The polish, paradox, and paradise of Palm Beach

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Villa Bel Tramonto, Palm Beach. Associated for more than fifty years with the Lucius P. Ordway family, this landmark waterfront estate is on the market for $17.9 million. The current owners Lowry and Diana Bell are represented by Cristina Condon at Sotheby's International Realty.

Happy New Year!

With results of the presidential Iowa caucus soon to be known and the outcome of the Town of Palm Beach’s caucus on Tuesday night a near certainty, given the three incumbent councilmen are unopposed, it should be reassuring to know Palm Beach and Dubuque have something in common. Nonetheless, anytime Palm Beach County residents are spared an election where actual votes are counted, it should be celebrated. With most everyone bundled up at the beach, on a boat, golf course, tennis court, or at a bridge table, during the 12 days before Christmas I had the immeasurable satisfaction of serving on jury duty at the Palm Beach County Courthouse. What better holiday than the memory of watching a three-hour videotaped deposition of a neurosurgeon shuffle papers while opening cans of Diet Coke. Otherwise, I have been in the ocean as much as possible.

Here are scenes from the polish, paradox, and paradise of Palm Beach, some sparkling settings, a few notes about the latest transactions, and a glimpse of the remote historic Lakeside Inn in Mt. Dora, one of the state’s last remaining authentic 19th-century and early 20th-century towns.

Simply splendid trimmings on Wells Road at North Lake Way.

Feliz Navidad y Feliz Año Nuevo!

Casa Juanita. Joe and Nancy Dryer’s casa grande courtyard was the setting for a holiday fiesta. In just a few minutes, the courtyard was packed with Palm Beach’s party-minded.
L to R.: Havana-born Nancy Herrera Dryer was the evening’s hostess simpática.; The entrance hall leads into a central courtyard. Bromeliads and poinsettias added a dash of holiday color.
L to R.: The powder room is off the entrance hall.; The gentlemen’s lounge is opposite the powder room.
Casa Juanita’s salón was transformed into a festive holiday setting.
Table tops were arranged with the reverence of altars.
The Christmas tree and stockings brightened the room’s original Marion Sims Wyeth-designed estilo elegante.
The dining room.
Casa Juanita’s ambiente alcázar echoed the evening’s Latin flavor.
And the party was soon underway.

At the galleries

For a $10,000 donation to the Dreyfoss School of the Arts, gallerist Ellen Liman is offering the above mixed-media work Grandparents Impression by Chelsea Odum, a former Dreyfoss student. Currently, Liman’s Paramount Building gallery is also a showcase for several Palm Beach artists.
At Ashley John Gallery, associates John Morrison and Patrick O’Brien. The gallery is owned by James Alterman, author of “New Hope for American Art,” a comprehensive volume documenting New Hope’s art colony.
Polo Match. Joseph Newman (1890-1979), artist. $45,000. Ashley John Gallery, 410 South County Road. Palm Beach. The gallery features an array of significant 20th-century American artists and estate jewelry.

A Walk on Worth Avenue

The annual Worth Avenue holiday tree.
On the Via Mizner, Renato’s maitre’d Brad Stapleton at the ready for the New Year’s Eve crowd.
L to R.: The Spanish-style lantern casts evocative shadows on Mary Mahoney’s eclectic shop.; At Fiandaca, a dazzle of fashion set on a cloud. Formerly on the Via Mizner, the couturier has moved to Worth Avenue.
Fish Bowl, a touch of whimsy in the Fiandaca boutique by handbag artisan Mary Frances.

Café L’Europe
331 South County Road

Norbert and Lydia Goldner moved their popular Café L’Europe restaurant from 150 Worth Avenue to its present County Road location on New Year’s Eve in 1995. On this New Year’s Eve, I dropped by a few minutes before the doors opened for the evening’s more than 350 guests and took some snaps of the Palm Beach landmark,.

Café Europe was at 150 Worth Avenue for 15 years before moving to the corner of South County Road and Brazilian Avenue. And with Lydia Goldner being from Rio, she must feel right at home.
The staff was busy with finishing touches before the first dinner seating.
A view across one of the dining rooms towards the bar area.

    The renowned Norbert Goldner toasts yet-another New Year’s Eve in Palm Beach.
Café L’Europe is a superbly-polished setting.
At night, Café L’Europe takes on an otherworldly ambience.
Café L’Europe overlooks the town’s Addison Mizner-designed Memorial Plaza.
Across the street from Café L’Europe, Salon Margrit’s chairs were filled with last-minute New Year’s Eve clients.

1 January 2012
New Year’s Day

The Corey family hosted an at-home New Year’s Day supper celebrating 2012.

