Domain Names at Palm Beach

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Imagine, life on Cloud Nine or Between Seas; the Sea Streets, that is. Whether realistic or conceptual, literal, idiomatic, or colloquial, etched, chiseled, carved, embossed, hand-painted, stenciled, or manufactured, on wood, metal, ceramic, or stone, in English, Spanish, Italian, or Latin, these artifacts have been inspired by sources as varied as their creative genres. [AUGUSTUS MAYHEW]

From Arcadia to the Wigwam, Palm Beach homeowners were once closely- linked with their house names, as essential as today’s online usernames and hashtags. Palm Beach domain names are a more than century-old tradition. Then, domain names were the only de-rigueur address. Although this custom appears to be vanishing in favor of house numbers, it was a common Palm Beach practice. Now, scattered throughout the island’s landscape, house names also bring to mind the personalities who played a role in Palm Beach’s history. Qui-Si-Sana and Ut-Se-Wa-Na were places known by historians and the postman.

La Casa Sin Nombre, “The House Without a Name.” More than a decade ago, I photographed this polished sculptural stone planted at the Middle Road entrance of John Kluge’s compound. For me, it represented the assembly-line spec houses, staged listings, and anonymous LLCs, too often found among Palm Beach’s revolving-door real estate market in contrast to houses owned by longtime residents that were known by their domain names rather than their square-footage or price tags. [AUGUSTUS MAYHEW]

When Henry Flagler ushered in Newport’s custom of grandiose houses, he set a new standard for Palm Beach as a platform for historical tableaus, theatrical settings, and decorative displays of wealth. Flagler titled his showplace, Whitehall, bestowing a Gilded Age stature to his mansion’s Havana inspired red-tiled roof and central courtyard. Whitehall, like the Royal Poinciana Hotel’s titanic scale, was in contrast to the more informal lakefront cottages. The era’s pre-mansion porch-and-parlor wood-frame cottages, however, were not valued for their dimensions but an incomparable sense of charm — Dulciora, Satinwood, Orangerie, and Rabbit Hill were Palm Beach.

Rabbit Hill, east elevation. South Lake Trail (actually on Chapel Hill Road). [AUGUSTUS MAYHEW]

Originally part of the Brelsford family’s compound, Rabbit Hill was acquired by Flagler’s Florida East Coast Hotel Company before it was sold to James Y. Arnold. What remains of this late 19th-century homestead makes for one of the island’s most significant historic sites, never landmarked by the Town of Palm Beach or nominated for listing in the National Register of Historic Places.

The Old and the New. No matter the countless additions and remodels, houses like Villa dei Fiori and Villa des Cygnes have retained their original names. [AUGUSTUS MAYHEW]

At the South End, Charles Bingham and his wife Mary Payne Bingham kept the name Figulus, meaning “potter,” for their estate, named for the previous pioneer owners, the Potter family. For Richard and Bula Croker, their rambling South Ocean Boulevard cottage became the Wigwam, reflecting Boss Croker’s association with New York’s Tammany Hall where its meeting hall was called the Wigwam. More recently along Billionaires Row, Terry Allen Kramer’s La Follia, and Sydell Miller’s La Reverie.

To the north of The Breakers’ cottage row, Otto Kahn’s Oheka I was built on Sunset Avenue, considered Palm Beach’s pre-WW I Millionaire’s Row. Next door, Tip and Belle Reese’s Bellamar; adjoining them, Casa Mia, Henry and Adele Seligman’s Wyeth-designed seasonal retreat. Across the street, prominent Philadelphia chemist and drug manufacturer S. Ross Campbell and his wife Annie Stuckert Campbell’s seaside Vue de Mer built in 1913.

Just as the North Breakers Row cottages were supplanted with multi-story condominiums, Wewoka, Kawita and Kee-Way-Din, located on the south side of Sunset Avenue, were replaced by the Leverett House condominium. Other landmarks also became condos. Zila Villa was put down to make room for Dunster House. One Royal Palm Way stands in place of Addison Mizner’s Villa Fontana.

