpiece of the Palmer Square redevelopment area. Said to be part of the 1930s Colonial Revival movement, Palmer Square was an attempt to create a new economic center for Princeton, aside from Nassau Street. Many of the town's earlier buildings were destroyed, as is common in these urban renewal projects. It remained incomplete until the 1980s, when shops, cafes and townhouses were added to the square's north and east sides. The Bent Spoon at 35 Palmer Square appeared to be the most popular venue, as the line for ice cream and cupcakes went to the door.
Silver Shop, Palmer Square.
Bucks County Dry Goods, Palmer Square.
Carter & Cavaro, Palmer Square.
Palmer Square. An eclectic façade.
Mediterra. 29 Hulfish Street.
Agricola Eatery. 11 Witherspoon Street. In June 2013, the NYT rated Agricola "Very Good." The reviewer commented on the restaurant's "elegant simplicity," concluding "If not perfect, many of the dishes are close enough."
Agricola Eatery, a view of the kitchen. Last Monday night, my dinner was disappointing. A goat cheese and potato terrine arrived beautifully packaged, but dry and unheated, almost cold below room temperature, thus it did not arrive "warm, creamy, and oozing…" as the NYT reviewer experienced. The calamari and chorizo flatbread sounded like the most flavorful mix but was simply tasteless, albeit artfully presented. And then, a forgettable pistachio strawberry cake with a cava sorbet. My highly-sophisticated waitperson was apparently a graduate of a Bravo Reality Series workshop rather than Cornell's hospitality school. You should know, the table next to me was very excited about the décor and exclaimed everything brought to their table was fabulous.
Small World Coffee. 14 Witherspoon.
Nightfall at the Firestone Library.
On Palm Beach, as it has been for the past century, is still all about construction and reconstruction.  Unlike Charleston and Newport, where there is still some appreciation and respect for the existing building fabric, the multi multi-billion dollar refuge is the ultimate destination for building Xanadus. After all, for some of the most fortunate, moving to Palm Beach is a covert operation tantamount to the federal witness protection plan. During the first six months of 2014, there have been 19 residential demolitions, bringing the 20-year total to more than 600 +/-. On Everglades Island, there are now more construction sites than in previous years. The original building guidelines mandated by Bessemer Properties have long since been abandoned. I cannot decipher what is going on at the former Archbold-Hufty house. 
A North End house nears completion, said to be inspired by a Louisiana plantation house set on 25 acres.
The Blossom Estates properties owned by companies reportedly associated with Ken Griffin have obtained approvals for demolitions, according to ARCOM minutes. Although, according to Page Six, Chicago’s hedge fund multi-billionaire may be focused more on the Griffin vs. Griffin particulars during the coming months than adding to his real estate portfolio. According to Crain’s Chicago Business, Anne Dias Griffin has retained lawyer Robert Stephan Cohen, Ellen Barkin’s rep in her split from Ron Perelman; Mr. Griffin has hired Berger Schatz, a Chicago firm that represented Julie Latsko in her divorce from Palm Beacher Fred Latsko. According to published reports in the Palm Beach Daily News, the cottage colony has also welcomed Bingo-to-Picasso art collector Steve Wynn, the Las Vegas-Macau gaming impresario who paid $20 million for the Dwight Schars’ lakeside Casa Apava lot.
1070 North Ocean Boulevard. With 240 feet of oceanfront, Vahan and Danielle Gureghian's French Monte Carlo-inspired dream cottage is well underway. In 2011, Philadelphia magazine described Mr. Gureghian as "controversial, ridiculously wealthy, and a famously mysterious attorney-entrepreneur."
1071 North Ocean Boulevard. The Gureghian Cottage.
Palm Beach officials, rumored to have consulted with the Duchy of Grand Fenwick concerning the Port of Palm Beach issue, recently provided residents volunteering service on the town’s boards and commissions more specific do’s and don’ts.  According to ARCOM minutes: “… lecturing to architects is unacceptable; … comments such as “I don’t like it” should not be made; ARCOM is to approve what is good for the Town of Palm beach not what any individual likes or does not like; and  … commissioners should never make derogatory comments or quips about a project.”
