Palm Beach Social Diary Showtime! Palm Beach

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The sensational Ann Norton Sculpture Garden was the setting for more than 300 of its supporters attending a reception for Sculpture in Motion, an exhibition celebrating the art of 20th-century automotive design curated by John Barnes, founder of the Cavallino Classic.

The Palm Beach season has spent 120 years in the international spotlight. Nonetheless, the arrival of Roman Abramovich’s 533-foot yacht Eclipse docked at the Port of Palm Beach, a tad lengthier than billionaire Ken Griffin’snew cottageand the POTUS comings-and-goings down at the Old Post House have many Palm Beachers mapping logistics for Plan B and Plan C during one of the barrier island’s busiest weeks made even more labyrinthine considering Everyone is Someone.

No matter, rest assured, residential construction will not stop. I spent the past several days walking on the National Croquet Hall of Fame and motoring over to the Ann Norton’s sensational garden-turned-vintage car showroom.

Eclipse touches down in Palm Beach.

November 17, 2017
National Croquet Hall of Fame Gala: A Red Hot Havana Night
Charles B. Steuber National Croquet Center
700 Florida Mango Road – West Palm Beach

The Croquet Foundation of America welcomed more than 125 guests to its annual Hall of Fame Gala honoring Palm Beach-Delray Beach architect Digby Bridges for his six decades of commitment advancing the sport of croquet. Held at the National Croquet Center that was designed by Bridges, the longtime Ocean Ridge-Capetown resident has wielded a mallet as a croqueteer in South Africa, England and the United States, winning the 1994 U.S. Senior Men’s Amateur Championship.

The Hall of Fame was organized to recognize croquet’s exemplary players and illustrious advocates who have furthered the sport’s values. This exalted pantheon includes John Donnell, Margaret Emerson, Samuel Goldwyn, Barton & Walter Gubelmann, W. Averell Harriman, Moss Hart, George S. Kaufman, Arthur “Harpo” Marx, Archie Peck, Lillian “Lil” Phipps, Dorothy Rodgers, Patricia Supper, Herbert Bayard Swope Sr., Joseph & Catherine Tankoos, Alexander Wolcott, Gig Young, and Darryl Zanuck.

Palm Beach-Delray Beach architect Digby Bridges, center, with his wife Gay, left, and daughter Whitney Rosenthal, right, arriving  for Digby’s induction into the National Croquet Hall of Fame. I first met Digby 30 years ago when he was one of the earliest supporters of historic preservation efforts. Several years later, he presented me with the AIA Historic Preservation Award. Thank you Digby! After study in South Africa and the U.K., Bridges was a practicing architect in London during the Beatles-era before relocating to South Florida. He first established his architectural practice, Bridges Marsh & Associates, in Delray Beach where he was known for his affable manner and signature khaki bush jacket and shorts at City Hall meetings. Within a few years, he and longtime partner Mark Marsh opened a Palm Beach bureau on Via Mizner. Although now retired from the firm he and Marsh first organized in 1977, his extensive restoration/renovation of Jim Clark’s Il Palmetto, design for Bill Koch’s British Colonial style South Ocean Boulevard estate, and the 2015 makeover of Worth Avenue with its iconic clock tower, are just a few of his many Palm Beach accomplishments during the moments he was away from the croquet court.
Croquet Foundation of America president W. David McCoy welcomed guests to the Hall of Fame event at the National Croquet Center, designed by honoree Digby Bridges. In a recent interview, Bridges said, “I have always been devoted to the sport and building the croquet center was one of my favorite projects.” The pink-and-white 1956 Ford Sunliner convertible has a 312-V8 transmission, part of the Ragtops Automobile Museum Collection.
Croquet Foundation of America, Hall of Fame Gala committee.
Charles P. Steuber, portrait. In 2000-2002 New York-Boca Raton shipping pioneer and croquet aficionado Chuck Steuber bought a 10-acre parcel land in West Palm Beach and funded the building of the National Croquet Center that 15 years later is still regarded as the world’s largest croquet facility, familiarly called “Chuck’s Place.” The 19,000 square-foot Center houses the Croquet Foundation of America, United States Croquet Association, National Croquet Club, US Croquet Hall of Fame, and the Croquet Museum.
Tim Bitting.
Mona Wolter and Joan Burns.
L. to r.: Betty Devitt.; Missy Chilton.
Stephen Grassbaugh and Pat Spratt.
L. to r.: Fred Devitt.; Sandy James Fine Foods, the exclusive in-house caterer at the croquet club, supplied the delicious hors d’oeuvre during the cocktail hour.
L. to r.: Millie McCoy.; 2014 Hall of Fame inductee W. David McCoy.
L. to r.: Lisa Jankowski.; Ray Polley.