On Chilean Avenue, long known anomalously as Chilian Avenue, townhouses and condominiums line the street where yesterday Franklin Villa, Sara-Dan, Palmella, Haus Bovard, and Villa Justine, headed an owner’s stationery and envelopes. On Australian, Passamaquoddy and Cobblehurst.

Cielito Lindo, Dulce Est Desipere in Loco, various translations, “It is sweet to act foolish here sometimes” or something like, “This is a place where you can act foolish at times.” [AUGUSTUS MAYHEW]
Brisas del Mar, “Sea Breezes.” Villa Spiaggia, “Beach House.” Sin Ruido, “Without Noise.” Villa Oiseau, literally “Bird House,” was first known as Las Puertas, “The Doors,” home to Frances “Madame Frances” and Nate Spingold for more than 40 years, not to be confused with Las Puertas Viegas, “The Old Doors,” Louis Bader’s South Ocean Boulevard estate designed by Marion Sims Wyeth. [AUGUSTUS MAYHEW]

Las Puertas has never been designated a local landmark, despite the exceptional Addison Mizner addition. Nate Spingold was a longtime Columbia Pictures executive; more importantly, an expert bridge player. “Madame Frances” was a well-known fashion designer in New York, Paris, and among the Hollywood and Broadway set. The Spingolds’ house guests tended toward Joan Crawford, Mary Pickford, and a host of other celebrities who touched down on Palm Beach during the season.

Louwana may sound like somewhere on a lost map though it was simply an acronym for owner Marie Louise Wanamaker Munn’s North County Road beach house. At 720 South Ocean, El Solano, perhaps forever associated with John Lennon, was named by architect Addison Mizner for his birthplace, Solano County, California. At 172 South Ocean, La Solana, “Sunshine, Bright Light, or East Wind,” was designed by Marion Sims Wyeth for banker Wiley Reynolds. La Billucia defies translation in any language. It too was a contraction for owners Bill and Lucy Kingsley, in spite of the countless times it has been cited as La Bellucia, meaning “Beautiful Light.”

Ditto for Treanor & Fatio’s signature Casa Bella Porta at 195 Via del Mar, built for Detroit industrialist William J. McAnneny. It is now known as Casa Della Porta ever since a repeated 1950s spelling gaffe became the standard. By the time, Eugene and Katherine Howerdd bought the house in 1957, it was known as Casa Della Porta. Even a recent book titled Maurice Fatio: Palm Beach Architect refers to what some consider Fatio’s “grandest” as Casa Della Porta.

Sans Souci & Casa Pequena. Certain house names are irresistible. Although 1800 South Ocean Boulevard was first called Sin Cuidado, Bob and Mary Montgomery renamed their remodeled de-landmarked mansion Sans Souci, since demolished. [AUGUSTUS MAYHEW]

The names of some landmarks survived the wrecking ball, albeit as street signs. Charles and Frances Cragin set their cottage amid the Garden of Eden, one of the island’s earliest experimental botanical stations displaying an extensive showcase of imported exotic plants. Today the Cragins’ site is known as Garden Road and Eden Road. Los Incas and Casa Bendita are also memorialized with street names.

El Mirasol reduced to a curbside street sign. Architect Howard Major is recalled at Major Alley, his influential Peruvian Avenue Bermuda design. [AUGUSTUS MAYHEW]

The Stotesburys named their property El Mirasol in 1917, a year before Addison Mizner arrived at Palm Beach. “The Sunflower” name was a nod to a Santa Barbara estate named El Mirasol, owned by their first Palm Beach designer and close friend, Albert Herter.

Although there was a Wyeth-designed house built on Singer Place (later named Middle Road) called Casa de los Arcos, thirty years later John and Jane Volk gave the same name to their Phipps Plaza townhouse complex during the 1950s. [AUGUSTUS MAYHEW]

While some preferred names echoing their location or natural environs, Vista de Mar-y-Lago on Peruvian or Russell and Vera Hopkins’ lake-to-ocean Arcadia, others imported Spanish and Italian idioms, as if their villa or hacienda existed during the 16th-century or along the Italian Riviera.