1071 North Ocean Boulevard, entrance. The Gureghian Cottage.
Concha Marina, the old Isabel Dodge Sloane – Betty McMahon house on Jungle Road, has sold to Tomas Maier. The sandbar’s billion-dollar Realtor Lawrence A. Moens received approval to install a FAO Schwarz bear sculpture at his new 1480 North Lake Way digs. In 2006, the Sun-Sentinel newspaper asked Moens how much he paid for one of the signature bears, "It's a lot of money, but I really don't want to talk money. I have been offered $175,000 for that bear, and I am not selling that bear." The late renowned architect Henry Harding’s own residence at 229 Orange Grove was approved for demolition, described as “rundown.”
Tomas Maier's new digs at 102 Jungle Road.
Thomas Peterffy’s heraldic family crest will soon be attached to his entrance gates at 1255 South Ocean Boulevard. Although Mads Thomsen's proposed Modernist house at 167 Seagate Road was first described as “world-class” by an ARCOM member, it failed to gain approval.  The appeal was rebuffed by the Town Council.  Apparently, Thomsen’s experience in Moscow proved no help in Palm Beach. Disappointing Golf View Road was never designated a historic district, making way for the demolition at #8 with plans approved for a 7,500 square-foot house.  At Montsorrel (c.1965-1966) with its “Windsor Suite,” Nelson and Claudia Peltz are seeking approval to make a 5,035 square-foot second story addition to their significant oceanfront mansion that somehow eludes even a mention of historic designation, much like Villa Artemis, Rabbit Hill, and the cottages at The Breakers, among several yet to ever be landmarked properties.
A North End adaptation awaits finishing touches.
Although what remains of the Mizner designed wall for Playa Riente at 911 North Ocean Boulevard was mentioned in the 1980 Landmarks Commission minutes as one of the town's most significant architectural fragments deserving of designation, 34 years later the wall remains undesignated as a local landmark.
New construction on El Bravo Way makes a formidable statement, as viewed from Island Road.
A spirited new house on Island Road has views across the basin.
330 Island Road. A view of the progress at the former landmarked Hufty house.
Here today, gone tomorrow on Everglades Island.
Buenos Recuerdos, 79 Middle Road. Just a few more touch-ups.
Buenos Recuerdos, entrance.
Villa Amante del Baile. 550 South Ocean Boulevard.
Villa Amante del Baile. 550 South Ocean Boulevard. The arch appears to be a fragment from Addison Mizner's cloister addition to Playa Riente.
Villa Amante del Baile. 550 South Ocean Boulevard. The previous owner utilized the arches as part of a greenhouse while the present owner has placed them in a motor court.
Villa Amante del Baile. 550 South Ocean Boulevard. Heraldry plaques are very much a part of a Palm Beach house.
At Vita Serena, preservation appears to have become reconstruction. The landmarked former E. Clarence Jones-Jean Flagler Matthews estate is undergoing a major renovation, reportedly by Charles Schumacher, the automobile dealer.
Casa Eleda. 920 South Ocean Boulevard. Renovated, again; I've lost count.
"Royal Palm Quartet." Looking south toward Town Hall from the Mizner Fountain. Lory Volk and Orator Woodward, both with almost lifelong concern for all matters Palm Beach, have championed a "Less is more" approach to the proposed $6.5 million makeover of Town Hall Square.
After much back-and-forth-and pulled in every direction, the Palm Beach Town Council is judiciously proceeding with the much-needed restoration of the Mizner Fountain, planning to decide in the fall on whether a complete makeover of Town Hall Square is really necessary.
Photographs by Augustus Mayhew.

Augustus Mayhew is the author of Lost in Wonderland – Reflections on Palm Beach.