Palm Beach Social Diary: Kips Bay at Palm Beach

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Interior designer Susan Zises Green’s tableau Studio Apartment for Rent is one of 17 showcases featured at the inaugural Kips Bay Palm Beach Show House that benefits New York’s Kips Bay Boys & Girl Club and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County. New York-Palm Beach-Atlanta-Chicago designers have joined together in this initial effort that promises to be an annual event.

Palm Beach and New York have shared an enduring social history ever since Henry Flagler transformed Palm Beach from a refuge to a resort playground bringing well-heeled pleasure seekers for a winter season of sunshine, cake walks and roulette. This season’s first Kips Bay Palm Beach Show House represents a continuation of that  zeitgeist. When the local Red Cross organization shelved its perennial Show House fundraiser, the NYC Kips Bay Decorator Show House group reinstated the popular affair with a Palm Beach version of its signature Manhattan benefit in collaboration with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County. Established more than a century ago, Kips Bay serves 10,000 children; the Palm Beach organization’s 13 clubs reach more than 8,000 children.

Kips Bay Palm Beach Show House benefits NY+PB Boys & Girls Clubs
Villa Belmonte – 196 Belmonte Road, West Palm Beach
November 25, 2017 – December 19, 2017

A garden sculpture welcomes guests along the front walkway.

The much anticipated inaugural tableau spotlights Bunny Williams, honorary design chairwoman, with Ellie Cullman and Pauline Pitt serving as co-chairwomen of the patina-and-pattern showcase. The November 24 VIP preview party committee included honorary chairmen Richard and Virginia Simmons, chairmen Wally and Betsy Turner and junior chairmen Nick and Caroline Rafferty. Among the well-appointed design firms that will reimagine each room at Villa Belmonte are Ellen Kavanaugh Interiors, Amanda Lindroth Interior Design, McCann Design Group, Caroline Rafferty Interiors, Christopher Maya Inc., foley&cox, Bradfield & Tobin, Susan Zises Green Inc., Mabley Handler Interior Design, Robert Brown Interior Design, Design Galleria Kitchen and Bath Studio, Vincere Ltd., Bierly-Drake Associates, Stephen Mooney Interiors, Phillip Gorrivan Design, Lisa Erdmann & Associates, and Fernando Wong Outdoor Living Design. 

Belmonte Road, El Cid Park subdivision. 1925. Before acquiring oceanfront property along Palm Beach’s North End, the Henry Phipps family owned a stretch of lakefront property on the West Side, as West Palm Beach was once popularly known. In 1922 Phipps’ son John S. Phipps, as president of the Palm Beach Company, platted the first of three residential subdivisions named El Cid.

Villa Belmonte’s current owner, the Angus G. Donnelley Trust, donated the use of the venue for the fundraising event. The R. R. Donnelley & Sons (1844-2005) publishing family archive is housed at the University of Chicago Library. More locally the family was involved in the development and transformation of the Lantana Boatyard into major yacht building center, begun by Ellliott R. Donnelley in 1965. While the eclectic villa has undergone considerable additions and modifications since 1925 when it was first owned by Frank and Grace Hannon as a modest two-bedroom house, it remains sympathetic to the Spanish and Italian influences that first defined the El Cid Historic District as conceived by developer John S. Phipps’ Palm Beach Company.

A CPA in New Hampshire and New York, Hannon moved to West Palm Beach in 1923 as secretary of the Olympia Company that was developing the Jupiter-Hobe Sound area. Headed by Malcolm Meacham, Anthony Joseph Drexel Biddle and Benjamin Duke, the Olympia Company eventually went bust but is often credited with introducing the New York-Long Island Treanor & Fatio architectural firm to the Palm Beach area with its then “junior partner” Maurice Fatio. After a stint as city manager and tax assessor for the City of West Palm Beach during the 1930s, Hannon became executive secretary of the Palm Beach Civic Association from 1945 until 1968.

El Cid, advertisement. Major landowners from Palm Beach to Miami, in 1936 John S. Phipps merged the Palm Beach Company, Gulf Stream Company, and the Beach & Pools Company (owner of the legendary Gus’ Bath), into the family-owned Bessemer Properties Inc.

Here are some of my impressions during the Show House press preview.

Fernando Wong Outdoor Living Design, view from the loggia north to the courtyard.
The Tassel Lounge. Vestibule. Ellen Kavanaugh, Ellen Kavanaugh Interiors. First Impressions.
Orchid House-Dining Room. Amanda Redd Lindroth, Amanda Lindroth Design, Palm Beach-Nassau. I had not seen Amanda in decades; since she was with Fairchild. Her mother Marylou Redd and I were friends years ago when we spent our time at City Hall meetings trying to stop the demolition of historic buildings.
Tented Breakfast Room. Christopher Maya Associates Inc.
Christopher Maya.
Quintessential Kitchen. Matthew Quinn Design Galleria – Kitchen and Bath Studio.
Quintessential Kitchen by Design Galleria-Atlanta.
Family Room, Soggiorno. Philip Gorrivan Design.
Soggiorno. Designer Philip Gorrivan seated in front of the room’s hand-painted and hand-sculpted seamless scenic wallcovering by MJ Atelier.
Den Domestique. foley&cox interiors.
Den Domestique. foley&cox interiors.
Mary Foley, foley&cox interiors.
Library. Stephen Mooney Interiors.
Andrea’s Retreat. Bierly Drake Associates.
Andrea’s Retreat. Christopher Drake, Bierly Drake Associates. Fine Art provided by Wally Findlay Galleries International.
The Study. Mabley Handler Interior Design. Wallpaper is Phillip Jeffries.
Mabley Handler Interior Design.
Master Bedroom. Robert Brown Interior Design.
Master Library. Caroline Rafferty, Caroline Rafferty Interiors.
Master Sitting Room. Lisa Erdmann & Associates. The wallcovering is F. Schumacher.
Bedroom-A Contemporary Grand Tour. Roric Tobin for Bradfield & Tobin.
Bedroom-A Contemporary Grand Tour. Roric Tobin for Bradfield & Tobin. Scenic mural by Holton Arts.
Stair Tower-Seagrape Stairway. McCann Design Group. Mural paintings by Marc Beauregard.
Stair Tower-Seagrape Stairway and Alcove. McCann Design Group.
Powder Room. Vincere Ltd.- Chicago. Michael Stornello and Tom Konopiots, principals. Bahamian beach hand-painted wallpaper on tarnished silver gilded silk with désargenter pearlescent antiquing by de Gournay.
Powder Room. Vincere Ltd. Veil toilet & Kathryn sink by Kohler.
Studio Apartment for Rent. Susan Zises Green Inc.
Studio Apartment for Rent. Susan Zises Green Inc.
Garden & Loggia. Fernando Wong Outdoor Living Design.
Garden & Loggia. Fernando Wong Outdoor Living Design.
Garden & Loggia. Fernando Wong Outdoor Living Design.
Landscape designer Fernando Wong.

Photography by Augustus Mayhew.

Augustus Mayhew is the author of Palm Beach-A Greater Grandeur

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