Thursday, August 8, 2013

Chapter XXV: Resort Life, March-April 1964

April, 1964. 977 North Ocean Boulevard, Palm Beach. Bunny du Pont and Sid Luft wait for a Polaroid to develop while waiting for the Duke and Duchess of Windsor to arrive for lunch. In the throes of a separation and contentious divorce from his wife Judy Garland, impresario Sid Luft and his "old school friend" Nicholas du Pont were reported in discussions related to the import of innovative construction materials from Europe.
Chapter XXV: From Medway Plantation to Palm Beach's Barefoot House
By Augustus Mayhew

"As much as everything changes, nothing is different," wrote Ellen Glendinning Ordway on a page in her photograph collection. And yet, the loss of her husband Lou Ordway must have been immeasurable. Married for only more than a decade, Lou and Ellen had traveled in the same close circles for more than 30 years. And, as in 1948 when Ellen spent a week at Medway Plantation with Gertrude Legendre following the loss of her husband Sidney, Ellen and her daughter Bettina returned to Medway's refuge after Lou's death. Her photographs capture Medway's great romance. Then, once family and old friends departed, Ellen found herself at Villa Bel Tramonto in the middle of the Palm Beach season — Bess McGrath was arriving from Ireland. the Duke and Duchess of Windsor were scheduled for their own "mini-season," and Nicky and Bunny du Pont finished their new sensational oceanfront house ... "As much as everything changes, nothing is different."

March 1964

Medway Plantation
Berkeley County, South Carolina
Known as the oldest masonry house in South Carolina, Medway Plantation's main house was built c. 1686, rebuilt in 1704 with additions in 1855, and completely renovated in 1929 when Gertrude and Sidney Legendre bought the property. The Historic Charleston Foundation was granted an 82-acre easement for the grounds surrounding the main house. The Wetlands America Trust was conveyed an easement for the remaining acreage to be preserved for hunting, fishing, and recreational uses.
The three-story 6,200 square-foot main house features six bedrooms, pine floors, ten-foot ceilings, and two staircases.
The main house at Medway Plantation.
"This is where we were "housed." Medway Plantation is composed of several guest houses and numerous outbuildings.
Main house, side elevation. "The original front door facing the river."
The Main house at Medway Plantation. The Medway Institute, Bokara Legendre, trustee, recently sold Medway Plantation for $11 million to Greek shipping tycoon Gregory Callimanopulos. Some had believed the 6,700-acre landmark might never be sold because of the restrictive-use easements Bokara's mother Gertrude Legendre had placed on the property. But surprisingly, the new owner shared many of the Legendre family's same interests. First placed on the market eight years ago for $25 million, the discounted selling price nonetheless marks the largest residential sale in South Carolina's Low Country history.
Jane Sanford Pansa. Main house, living room. Following her 1937 marriage to Italian diplomat Mario Pansa, Jane Pansa had lived in Europe during the war. Because of her marriage to an Axis member, she reportedly had to wait almost a decade to receive another American passport. Her husband died of an accidental drowning in 1946, according to published reports.
"Six years of work."
Main house, living room.
Main house, living room.
Bettina Frazer Dale.
Medway Plantation, walled garden.
Medway Plantation, within the walled garden. Marylou Whitney and Gertrude Legendre.
Medway Plantation, living room.
Medway Plantation, dining room, with a portrait of Sidney Legendre (1903-1948).
Medway Plantation, dining room – china cabinet.
Medway Plantation, trophy-gun room.
Lakeside log cabin, patio. Ellen Ordway's daughter Bettina Frazer Dale and Dot Kelleher. From the landing dock on the Back River, Medway Plantation is one hour by boat to Charleston.
Log Cabin, patio. "Peter and Landine Sanford Manigault come for lunch."
Lakefront lodge built in the log cabin style on the Home Reserve. At lunch, heads of table, far left, Billy Baldwin; far right, Gertrude Sanford Legendre. To the left of Mr. Baldwin, Marylou Whitney.
Left to right, Bettina Frazer Dale (back) Billy Baldwin and Marylou Whitney.
Mulberry Plantation, Moncks Corner, South Carolina.
Mulberry Plantation.
"A visit in the Land Rover to Spring grove." Spring Grove was one of the three plantations that made up Medway Plantation's 6,700+ acres.
Gertrude Legendre and Bettina Frazer Dale walking in the cypress gardens at Medway.
Medway Plantation, Cypress gardens.
March 1964

Phipps Estate – Michael & Molly Phipps' house
450 North County Road, Palm Beach. John Volk, architect
"Bess McGrath arrives from Ireland and gives Pamela the once over."