La Querida
1095 North Ocean Boulevard

La Querida, 1095 North Ocean Boulevard. Wanamaker-Kennedy house, façade, pictured this week undergoing yet another renovation. [AUGUSTUS MAYHEW]

Following Charles and Mary Munn’s naming their Mizner-designed Palm Beach house Amado, “Beloved”, Louis Rodman Wanamaker christened his beach house La Querida, “Dear One”. The Kennedy family continued calling it La Querida after they bought the house in 1933, according to numerous contemporaneous sources. Nonetheless, because of a likely repeated typographical error it continues to be called La Guerida.

Mrs. Harrison Williams photographed in 1927 at La Querida, the Rodman Wanamaker residence.

La Querida, Wanamaker-Kennedy House, landmarked front entrance. After Carl and Mary Jane Panattoni paid $70 million in June 2020 to an LLC associated with NYC’s Jane Goldman, the new owners received approval for a remodel, yet another. Since 2018, the Newport Beach, California, Panattonis have bought and sold a more than $120 million portfolio of Palm Beach properties. [AUGUSTUS MAYHEW]

White Elephant Palm Beach
280 Sunset Avenue

From the 1920s Boom, when it was conceived as the 60-unit Rosemary Apartments, to the 2020s Boom, transformed into the 32-unit uber modern White Elephant Palm Beach, 280 Sunset Avenue’s various names, owners, and functions make for a fascinating chronicle documenting the past century’s ever-changing market cycles as well as the whims and assumptions in the telling of the resort’s history, unique to Palm Beach’s domain names.

In November 1967, more than 20 years after E. R. Bradley’s death and the Beach Club’s closure and demolition, the Plaza Hotel’s new owner architect Robert W. Richardson renamed it the Bradley House Hotel, “to honor E. R. Bradley.”’ Regrettably, this often resulted in linking Bradley with something more than only being the initial land developer.

According to available records, after E. R and his brother Jack Bradley bought the Sunset Avenue site in 1910, they platted the Floral Park subdivision, engineered street improvements, and sold off the lots. I am not aware of any primary documents/deeds indicating the Bradleys ever owned or built a hotel. Thoroughbred horses, yes; IOU collections, yes.

In Chicago, E. R. was a co-lessee of the Del Pardo Hotel, never an owner, where he ran a private gaming club similar to the Main Street operation. As part of John “Blind John” Condon’s gambling syndicate, the Bradleys operated the Bacchus Club in St. Augustine before opening a venue on Palm Beach and elsewhere.

Here is a look at 280 Sunrise Avenue’s progression from the Styx’s wetland and ponds to hotel suites and room service.

June 2021. White Elephant Palm Beach, 280 Sunset Avenue. [AUGUSTUS MAYHEW]
March 1924. Rosemary Apartments, 280 Sunset Avenue – Palm Beach. S. Ross Campbell, owner-developer. Martin Luther Hampton, architect, Hampton & Ehmann. Chalker & Lund, builder. [PALM BEACH POST ARCHIVE]

Sunset Avenue

Sunset Avenue was first known as Munyon Avenue, named for its owner “Dr. James “Munyon’s Remedies” Munyon, a patent medicine salesman. Munyon, a doctor in name only, owned the lake-to-ocean parcel that was occupied by Blacks who rented various cottages clustered within an area known as the Styx. [1907 SANBORN INSURANCE MAP]
During the Spring of 1910, Beach Club owners/brothers Jack and E. R. Bradley paid Munyon $55,000 for the 264-foot-wide parcel extending from the lake to the ocean that bordered the north side of the Bradleys’ Main Street property. By that December, the Bradleys had spent more than $35,000, dredging 60,000 yards of soil creating an acre of new lakeside ground and filling-in ponds and the marshland where Styx buildings once stood. [PALM BEACH POST ARCHIVE]
December 1911, original plat map. The Bradleys platted their new development as Floral Park, renaming Munyon Avenue as Sunset Avenue. After making improvements, they began selling off the residential and commercial lots. [PALM BEACH COUNTY PROPERTY APPRAISER]

