Palm Beach Social Diary The Great, the Grand & the Great-Grands

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Christmas in Palm Beach. Realtor Lawrence Moens’ outdoor holiday tree adds a touch of seasonal cheer to South Ocean Boulevard. Last year I tried photographing the tree at night but the constant ocean breeze had the lights swaying, making for a bit of a briny blur. This year I thought daytime light might be just as much fun, especially with the splendid coconut palms.

With real estate sales of note appearing to be on a holiday hiatus, I wandered over to Bradley Park Saturday morning for the momentous kickoff of the Centennial Commission’s marathon of events commemorating the Town of Palm Beach’s 100th anniversary. There is nothing like a tent in Bradley Park to draw a crowd. And though it will be six months before Worth Avenue’s vertical wall takes full form, thanks to the vision of the Garden Club of Palm Beach, I thought it still made for a spectacular addition to a shopping street where superlative is the only accepted standard. Friday I stopped in on the Garden Club’s holiday boutique on the terrace at The King Library to check out their annual fundraiser. Then, down to the Oasis Circle, yet another Garden Club project, “between the clubs,” the B & T and the Mar-A-Lago clubs, that is. It reminds me that beyond the Garden Club’s sponsoring of the Town Plan of 1929, Palm Beach’s first planning commission had three Garden Club members on the board. Then, a few words in memory of Don Curl, author, historian, preservation advocate and friend, who played a key role in changing people’s view and estimation of Palm Beach architecture.

Palm Beach Centennial Commission launches Town’s 100th celebration
Saturday, December 11, 11 a.m., Bradley Park

The Town of Palm Beach Centennial Commission’s guests included the winners of a local essay contest for school children, six of them seen in the front row. As part of their reward, they were the ones who pulled the cover off the Henry M. Flagler bronze statue.

Palm Beach’s civic-minded omnium gatherum elitum converged on Bradley Park Saturday morning under a white tent, albeit not at Whitehall, to mark the Centennial Commission’s presentation of a bronze Henry Flagler statue generously donated by G. F. Robert Hanke, a Flagler great-grand, to the Town of Palm Beach. The event was the first formal event celebrating the island’s first century since it incorporated in 1911. Centennial chairman Bill Bone was joined by the Town’s Centennial ambassadors, and more than 200 residents and guests, in welcoming the latest addition of Flaglerian grandeur strategically placed in the Royal Poinciana Way median facing west towards the Flagler Memorial Bridge, making certain all who enter Palm Beach take note of Mr. Flagler’s presence.

The Centennial ambassadors include Lian Fanjul de Azqueta, Helen Cluett, Alfonso Fanjul, J. Pepe Fanjul, Dame Celia Lipton Farris, Marjorie Fisher, the late Frances Archbold Hufty, Leonard Lauder, Morton Mandel, Brownie McLean, Ogden Phipps, Lilly Pulitzer Rousseau, Stanley M. Rumbaugh Jr., Rose Sachs, and the Honorable Lesly Smith.

L. to r.: Henry Flagler may have thought he left Palm Beach forever when his funeral train took him back to St. Augustine in 1913; alas, the Palm Beach Centennial Commission has brought him back, in the form of a bronze statue, cast from the same mold as Flagler’s St. Augustine statue.; The Honorable Jack McDonald, mayor of Palm Beach, welcomed residents and guests to the Centennial program.

For the next several months leading up to April 11, 2011, the Town’s incorporation date, the Centennial Commission will be staging a series of activities commemorating the auspicious occasion, including talk of a promised parade. Of course, don’t expect Fifi Widener costumed as Sabu riding an elephant down Worth Avenue; golf carts sputtering down Cocoanut Row, maybe.

Although there was no full orchestra, no sound of champagne being uncorked, or trays of cucumber sandwiches being passed by white-gloved waiters, Palm Beachers are down to their last $2 trillion, there were delicious small cups of orange juice from the Tropical Fruit Company. Here are some scenes from the morning’s festivities.

