Palm Beach Social Diary: 2019 GOG A GOGO Spring Disco Ball

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"This Girl is On Fire" goes "Disco Inferno" at the Gentlemen of the Garden's GOG A GOGO Spring Disco Ball, hosted by Bob Eigelberger and Susie Phipps Cochran beneath their Big Tree at Studio 441. In keeping with GOG's philosophy, "a good time for a good cause," Saturday Night's Fever attracted more than 300 supporters for a night of drinks, a silent auction, dinner, and dancing. Simply sensational!

The Gentlemen of the Garden, founded in 1991, has raised more than $1 million for the landscaping and environmental improvement of area gardens, including the Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens and the Mounts Botanical Garden. Recently, GOG members have been assisting with the Tranquility Garden at the Mounts. Although many of the dogs have barked and much of the seasonal caravan has moved on to points north, the organization’s spring benefit may have been its most successful. Along with a look at Saturday night’s discomania, a retrospective on Bob Eigelberger, a GOG charter member, whose accomplishments during the past several decades played a significant role in preserving Palm Beach’s character.

April 20, 2019 – 6 pm
2019 GOG A GOGO Disco Ball
Casa Phippsberger – Palm Beach

Jonathan Cameron-Hayes, right, president of GOG, with Maurizio Candotti Russo and Anne Ilyinsky whose father Paul Romanovsky-Ilyinsky was a popular three-time mayor of Palm Beach, and only slightly more remote, the great-grandson of Tsar Alexander II of Russia.
Gentlemen of the Garden founder James Richard “Jim” Butler (1934-1995) is remembered with an Irish touch in this memorial epitaph planted at the Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens. In 1991, Butler was joined by 21 charter members to form the organization that today continues to assist the area’s gardens that he and his wife Veronica Boswell Butler supported more than 25 years ago.
L. to r.: Whitney Cameron-Hayes; Diane de la Bègassiére.
Hey! The invitation said Palm Beach …
Kimberly Maloomian and Theodore Iorio.
Guests on the move arrive for a night of Jungle Disco.
L to r.: Veronica Nestora; Trish Carroll and Warrington Gillet III.
Cheryl McKee.
“Being Photographed.” Jay and Dihann Cochran with their son golfer Rafe Cochran.
Celia Cochran and Geoff Jervis.
Guests congregated on the West Terrace where the Mediterranean Market kept the starter trays filled before everyone moved on to the North Courtyard for dinner and dancing.
Wynn Laffey, Pam Howard, Elizabeth Leatherman, and Bill Leatherman.
When I asked Wynn about his grassy soles, he said, “Susie gave me these sandals for my birthday; wearing them for the first time.”
Bill Rollnick and photographer Nancy Ellison Rollnick.
West Terrace. The silent auction featured work by many local artists, including GOG member photographer Bob Hall.
L. to r.: Sculptor Jane Manus; Sculptor Edwina Sandys.
Carole Phillips and Duncan Sandys.
L. to r.: Irina Smirnova; Pam Logan.
Bob and Donna Hall.
L. to r.: Charlie Willis and Francesca Briggs Reeve; Daniel Castro and Cynthia Van Buren.
Alfonso De Landa and Elizabeth Hoadley.
Ladies Night Out to ‘Dance Dance Dance.”
Morgan Simses and Lucky O’Donnell.
Dennis and Cynthia Kanai.
Josef and Andrea Huainigg.
Arriving for a night in the Palm Beach Jungle …
Sue and Jay Hoker.
By 8, the West Terrace was SRO.
Dinner followed in the North Courtyard.
Scrims projected laser light shows and provided cover from the brightness of a million stars and a waning full moon.
Guests feasted on kebabs and other Mediterranean delicacies.

Disco Inferno

As the night progressed, finding the way back to the table made for a challenge.
Cynthia Van Buren.
A change of pace from candlelight dinners.
The sound from the surrounding fountains amid the ferns and bromeliads added to the Happening.
Nightscape at Casa Phippsberger.
In the jungle …
Guests at dinner.
At Studio 441 sometime between “Stayin Alive” and “I Will Survive,” the ambience became progressively kaleidoscopic.
Disco plenipotentiary Bob Eigelberger.