In 1912-1913, Philadelphia chemist-drug manufacturer and philanthropist S. Ross Campbell bought several parcels from the Bradleys on Main Street and Sunset Avenue, including Lots 31-37.  Before Campbell built an apartment-hotel on the Sunset Avenue lots, he built his Vue de Mer residence on the ocean block of Sunset Avenue (1913-1914) and the Campbell Building (1915), a mixed-use commercial building located today at 283 Royal Poinciana Way, the northeast corner of Bradley Place and Royal Poinciana Way. The Campbells docked their houseboat The Quakeress at the lakeside dock on Sunset Avenue; later, their yacht Narcoa.

280 Sunset Avenue. Rosemary Apartments, 1924. Planned for eight “high-class” shops, the four-story building allowed for a 20-foot alley between it and the existing Campbell Building on the corner facing Main Street. Martin L. Hampton, architect. [PALM BEACH POST ARCHIVE]

Architect Martin Luther Hampton was selected to design the Rosemary Apartments. Hampton had been associated with architect August Geiger when Geiger designed the Fashion Beaux Arts Building (1917) on North Lake Trail. Hampton also worked for Addison Mizner during the building of the Everglades Club, credited with the club’s Moorish-style golf building with an onion-shaped roof. When Paris Singer decided to add a ten-story hotel addition to his Whitehall Club in 1925, he also selected Hampton as the architect. Hampton and his partner E. A. Ehmann became prominent Miami-based architects with 12 of their buildings listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Coral Gables Country Club. Martin L. Hampton, architect, Hampton & Ehmann. [STATE OF FLORIDA ARCHIVE, FLORIDA MEMORY]
Coral Gables Inn. Martin L. Hampton, architect, Hampton & Ehmann. Demolished 2020. [STATE OF FLORIDA ARCHIVE, FLORIDA MEMORY]
Whitehall, hotel addition. Martin L. Hampton, architect, Hampton & Ehmann. [STATE OF FLORIDA ARCHIVE, FLORIDA MEMORY]
Everglades Club, view through the Moorish-styled arched arcade looking north toward the Marble Patio. Hampton worked for Mizner during the building of the Everglades Club credited with the Moorish-styled golf course building with the onion roof, since demolished. The arcade is a visually close match for what Hampton originally designed for the Rosemary Apartments, enclosing the courtyard and linking the building’s two wings. Clearly, this addition would have enhanced the hotel’s architectural standing rather than the now existing hedges and distracting bull-nosed awnings. [STATE OF FLORIDA ARCHIVE, FLORIDA MEMORY]

From the Rose May-Rosa May Apartment to the Algemac Hotel

Rose May – Rosa May Apartment, March 1924 and December 1924. [PALM BEACH POST ARCHIVE]
Hotel Rosa May. In March 1925, a fire devastated The Breakers and the Palm Beach Hotel, resulting in guests for the fireproofed Hotel Rosa May, renamed by new owners the Algemac Hotel during the summer of 1925. [PALM BEACH POST ARCHIVE]
Algemac Hotel, June 1925. The Alliance Realty Company bought the Rosa May Hotel and the adjacent Campbell Building. [PALM BEACH POST ARCHIVE]
The Alliance Realty Company renamed the hotel with an acronym derived from their principals’ names, George McNeir, Burrows McNeir, and William Hardin. Biltmore Apartments. Two months before buying the Rosa May, Alliance paid $250,000 for the Biltmore apartment building on the southeast corner of Sunset Avenue and County Road. At the same time, Alliance also built the three-story Monterey Hotel in downtown West Palm Beach, designed by architect William Manly King. [PALM BEACH POST ARCHIVE]
Algemac Hotel, c. 1933. Aerial, looking southeast. George McNeir and his brother Burrows named their yacht the Algemac. Years later, the cottage to the left of the hotel would eventually be demolished, making room for a parking lot. Across the streets, existing cottages and shops with apartments were removed during the late 1960s-early 1970s to make room for the Publix parking lot. [HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF PALM BEACH COUNTY]
Palm Beach Plaza Hotel. Lina King Paty took over the Algemac in 1934, renaming it the Palm Beach Plaza Hotel. [PALM BEACH POST ARCHIVE]