Missie Corey, Marilyn Mayer, and Elise Corey.
With a mild-70s temperature, the outdoor patio was a perfect spot.
L to R.: Dolly Rodriguez.; Jackie Astor Drexel.
Bob Smith, Niente Smith, and Elise Corey.
Young John Alterman joins Myra Mann-Morrison and John Morrison for a snapshot.
Robin de Baptiste, Patrick O’Brien, and Virginia Courtenay.
Marilyn Mayer. I had never met Mrs. Mayer who could not have been more gracious since I probably took up much too much of her time asking about members of the Chicago set found amid the Ellen Glendinning Frazer Ordway photograph collection, many of whom she knew.

Remember Real Estate?

Palm Beach real estate agents are ever the optimists. However, there are concerns about the lack of available high high-end listings. But don’t many of these sales at believe-it-or-not prices involve properties not widely-known to be on the market? Isn’t buying something not perceived available to just any/every billionaire part of Palm Beach’s cachet? Nonetheless, lakeside and oceanfront construction continues on several titanic-sized houses, that would be somewhere between 15,000 and 20,000-square-feet or imagine about half the size of the new Publix, with more modest newbuilds on the drawing boards.

Vahan Gureghian.

According to the minutes of the most recent ARCOM meetings, look for the latest caravan of bulldozers, concrete trucks, and concert of drills and hammers at: 217 Emerald Lane, 256 Mockingbird Trail, 202 Plantation Road, 221 Ocean Terrace, 111 El Brillo Way, 108 El Mirasol, 1071 North Ocean Blvd (site of Vahan and Danielle Gureghian’s planned 20,000-sq.-ft. ” French Monte-Carlo inspired estate”), and 40 Blossom Way, where in April 2011 the new owner paid $29.5 million.

On the lighter side, SunTrust Bank has deeded 270 Colonial Lane for $1.27 million to Dean and Christine Goodman, financed by SunTrust with a $1 million mortgage. The previous owner Alla Kournikova, mother of tennis star Anna Kournikova, paid $1.36 million in 2004; then, secured a $1.8 million mortgage. As you may recall, in 2010 Mrs. Kournikova ran afoul with authorities after her son fell out the second-story window of her Seabreeze Avenue house. In July 2011, SunTrust took title to the Colonial Lane house for a recorded price of $950,000. You see, living in Palm Beach can really add up.

Across the water in far-off West Palm Beach, trustees for the late Helen F. Boehm’s estate sold her Trump Plaza of the Palm Beaches double unit for $1.05 million to Alan and Susan Cocoziello of Elmwood Park, New Jersey. Known as the “Princess of Porcelain” whose objets d’art would have been must-haves for residents of Pompeii or Ancient Egypt, Mrs. Boehm had acquired her 4,000-square-foot unit in 1998. Just south on Flagler Drive, the 30-story Arkona, aka 1515 Tower, condominium site owned by the Commonwealth Bank — you remember the storm-damaged building that was imploded and leveled in 2010 — has sold for $5.5 million to Terrace Mountain Investors III, an Austin-based LLC located in West Lake Hills, Texas. More upbeat news from down in Delray Beach where Consistent Income LLC, a Cayman Island company, has sold the one-acre oceanfront estate at 1103 South Ocean Boulevard it bought for $19 million in 2007 for $14.25 million to Lynelle Kirby and Lawrence Gsell, as co-trustees. Mrs. Kirby and her husband Mr. Gsell also own a penthouse apartment at 1045 Park Avenue, NYC, according to court documents.

Back in Palm Beach, here are a few recent real estate mentions of note.

Former Ordway estate listed at $17.9 million by Sotheby’s International Realty

Villa Bel Tramonto, motor court entrance. Designed by Treanor & Fatio firm in 1929, Villa Bel Tramonto may translate as House of the Beautiful Sunset, though my Italian may be slightly off. Pictured above, a December 2011 view looking northwest towards the Intracoastal Waterway.
Villa Bel Tramonto. Façade, 1951. The photo is one of a series of photos taken shortly after Lou Ordway and Ellen Glendinning Frazer were married in March 1951.
L to R.: Villa Bel Tramonto, Front entrance, December 2011. According to the town’s building records, the balcony and more elaborate French doors were added in 1977 by Betty Ordway Dunn, who inherited the house after Ellen Ordway died in 1974.; Villa Bel Tramonto, entrance. Ellen Ordway stands at the entrance of the Banyan Road house.
Villa Bel Tramonto is a local designated landmark.