Mayor McDonald offers opening remarks.
Bill Bone, chairman of the Centennial Commission, emcee’s the event. Seated on the dais, L to R, Gail Coniglio, David Rosow, Jack McDonald, and Jim Ponce.
Barry Rayvid, official stenographer, was transcribing every word. Where else in the world would a court stenographer record a statue unveiling? Yes, only in Palm Beach.
The Centennial ceremony was held Saturday in Bradley Park, once the site of Bradley’s Beach Club, a private dining club with a gambling casino, and E. R. Bradley’s private residence. In accord with Mr. Bradley’s will, the house and casino-club were demolished the year after he died. The land was donated to the town as a park; Bradley never wanted anything built that might ever reflect on his reputation.

Elizabeth Matthews, great-great grand of Henry M. Flagler, with her parents, Betsy Matthews, past president of the Garden Club of Palm Beach, who inspired the town to make the sensational vertical wall of plants as part of the recent Worth Avenue improvements, and George G. Matthews, Henry Flagler’s great-grandson, recently inducted into the International Fishing Hall of Fame.
L. to r.: Jean and Will Matthews. Mr. Matthews is Henry Flagler’s great-grandson.; William Diamond, council member of the Town of Palm Beach.
G. F. Robert Hanke, a great-grandson of Henry Flagler, with Bill Bone, chairman of the Palm Beach Centennial Commission. Mr. Hanke donated the statue of his great-grandfather and presented it to the Town of Palm Beach.
L. to r.: David Rosow, president of the Palm Beach Town Council.; Gail Coniglio, president pro tem of the Palm Beach Town Council.
Bob Green and Dick Kleid, council member of the Town of Palm Beach.
Barbara and Doyle Rogers.
Brad Deflin and his dog Libby.
David V. Reese and Courtenay D. Reese. David and Courtenay are 4th and 5th-generation PBers.
Kit Pannill and Pat Cook.
Jimmy Ryan, chairman of the Citizens’ Association of Palm Beach, and Kevin Johnson, conference manager at The Breakers.
L. to r.: Jaimee Peirce, a Centennial coordinator.; Rick Rose.; Gerald Goldsmith.
L. to r.: Captain Jeffery Trylch, Palm Beach Police Department.; Peter Elwell, town manager of Palm Beach.
Darrell Hofheinz and Susan Polan.
Stephen Leek, the event’s official videographer.
L. to r.: Lucien Capehart, Palm Beach’s leading photographer.; Tracy Kamerer, chief curator at the Flagler Museum.
James Augustine Ponce, historian and Living Landmark, with Evelyn Harrison.
The children, winners of an essay contest, prepare to pull the cover off the Flagler statue.

Voila, Flagler uncovered.
H. Irwin Levy. A noted developer, Mr. Levy built Century Village, the state’s first large-scale retirement community.
The same Henry Flagler statue as it looks installed at the entrance to Flagler College, St. Augustine.
David Rosow, Dick Kleid, Jack McDonald, G. F. Robert Hanke, Bill Bone, Gail Coniglio, and William Diamond.
Mr. Hanke, fifth from left, photographed with council members and Centennial ambassadors.
G. F. Robert Hanke, Lynn Hanke, Will Matthews, Gail Coniglio, and William Diamond.
A special VIP attended the festivities.
Next to Bradley Park, a spectacular fountain centerpiece from Villa Artemis donated by Amy Phipps Guest remains sadly inactive and in disrepair.

Palm Beach’s Living Wall & Park
150 Worth Avenue
Gsky Plant Systems, Sanchez & Maddux, & The Garden Club of Palm Beach

It seems like yesterday that there was a gas station at the southeast corner of Worth Avenue and South County Road. And now, a new unique attraction.

Worth Avenue’s spectacular 840-square-foot living wall display, designed and installed at a cost of $250,000, makes for the county’s first and the area’s largest vertical wall. With the wall’s concept and inspiration credited to Betsy Matthews, past president of the Garden Club of Palm Beach, the island’s garden club has committed $50,000 toward its maintenance. Matthews believed Palm Beach should showcase the best in garden design and where and when better than on Worth Avenue while it was undergoing its more than $15 million improvement program.

