Philadelphia in Palm Beach: A Social Diary, 1927-1931
First published in 2011. Several months ago, an NYSD reader, Liz Forman, sent me a note saying a South Florida friend had some family scrapbooks that I might enjoy seeing. On her next visit to Florida, she arranged for me to meet Lou, Lucius Ordway Frazer, who brought along one of his grandmother’s scrapbooks.
“I think my grandmother must have died laughing,” said Lou, when I showed him a photograph of his grandmother,
Ellen Glendinning Frazer Ordway,with Mary Sanford.
Philadelphian Ellen Glendinning kept an extensive diary where she recorded and photographed the life around her family and friends, a chronological scrapbook of photographs, invitations, and published newspaper and magazine articles. She kept a meticulous chronicle of family summers in Ventnor or Watch Hill, Easter at White Sulphur Springs, and holidays in France and Switzerland. In Chestnut Hill, the Glendinnings were at home at The Squirrels; in Palm Beach, they were ensconced at Casa dei Leoni, one of Mizner’s most Venetian-styled villas located on the Everglades Club basin.
What to do on the nanny’s day off? Take the children to El Mirasol where the Stotesburys have invited the kids, Perky, Bettina and Robert Frazer with their cousin, Nina Cooke, along with their parents, to feed the animals at their private zoo.
In 1920 Ellen Glendinning married
Persifor Frazer III. They divorced in 1934. “Persi” then married Margaret Isham; later, Ellen married Lucius Pond Ordway Jr.
“I’ve never met anyone who loved life as much as she did,” recalled Frazer. “And she loved to take pictures.”
When Lou Frazer isn’t pursuing his historical interests, he is the director of sales for corporate development at Ocean Properties Ltd, with headquarters in Highland Beach.
Here is a glimpse of Palm Beach between 1927 until 1931, as seen through the eyes and lens of Ellen Ordway.
In 1924, the Glendinnings bought Casa dei Leoni from Philadelphian Leonard Thomas, once married to Tessie Oelrichs’s niece. Built in 1921, Thomas had purchased the first lot west of the Everglades Club, commissioning Mizner to design a “Venetian palazzo.” The Gothic-styled house with arched windows was arranged around a lakeside patio with steps leading into the lake. Built with a gondola slip, the Glendinnings would instead use it to park their motor boat, “Pipo.”
L to R.: At Casa dei Leoni, L. to r.: Mary Glendinning Cooke and her daughter Nina, and her sister, Ellen Frazer, with her children, Perky, Persifor IV, and Bettina. Ellen’s sister was married to Jay Cooke II, a Philadelphia financier. The Cookes were longtime Palm Beach residents.; Ellen Frazer and her children Bettina and Persifor IV, ”Perky;” while George mans the helm of their Palm Beach wheelchair.
Seen leaving Casa dei Leoni, Elizabeth Glendinning with her daughters, Mary Glendinning Cooke, in the wheelchair, Ellen Frazer, seen standing.
With a waterfront view of the Casa dei Leoni to her left, Ellen Frazer takes a swing on the Everglades Club golf course. To her right and beyond on the water, The Villas, an ensemble of multi-story buildings designed by Addison Mizner, demolished to accommodate a condominium.
Valentine’s Day at Casa dei Leoni.
“Pop” Glendinning with his grands, Bettina, Robert and Perky Frazer. A Philadelphia financier, Robert Glendinning died in 1936.
A member of Palm Beach’s “Smart Set,” Ellen Frazer on the golf course and strolling with the toddlers along the Lake Trail.
The kids love the beach.
Robert, Bettina, and “Perky” play on the Midtown beach south of The Breakers.
L to R: Ellen Frazer and her mother, Elizabeth Carpenter Glendinning, at the Everglades Club. In 1928 Elizabeth Glendinning was elected the first honorary president of the Garden Club of Palm Beach. Robert Glendinning served on the board at the Everglades Club. After Mrs. Glendinning died in 1942, Casa dei Leoni was sold; Ellen Frazer arriving at the Everglades Club. She was often featured in Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar.
L to R.: Ellen Frazer poised at the Everglades Club tennis courts.; Ellen Frazer, her father Robert Glendinning, and Philadelphia friend Sam Bell at the Everglades Club golf course.
Above: At the Everglades Club, Ector Munn, Carrie Louise Munn, Gladys Munn, and Gurnee Munn. January, 1929.
Pauline Munn with her father, Charles Munn. January 1929.
Bath & Tennis Club
The Bath & Tennis Club, as illustrated by Palm Beach Life magazine.