A hotel owner from Tennessee, Lina King Paty arrived in West Palm Beach following the end of World War I, co-leasing the newly-built, four-story, 72-room Royal Palm Hotel with J. J. Raney. Located at the western foot of the Royal Palm bridge on Lakeview Avenue in West Palm Beach, the Royal Palm opened in November 1922. A decade later, Paty operated the Vineta Hotel, now the Chesterfield Hotel, that was in receivership. In 1934, she took over the Algemac and renamed it.

During the 1940s, the Plaza Hotel sold twice. First, in 1944 for $110,000 to A. A. Winer and Sorrel Rose Bollet. At the time, the hotel was owned by Palm Beach Algemac Properties, George Bensel, president, and Paul Twitty, secretary. Then, two years later, when a contract with Dr. A. D. Jansik, who operated the Safety Harbor Spa for many years, for $215,000 failed to close, Jansik transferred his contract to Mr. & Mrs. George Flick of Evanston, Illinois.

In 1950, Sorrel Bollet and her husband Chester DeVoe, who owned the adjacent building on Royal Poinciana Way, repurchased the hotel from the Flicks. [PALM BEACH POST ARCHIVE]
Bradley House Hotel, November 1967. Owner-architect Robert W. Richardson renamed the Plaza Hotel, calling it the Bradley House, with plans for air-conditioning a 40-unit seasonal rental apartment complex. The Ardma Hotel at 215 Brazilian Avenue became known as the Palm Beach Plaza Hotel. [PALM BEACH POST ARCHIVE]
“Old Town Flavor at Palm Beach.” For nearly a decade, the Algemac was remembered as the “Algomac Room.”. [PALM BEACH POST ARCHIVE]
Bradley House Hotel, 1975. During the 1970s, the Bradley House was comprised of 12 apartments and 28 hotel rooms. Annual rentals were $295 monthly. In 1975, owner Robert Richardson announced plans to convert the apartment-hotel into an office condominium, stating “the noise makes the hotel less desirable.” In 1977, a triumvirate of Palm Beach restaurateurs opened the Pappagallo Restaurant. The following year, architects Richardson and Twitty attempted to obtain a zoning change to convert the hotel into a banking facility with a drive-in window along the east side. [PALM BEACH POST ARCHIVE]

In October 1978, Richardson sold the property to the Gladwyne Corporation. The following year, Gladwyne, an entity associated with Ft. Lauderdale investor-hedge fund manager George G. Levin and his then wife Gayla Sue Levin, transferred the property to a company called the Bradley House Ltd. In November 1979, it deeded the property to the New Bradley House Ltd.

George Levin headed Banyon Investors Fund that reportedly dropped more than $800 million in convicted lawyer Scott Rothstein’s $1.4 billion Ponzi scheme, making Levin the scheme’s largest contributor, according to newspaper reports. During the 1990s, Levin headed GGL Industries. The company pleaded guilty to mail fraud and paid a $2.5 million fine.

In April 2018, New Bradley House LTD, represented by the since divorced Gayla Levin, sold 280 Sunset Avenue for in excess of $15 million to Bradley Park Owner LLC, a company that also owns the White Elephant Resorts on Nantucket Island.

White Elephant Palm Beach, north elevation. June 2021. [AUGUSTUS MAYHEW]
White Elephant Palm Beach, courtyard. June 2021. [AUGUSTUS MAYHEW]
White Elephant Palm Beach, entrance. June 2021. [AUGUSTUS MAYHEW]

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