Bob Eigelberger: Landmarks & Landscapes

At a time when Palm Beach residents attacked the Landmarks Preservation Commission with threats of lawsuits, Bob Eigelberger took on historic projects that others sought to bulldoze. Eigelberger’s numerous preservation efforts took place despite the opposition of formidable civic groups and a front page editorial in The Palm Beach Daily News. In 1988 the Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach awarded Eigelberger its first Ballinger Award for his adaptive restorations of the Warden House and Bienestar. Several years later, he and his wife Susan Phipps Cochran downsized their North End holdings. With the remaining six-acre property, the couple have revived much of the landscape sense and setting that originally made Palm Beach a scenic botanical destination. When Phipps’ great-grands first arrived on Palm Beach, Paris, London and New York photographers converged during the season to photo swells next to the barrier island’s colossal trees. Casa Phippsberger, as it has become known, clearly stands apart from the town’s hedged-and-manicured streets. As accomplished a horticulturist and landscape designer as he was a historic preservationist, Bob Eigelberger’s pioneering work has made a lasting impact on Palm Beach.

Warden House: From Shamble to Showplace

Warden House, 112 Seminole Avenue. Palm Beach, c. 1980. A St. Louis native where he pursued commercial development endeavors, Bob Eigelberger moved to Palm Beach during the 1970s, becoming involved in the Town’s early preservation efforts, serving on the Landmarks Preservation Commission. “Eigelberger is a hardhearted businessman and a softhearted preservationist,” said Barbara Hoffstot, Landmarks Commission’s first co-chairman and author of the influential Landmark Architecture of Palm Beach. Photo Palm Beach Daily News Archive.
Warden House, east elevation. After five years of neglect, including two years of litigation attempts to demolish the house and rezone the property, Eigelberger was able to acquire the Warden House in June 1979.
Warden House, east elevation. c. 1980. Standing in the pool, Eigelberger’s success influenced the potential for reviving the Town’s historic landmarks. Photo Palm Beach Daily News Archive.
Warden House, Ground Floor Plan. Eigelberger gained approval for a six-unit condominium with only the slightest change to the landmark’s exterior. Courtesy National Park Service.
Warden House, aerial. Despite being an aesthetic and financial success, Eigelberger was unable to gain approvals for development plans for Villa Flora, Sin Cuidado, and Mar-a-Lago. The recent demolition of Sin Cuidado at 1800 South Ocean Boulevard erased one of Mizner’s museum-like interiors. “If only…if only …,” expressed Eigelberger, recalling the Town’s unwillingness to allow him to add three houses to Mar-a-Lago and augment 1800 SOB, then described by the Town Council as ” … the creeping tide of multi-family buildings …” Courtesy National Park Service.
Warden House, north elevation. Pen-and-ink sketch, Whitney Cushing artist. Courtesy Bob Eigelberger.
Carstairs House. 280 North Ocean Blvd. Addison Mizner, architect. The Carstairs House was one of several restorations Eigelberger completed for other owners.
Bienestar, 1987. Grace Trail. Marion Sims Wyeth, architect. A professed “environmental planner, Eigelberger pursued converting Bienestar, referred to as “a white elephant” in the mid 1980s. The Town Council did approve Eigelberger’s conversion and adaptation plans for Bienestar. Photo Palm Beach Daily News Archive.
Bob Eigelberger, recipient of the first Robert I. Ballinger Award for Excellence in Architecture.
Casa Pacifico, advertisement. At the same time Eigelberger pursued preservation projects, he developed newbuilds inspired by Palm Beach’s 1920s Spanish and Italian motifs. Rather than pursue the maximum square footages and volumes now rampant on Palm Beach, Eigelberger’s houses reflected the scale of the surrounding homes.
A charter member of the Gentlemen of the Garden Group in the early 1990s, Bob was also developing his horticultural interests, pictured above with his son Inigo Eigelberger at one of GOG’s legendary benefits at Casa Phippsberger. Photo Lucien Capehart (a GOG member). Palm Beach Daily News Archive.
Bob Eigelberger, Town Hall. During the 1980s and 1990s, Eigelberger was a familiar figure at Town Hall, especially after he and his wife decided to sell part of the Phipps family’s Casa Bendita estate, at one time, extending for 28 acres. Photo Palm Beach Daily News Archive.
Phipps Estate, c. 1990. After the estate’s subdivision was approved, Bob and Susie faced the daunting task of reorienting their remaining six-acre North End estate.
Phipps estate, aerial, showing Casa Phippsberger’s original secluded siting before the subdivision.