“Betsy first saw a living or green wall in Charlotte, North Carolina, that was created by the French botanist Patrick Blanc,” club president Cindy Hoyt told the Palm Beach Daily News. “She envisioned a green wall with a rich, lush tapestry of living plants for Palm Beach, and spoke with a number of people in town about her vision and introduced them to the idea.”

The wall is a showcase for different shades of green, composed from nearly 11,000 plants, native plants various grasses. The eleven various plant types were grown at Michaels Nursery in 840 containers attached to a 24-foot by 36-foot steel grid located on the west wall of 150 Worth Avenue. The structure features a computer-directed drip-irrigation system.
Palm Beach landscape architect Jorge Sanchez, Sanchez and Maddox, worked with Gsky, a Canadian firm known for its vertical walls, and its design manager, Deborah Kotalic, along with Garden Club members Matthews, Hoyt, Mary Pressly, Pat Cook and Beth Dowdle in devising the final plan. In addition, Sanchez & Maddux designed a small triangulated park in front of the wall with sod and shade trees.
The Living Wall adds a dimensional aesthetic to a street of window dressings and rows of coconut palms.

Garden Club of Palm Beach’s annual holiday boutique
The Society of the Four Arts
Friday, December 10, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m

After having to delay a day because of a pesky drizzle, The Garden Club of Palm Beach’s holiday boutique and plant sale were rescheduled for The Four Arts terrace overlooking the Philip Hulitar Sculpture Garden. The sale featured a select assortment of topiaries, wreaths, holiday accessories, orchids, botanical-pattern porcelain tableware from Mary Mahoney’s, jewelry designs by Sasha Lickle, and Christmas cookies benefited the Garden Club’s beautification projects and educational programs.

Bobbie Lindsay-Buck was doing a brisk business selling the botanical settings generously donated by Mary Mahoney.
Cindy Hoyt, president of the Garden Club of Palm Beach.
L. to r.: Connie Geisler.; A sleigh full of snow-white orchids.
These Swarovski crystal feline figurines are perfect accessories for Palm Beach flip-flops.
Page Pressly and Dragana Connaughton.
More of Sasha Lickle’s jewelry designs can be found at
Agnieszka Sederwska.
Beth Dowdle found that special something.

Oasis Circle dedication at Southern Boulevard & South Ocean Boulevard
Monday, December 13, 10 a.m.

This South End traffic circle has been redesigned into an artful roundabout, pictured above before this morning’s dedication.

As a gift to celebrate the Centennial of Palm Beach, the Garden Club of Palm Beach has donated the landscaping of the long-neglected Oasis Circle, located at the intersection of Southern and Ocean Boulevards. The roundabout was redesigned and installed with the assistance of the Town’s public works department and noted landscape architect Alan Stopek of Efflorescence, Inc. In consultation with Garden Club members, Stopek planted aloes, agaves, bromeliads, ponytail palms, and other succulents. Once these drought-tolerant, wind-resistant and salt-tolerant plants are established, they will require little maintenance. For the three islands surrounding this circle, the town has planted zoysia empire grass and green island ficus.

Chairs were put in place for the dedication ceremony and the PBPD directed traffic around the event.
By 10 a.m., the seats were filled and dedication program began amidst an arctic blast.
The Honorable Jack McDonald, mayor of Palm Beach, and Cindy Hoyt, president of the Garden Club of Palm Beach.
Ann Blades, Betsy Matthews, and Mayor Jack McDonald cut the official ribbon dedicating the circle to the Town of Palm Beach.

Alan Stopek, landscape architect with Efflorescence Inc., selected the plants and supervised the project in consultation with the Garden Club. The Town’s public works department cleared the site, installed the irrigation system, and installed the various plantings.