"Then, we call to see how the Phipps house is progressing."
450 North County Road, façade. North elevation.
Bess McGrath walking with Jimbo and Pamela.
Ho Kelland and Bess McGrath.
Susan "Susie" Phipps Cochran with Master John "Jay" Shaffer Phipps Cochran.
Michael and Molly Phipps arrive at 450 North County Road by helicopter from their ranch and thoroughbred training center in Martin County.
Mike Phipps landing in his approx. 20-acre backyard, then known as the largest residential estate on Palm Beach. Today the main house sits on ten lots within the 32-lot Phipps Estates subdivision platted in 1995.
Molly and Michael Phipps alight from the chopper.
Dr. William Sayad, a longtime Palm Beach resident and an ear, nose, and throat specialist, was aboard the chopper with his movie camera. An Everglades Club member and Golfview Road resident, Iranian-born Dr. Sayad was best known as the Kennedy family's physician.
Mike and Molly Phipps.
From afar, Mike Phipps and Ho Kelland standing on a south elevation balcony; below right, Bess McGrath.
Forty-five years later, Casa Phippsberger's south elevation and second-level balconies.
Back in 1964, Mike Phipps and Ho Kelland perched on a south elevation balcony.
450 North County Road, south elevation.
April 1964

Villa Bel Tramonto
241 Banyan Road, Palm Beach
Treanor & Fatio, architect

'An informal luncheon for Wallis, Duchess of Windsor."
Genevieve "Bunny" du Pont, Suzanne "Suzy" Anderson Gardner, and Wallis, Duchess of Windsor.
Bunny du Pont & Suzy Gardner. The Windsors were staying with Arthur and Suzy Gardner at their South Ocean Boulevard house deigned by Howard Major.
Ambassador Arthur Gardner. A former US Ambassador to Cuba (1953-1957), when Gardner resigned President Eisenhower replaced him with fellow Palm Beacher Earl E. T. Smith.
Nicholas "Nicky" du Pont. Mr. du Pont's parents the Eugene duPonts were frequent Palm Beach and Boca Raton seasonal visitors. In one of the more celebrated weddings during the 1930s, his sister Ethel du Pont married Franklin D. Roosevelt Jr. the same year he wed Genevieve 'Bunny" Estes in Jacksonville. Sadly, following the Roosevelts' divorce and her second marriage to Benjamin Warren, Ethel du Pont Roosevelt Warren committed suicide in May 1965.
Wallis, Duchess of Windsor, and Ellen Yuille Blair. The duchess (Bessie Wallis Warfield Simpson) and Ellen Blair were school chums at Oldfields School in Maryland. ("I know everything so I don't listen!" is written on the pillow to the right of the Duchess of Windsor's shoulder.)
Edward, Duke of Windsor, and Wolcott Blair.
April 1964

Casuarina – Nicholas "Nicky" & Genevieve "Bunny" du Pont's house
977 North Ocean Boulevard, Palm Beach. John Volk architect - Valerian Rybar, interior decoration

"A visit at Nicky and Bunny du Pont's new house. Now completed."
977 North Ocean Boulevard, façade entrance. Situated on one-acre of direct oceanfront, Bunny and Nicky du Pont's house was approached by a protected driveway leading into a motor court. Known by the duPonts as Casuarina, fashion arbiter Eugenia Sheppard called it "The Barefoot House."
977 North Ocean Boulevard, multi-leveled front entrance.
Living room. When Valerian Rybar, the world's most expensive decorator to the world's wealthiest, died in 1990, Bunny du Pont told The New York Times, ''He combined taste and drama in a very unique way,'' Mrs. DuPont recalled. ''And unlike many designers, Valerian was versatile. He could go from the most lavish and elaborate schemes to something simple and clean-cut.''
Valerian Rybar's colorful interior for Nick and Bunny du Pont was photographed by Horst and featured in Vogue in 1965.
A view from the living room towards the ocean. Despite not having any formal training in interior decoration, Valerian Rybar's clients included Suzy, Guy and Marie-Helene de Rothschild, Prentice Cobb Hale, Herbert Von Karajan, Antenor and Beatriz Patino, Samuel and Mitzi Newhouse, Sao Schlumberger, Christina Onassis, and Stavros Niarchos. More commercial projects involved the Tropicana Hotel, Las Vegas, a Valentino salon, Paris, El Morocco nightclub, New York, and the Tres Vidas resort, Acapulco.
Ambassador Stanton Griffis, Nicky du Pont, and Sid Luft. Mr. Luft and Mr. du Pont were "old school friends" involved in several business transactions. Mr. Luft does not appear to have the same tailor as Nicky du Pont.
"Setting an entirely new trend, colors and furniture have been grouped to invite relation amidst tropical splendor," wrote Suzy in the March 1964 Palm Beach Daily News, describing Rybar's work at the du Ponts' new house.
Bedroom, view towards the ocean. Said to be born in Sarajevo to a Hungarian father and Viennese mother, Valerian Stux Rybar's eclectic personal history included "a fancy school in Vienna," law school in Stockholm, and a seven-year marriage to Aileen Guinness Plunket.
Bedroom. According to his own biography, Mr. Rybar worked as a package designer for Elizabeth Arden in New York before setting out as his own designer.
Guest bedroom. "It's the concept that counts," Rybar told an interviewer in 1977.
Guest bedroom. In his New York apartment, Rybar installed stainless steel floors, velvet folding chairs, a mink-tail rug, and marble-topped steel tables, according to a 1977 interview.
Bunny du Pont shows Stanton Griffis the courtyard pool.
The dining area. In 1968 Mr. Rybar and his partner Jean-Francois Daigre formed Valerian Rybar and Daigre Design Corporation with New York and Paris bureaus.
Dining area, wall tapestry.
Stanton Griffis and Suzy Gardner.
The royals arrive. Nicky du Pont greets the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.
Wallis, Duchess of Windsor, Nicky du Pont, and Edward, Duke of Windsor.
The royals arrive, time for the Polaroid. Sid Luft and Bunny du Pont.
Ellen Glendinning Frazer Ordway's photographs are courtesy of the Lucius Ordway Frazer Collection©.
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