The 1927 season was the first at the Bath & Tennis Club’s new facility on South Ocean Boulevard designed by Joseph Urban. Above, a sweeping view of the original patio dining area. Under the umbrella sitting in the sand, Maurice Fatio, to his left, Marjorie Oelrichs, to her left sitting in a beach chair, John Rutherford, and friends find time for the beach.
Lunch at the Bath & Tennis Club cafeteria. Left, Ellen Frazer, walking to her right, her husband, Persifor Frazer III; to his right, Howard Whitney.
Edith Cummings and Eleanor Chase, who would marry Maurice Fatio, having lunch at the B & T.
On the beach at the B & T.
Lunch on the beach at the B & T cabanas, l. to r.: Jim Blair, Alastair Mackintosh, Ellen Frazer, Burks Carstairs, Mabel Cochran, who would soon marry the gentleman to her right, Prince Hohenlohe.
Above: “Pop,” Robert Glendinning, right, with his grandchildren, Persifor IV “Perky,” Bettina, and Robert, and their nanny, Miss Smith, far left, at the Bath & Tennis Club beach.
Joe Harriman and Alastair Mackintosh dressed appropriately for an afternoon at the B&T cabanas.
Palm Beach life
“Heh! Heh! Let’s go!” Palm Beach was the perfect spot to “master the ups and downs of the Black Bottom.”
L to R.: Winston Guest, Ellen Glendinning, Evelyn Shaffer, and Jay Carlisle at Jimmy Cromwell’s costume party at El Mirasol, February 1927.; Jimmy and Delphine Dodge Cromwell, 1927. They would divorce the following year; later, Cromwell would marry Doris Duke.
L to R.: Ellen Frazer and Joe Harriman, Cocoanuts party, 1927.; Mary Glendinning and Persifor “Persi” Frazer III.
The Coconuts, 1927. Palm Beach Life magazine.
Fifi Widener and Milton “Doc” Holden, left. Mr. and Mrs. John Fell, right.
L to R.: Palm Beach, at play. ;Winston Guest. Phipps Field, Gulf Stream.
How much more fun than playing at El Mirasol where the Stotesburys had invited their Philadelphia friends to bring the kids to feed the animals.
L to R.: Rodman “Roddy” Wanamaker II and Margaret Kahn. The Wanamaker-Devereux wedding in 1930 would be the social event of Philadelphia’s summer season.; Roddy Wanamaker II’s, second from left, beach party at La Guerida, Palm Beach. 1929.
George Kent, Price Harrison, Oliver Paryn, and Joe Harriman at the Wanamaker party.
The “ladies” at Roddy Wanamaker’s swim party.
Left, Gurnee Munn getting a “haircut and a shave.” Right, Roddy Wanamaker II.
At Oheka. L to R.: Jane Sanford, who lived next door to the Kahns at Villa Marina, Otto Kahn, photographed at the second Oheka, designed on North Ocean Boulevard by Bruce Kitchell, Nin (Mrs. John Barry) Ryan (sitting), Betty Bonsbetton (standing), and Nancy Yuille with architect Maurice Fatio, who would design Kahn’s third Palm Beach house on North County Road.
Bertrand Taylor Jr., Mrs. Baldwin Browne, Mrs. Dodge Sloane, and William Rhinelander Stewart. Palm Beach.
From 23 January until 11 February in 1930, Persi and Ellen Frazer and their Philadelphia friends, including Peter and “Gertie” Widener took a two-week cruise aboard the M.V. Vulcania through the West Indies, highlighted by a stop in Havana.
Dinner aboard the Vulcania.
L. to r.: Gertrude “Gertie” Peabody Widener, Radcliffe “Cliff” Cheston, Ellen Frazer, Frances Cheston, Persi Frazer, George Bull, and Peter A. B. Widener II. That summer, Frances Cheston’s daughter, Alexandra, would marry Rodman Wanamaker II. Havana, February 1930.
Ellen Frazer, Gertie Widener, and Peter A. B. Widener II. February 1930.
Ellen Frazer and friends. White Sulphur Springs. Easter 1930.
Rodman Wanamaker II’s wedding in June 1930 to Alexandra van Rennselaer Devereux was the social highlight of the season.
L to R.: The same summer, Ruth Pruyn, above on her wedding day, married Ogden Phipps. Five years later, they divorced. She then married Marshall Field III; Ogden Phipps married Lillian Bostwick McKim.; When society matrons were not being featured in Vogue or Harper’s Bazaar, they were paid for endorsements. Above, Mrs. Peter A.B. “Gertie” Widener II praises her permanent wave.
L to R.: Ellen Glendinning Frazer with her children, Robert, Bettina, and Persifor IV. Christmas 1930.; Ellen Glendinning Frazer Ordway died in February 1976. Above, she shares a moment with her friend Mary Sanford.