Jimmy & Jane Buffett opt for North End seclusion

Cayce C. Hoffmaster has sold an approx. 4,000+ sq.-ft. North End house, seen above, for $4.95 million to Jimmy and Jane Buffett, according to the court records. In May 2010, the Buffetts took $18.5 million for their 540 South Ocean Boulevard property, selling it to their neighbor Jon Stryker, who already owned the surrounding properties.

Parc Regent penthouse’s $5.48 million tops condo sales

Michael Schmidt and Paul Schmidt Jr., as representatives of the Estate of Patricia Schmidt, sold the more than 5,000-sq.-ft. lakeside south penthouse at Parc Regent to Allan and Linda Landis. Mr. Landis is one of the principal owners of the Minnesota Vikings football team. Once reportedly listed for $8.9 million, Mrs. Schmidt bought the unit in 1997 for $4.35 million from Sir Geoffrey and Lady Sylvia Leigh who at the time moved to an oceanfront house on Casa Bendita.

Queens Lane lands $1.6 million

Longtime resident Carolyn Stambaugh sold her 272 Queens Lane residence for $1.6 million to Christopher and Jennifer Lazzara. Built in 1936, the approx. 4,000-sq.-ft. two-story house is set on a one-third acre parcel.

Bermuda Lane house settles for less

Denise P. McCann has sold 201 Bermuda Lane to an LLC named for the address for $300,000 less than what she paid for the property in 2008, according to the court deed filed December 22. Three years ago, McCann paid $1.7 million to the seller Richard Reventlow; she sold the four-bedroom 2,900-sq-ft. 1950s-style North End house for $1.4 million.

Stage Door, the Palm Beach version

Royal Poinciana Playhouse, west elevation. After several years of paperwork for-and-against what may be the town’s longest-running tug-of-war, on January 16 the Landmarks Preservation Commission will discuss concerns whether the playhouse’s owners are engaging in “intentional demolition by neglect.”

At last, Publix opens!

“You would have thought Queen Elizabeth was going to roll in any minute,” said an observer, describing the elation among the guests during an ooh-and-aah exclusive by-invitation-only preview of the island’s 40,000-square-foot Publix supermarket. A few days later, several hundred shoppers were among the early birds who received a free Publix tote bag.
Publix sign, parking lot. Shoppers beware.

Lakeside Inn
100 North Alexander Street, Mt. Dora

As thousands make their way to Main Street at Walt Disney World, reveling in the attraction’s simulated Cinderella’s castle, faux Hollywood storefronts, assembly-line accommodations and virtual thrills, far too few find refuge in places like the historic Lakeside Inn where Old Florida traditions have endured without fireworks and fairytales for the past 128 years. Although my mother was born in Orlando, she had never visited Mt. Dora, a scenic small town about 45 minutes northwest of the I-4 theme parks. During this past holiday, now that my mother is 86, she thought it time she checked out the Lakeside Inn. And while we were both charmed by the town and the Inn, there were moments when stairs were too steep and more comfortable amenities would have made her more comfortable. Here is a look at a Central Florida original although the Atlantic Coast train from New York-to-Ft. Myers no longer stops at Mt. Dora.

The Lakeside Inn. The Inn’s original 1883 building is the central frame vernacular-style building facing the lake. The parallel Gables and Terrace buildings extend west towards the lake shore.
L to R.: The Beauclaire restaurant has delicious food
that is simply served, not styled or plated in the manner found on the Food Channel.; Lake Dora offers scenic natural attractions without the waterslides you find at Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon.
Lake Dora. The Inn does offer seaplane rides.
The Terrace building. We stayed in a two-room suite arrangement on the first floor with limited views. Note: There is no elevator and the waterside rooms are reachable by stairs.
Across from the Terrace building, the Gables offers a similar range of accommodations.
The Gables. The far west rooms overlook the lake and the pool.
The Sunset building has been well-preserved.
The Lakeside Inn’s original 1883 building. At check-in, we thought we might be the only guests. Several hours later, we learned there was a wedding planned with more than 100 guests.
Lakeside Inn, lobby.
The town’s Atlantic Coast Line train depot, once bringing daily visitors from New York, has been converted into the Chamber of Commerce bureau.
Piglet’s Pantry Dog Bakery is one of several appealing shops in Mt. Dora’s historic downtown.
The Arbors and Eyebrows complex of buildings offers an array of charms.
L to R.: Eyebrows and Arbors, corner building.; 2:18 p.m. in Mt. Dora, much the same in 2011 as it was in 1911.
The Painter’s Daughter.
City Hall, Mt. Dora. Refreshing to see a residential-style building to house the local officials, most often ensconced in some multi-million-dollar granite edifice.
The John. P. Donnelly House is part of Mt. Dora’s original Victorian skyline.


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