From the display cases

In croquet, men and women compete on an even playing field.
Guests donned their guayaberas, island shirts and jungle prints. Interior designer Michael Rainey is credited with the center’s original mahogany paneling and coffered ceilings.
The invitation’s “Tropical attire” request was interpreted in a variety of forms.

Croquet Hall of Fame Induction of Digby Bridges

Croquet Foundation president David McCoy did the honors as Digby was fitted with his Hall of Fame red jacket.
The honoree shared his appreciation for the honor.

Croquet Gallery

The collection includes a painting of London’s Hurlingham Club where Digby once played when he was an architect in England during the 1960s-1970s before moving to South Florida.
After the Induction ceremony, dinner was served on the second floor.
The dining room décor was set with a tropical flavor.
Table #1 Guests.
Finishing stake.
A last look at that Ford Sunliner with a Continental kit ($49,900).

November 18, 2017
Classic Car concours benefits Ann Norton Sculpture Garden
2051 South Flagler Drive – West Palm Beach

However much the Ann Norton Sculpture Garden might always be overshadowed by the nearby venerable Norton Art Museum, the garden’s multi-faceted aesthetic appeal and sublime setting more than offsets the art museum’s presence.  Saturday night’s Sculpture in Motion – Vintage Cars & Classic Cocktail Reception co-chaired by Frances & Jeff Fisher  and Audrey & Martin Gruss welcomed more than 300 guests to support the Ann Norton’s programs as well as judge an array of veteran, vintage and post-vintage automobiles displayed in the garden-turned-showroom. Honorary chairman John Barnes, founder of the renowned Cavallino Classic, curated the one-day only event attended during the day by as many as 500 enthusiasts. Rather than silver cups or plaques, award-winners received something just as apropos, champagne magnums. 

1963 Rolls Royce Silver Cloud III H.J. Mulliner Convertible. I arrived a few moments before the sudden darkness as I appreciate ambling around for a closer look at the one-of-a-kind design qualities and enduring craftsmanship.
The weather was as extraordinary as the museum-quality cars on display. The gardens are only just recovering from Hurricane Irma.
Martin and Audrey Gruss co-chaired the event.
Co-chair and ANSG president Frances Fisher with major sponsor Sentient Jet representatives, executive vice-president Peter Ockerbloom, left, and right, Joe Bachand, sales director.
Founder of the Cavallino Classic, John Barnes served as honorary chairman and guest curator.
L. to r.: Roger Ward, ANSG president and CEO.; Myrna Haft.
Polly Reed and Anne Pepper.

Sculpture in Motion

A Packard Darrin convertible.
As sublime as any Brancusi — a 1939 Peugeot 402 Darl’mat Roadster — Most Artistic Award. Worthy of a Methuselah.
A 1966 Jaguar XK-E of some note — Pegasus Collection, Audrey & Martin Gruss Collection.
1966 Jaguar XK-E, a second look.

Now showing in the Main House Gallery

The Ann Weaver Norton: Gateways to Modernism exhibit will close November 26.
The gallery exhibit includes a diverse mix of Norton’s work.
Ray Wakefield and David Miller.
L. to r.: Jonathan and Whitney Cameron-Hayes.; Laura and Jim Freeman.
L. to r.: Karl and Teryn Weintz.; Regan and John Rupp.
1964 Maserati, A6/GCS Spyder.
Chrysler’s C-39 Town and Country convertible owned by David and Doreen Salzman.
“Super Charged.”
1958 Nash Metropolitan. The People’s Choice Award winner garners a glance from Art Miami’s Nick Korniloff and Pamela Cohen.
Christina and Benjamin Macfarland III with Frances Fisher.
Sensational designs complemented the Norton sculptures in the garden.
Lee & Shari Fox.
The Peugeot on the right is of special note.
Every time I see this particular Ann Norton sculpture it becomes something more.
Most Elegant Award. The 1931 Phantom II Continental Rolls Royce caught my eye, designed perhaps more for chauffeur-driven London fogs and countryside than the salt spray and offshore winds along North Ocean Boulevard. During the bustle of the booming 1920s reportedly there were more Rolls Royces parked on Golf View Road than anywhere else in the world, even Sunset Boulevard. Of course, the Huttons probably owned most of them. A Rolls Royce showroom stopped traffic on Worth Avenue. More importantly, there was an exclusive Rolls Royce mechanic stationed on Royal Palm Way.
The 1931 Phantom II Continental Rolls Royce on the road. Courtesy Vantage Motorworks.
The Sculpture in Motion exhibit at the Concours d’Ann Norton was a fascinating affair. 1958 Nash Metropolitan. People’s Choice AwardFrances & Jeffrey Fisher Collection.

Photography by Augustus Mayhew.

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

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