Here is a look at Casa Phippsberger 2009 @ NYSD from a visit ten years ago.

Casa Phippsberger / April 2019

“Every garden needs a plan … there need to be views and much broader vistas …” Having collected tens of thousand of trees and plants representing thousands of various species that has taken him to jungles and rain forests from Southeast Asia to South America, Eigelberger has transformed the six-acre complex of formal and informal gardens sheltered by tropical settings into a seamless environment.

An Old Palm Beach tableau at one of the estate’s several entrances. A member of the American Horticultural Society and Fairchild Tropical Garden, Eigelberger is a member of the Garden Club of Palm Beach, having served on the boards of the Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens and Mounts Botanical Garden.
Central allée, looking from above, a view beyond the south terrace. A collection of palms bordered with bromeliads, ferns, and cycads. “Bob’s passion for landscape design and his dedicated pursuit of exotic plants and trees take gardening to the top level,” observed Polly Reed, chairman of the Friends of the Mounts Botanical Garden.
East Gardens entrance flanked by ponytail palms. Beyond, a vegetable garden and fruit orchard.
West Gardens entrance framed by ponytail palms, leading to the cutting garden and flowering exotics.
South Terrace. Table centerpiece.
South Terrace. Table centerpiece.
South Terrace. A burst of yellow.
South Terrace. A Mizner blue clay container holds an exotic bonsai.
South Terrace. Along a walk, a spray of pink.
North Courtyard. View from above.
North Courtyard. Staghorn ferns anchor the Great Tree surrounded by traditional brick pavers.
North Terrace. Bromeliad towers abound.
L. to r.: North Terrace. As much sculptural as botanical; East Garden. Pineapple ready to harvest.
East Garden. A blazing torch ginger.
Several mango varieties waiting to ripen.
Tomatoes picked and plated.
East Garden. A Golden Bouquet Tree from The Bahamas.

Bordering the palms

Eigelberger Border
Mounts Botanical Garden

Mounts Botanical Garden, West Palm Beach.
Eigelberger Border. “Educating Sarah,” a sculpture by Robert St. Croix.
Eigelberger Border.
Eigelberger Border.
A Cuban old man tree.
Angel’s trumpets.

Garden of Tranquility. Eigelberger donated the garden’s centerpiece, a Balinese wood carving.

At Casa Phippsberger …

” … looks like a Sting Ray, doesn’t it?” Elephant ear sting ray (Alocasia hybris).
Wisps of brilliant color from Thailand.
“This is so amazing, this plant from Ecuador … many different shades of green and leafing …”
Bismarckia silvery blue palm.
A multitude of palms …


Of the more than 100 varieties of crotons, petras and mammys among them, the most kaleidoscopic can be found in the various gardens at Casa Phippsberger. “The brightness of the colors often look Chinese … ”

Among the palms & cycads …

“The palms do well in summer storms. The trees not so well, they uproot and tumble …”

Debao Cycad, native to areas of southern China.

In the herb and cutting garden …

From the shaded potting area, looking east toward the pool.

Delicious ginger.

One of several Ruin Wall assemblages.
East courtyard. View east from Eigelberger’s office.
East courtyard. “The stone bench is from Casa Bendita …”
“The fountain light is the only pool lighting at night …”
Harry surveys his domain …


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