Two years ago Mr. Stopek designed the sensational kaleidoscope flower beds now abloom in the medians of Royal Poinciana Way.

L. to r.: Gail Coniglio, president pro tem of the Town Council of Palm Beach.; Ervin Duggan, president of The Society of the Four Arts.
L. to r.: Nancy Mendel.; Nancy Farry with Brook, a service dog with New Horizons Service Dogs.
A view of Oasis Circle looking north towards the Mar-A-Lago Club, before this morning’s ceremony.

Palm Beach Style

With a wintry offshore breeze, Palm Beachers were wrapped and bundled for the occasion.

L. to r.: Nancy Murray, president of the Bath & Tennis Club, gave an insightful history of the roundabout that segues north and south onto Ocean Boulevard and westward to the Marjorie M. Post Causeway leading over to the mainland. Following the ceremony, she invited everyone to a reception at the Bath & Tennis Club across the street.; Guests braved the chill winds and the traffic crossing Ocean Boulevard to a warm reception at the B & T.
A view looking northeast towards the B & T, after Photoshopping the tangle of overhead electric lines.

Holidays on Palm Beach

Designed by Addison Mizner’s chief architect Julius Jacobs, this South Ocean Boulevard oceanfront house has been artfully restored by Realtor Lawrence Moens. Every year, Mr. Moens plants his Christmas tree in his front yard, perfectly scaled.
The house’s eclectic façade is an imaginative blend of Mediterranean and Gothic elements. The architect is actually best known for the house next door, Nuestro Paradiso, designed by Julius Jacobs for Woolworth exec E. Z. Nutting, now owned by Ohio’s Cafaro family.
The Moens family Christmas tree provides some afternoon shade for the Spanish fountain.
When Addison Mizner was off on one of his frequent European buying excursions, architect Julius Jacobs supervised the office’s ongoing projects on Palm Beach.
The toy soldier provides a dash of holiday whimsy to the otherwise formal architectural entrance.
The upper level loggia affords ocean views.

The Chesterfield Hotel
363 Cocoanut Row

The Chesterfield’s lobby offers cushy comforts and a bright holiday tree.
The Leopard Lounge is prepped for the holidays.

The Shiny Sheet moves to 400 Royal Palm Way

On Saturday morning, William Kelly, staff reporter, was the last person left at the PB Daily News’ former location at 265 Royal Poinciana Way. William was in between the latest Madoff story and heading over to cover the Centennial’s Bradley Park event.
It is official. As of Monday, December 13, the Shiny Sheet can be found at a new location, 400 Royal Palm Way, across from The Society of Four Arts’ Philip Hulitar Sculpture Garden.

Donald Walter Curl, 1935 – 2010.

In Memoriam

My friend of 25 years, the one and only Donald Walter Curl died this week. Don was an author, historian, professor of history and architectural history, preservation advocate, and fellow Libran. Don and I shared birthdays, October 7; for many years we celebrated together usually with lunch or dinner, always places we had never been or should have already been.

I first met Don in the mid-1980s when, if I recall, he and the late Jane Volk were on the Landmarks Preservation Commission with Jim Sullivan, making for a colorful chapter in Palm Beach’s preservation history.

Don will always be known as the leading expert on Addison Mizner, although for many years he lived in one of the most modernist houses in Old Floresta, a Mizner-designed neighborhood in Boca Raton.

His book, I think he wrote eight, Mizner’s Florida, Florida Resort Architecture, published by MIT Press in 1984, set the standard. In addition to being chair for the history department at FAU, he served on landmarks commissions in Palm Beach and Boca Raton, as well as regional, state and national historic boards, never tiring of the politics and the bureaucracies. I never knew of Don to look the other way, a common practice; he was never surprised when everyone else did, letting something irreplaceable go unnoticed because of who or what or money.

“He was honest about everything he did. We shall miss him,” remarked Mrs. Howard Major Jr., whose husband’s father, Howard Major, was one of Palm Beach and Naples’ sterling architects.

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