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John Rivers Collection

Thursday 26 November 2015 - Filed under Palm Beach

Almost 30 years ago, John M. Rivers Jr. — a member of a Charleston, S.C., family that goes back to 1670 — began collecting significant examples of his city’s decorative and fine arts.

“I noticed that the earliest known signed piece of Charleston’s furniture was sold to an outfit in North Carolina, and I said, ‘Wait a minute, that’s our history, not theirs, and it ought to be here in Charleston.’

“Some of the finest silver and furniture in the 18th and 19th century were made right here in Charleston — 100 cabinetmakers were active from early 1700-1820, and silver was made from 1700 to the 1920s. I thought it was important to keep them here or bring them back,” he said.

Rivers’ biggest find, however, was an embroidery that had been stored away in an attic of an apartment on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. It is being shown at the Society of Four Arts as part of “An Eye for Opulence: Charleston through the Lens of the Rivers Collection,” which opened Sunday. The exhibit includes more than 200 art and artifacts from Charleston’s Colonial through Antebellum periods.

“My focus was on furniture and silver,” Rivers said. “Why did I want embroidery? And yet after I bought it and it was taken out of the frame, we found it was one of the most valuable things we could have purchased. Objects like this tell stories about people.”

Brandy Culp, curator of Historic Charleston Foundation, describes the embroidery as “extremely rare.”

“ Most embroidery is allegorical or religious, but this is a painted- and silk-embroidered portrait of a young Charleston lady, Emma Louisa Lanneau, before her marriage to Benjamin Gildersleve in 1828,” said Culp, guest curator for the Four Arts exhibition.

“She’s wearing a pelisse, a particular type of overcoat. It’s a cosmopolitan setting, a lovely neoclassical interior and she’s sitting at a table with a map and globe, and she’s holding a cartographer’s compass and it’s pointed to Charleston.”

Upon removing the frame, they found that Lanneau had signed the linen stripping she had used to stretch the fabric. “It was an amazing discovery, a moment I’ll never forget,” Culp said.

Accompanying furniture and silver from the Rivers Collection, significant art and artifacts from the Gibbes Museum, Historic Charleston Foundation, Drayton Hall and Charleston Museum also are on exhibit.

“This is the largest showing of Charleston’s fine and decorative art, and for some of the objects, it’s the first time they’ve been out of the city,” Culp said. “For this exhibition, I chose objects that would give viewers a sense of Charleston’s past and tell its story, which is one of opulence and diversity.”

‘Object of excess’

A Federal Period secretary with linen press, attributed to cabinetmaker Jacob Sass from the Rivers Collection exemplifies the high skill level of artisans from Charleston’s workshops.

Made of mahogany and mahogany veneer with cedrela, red cedar, white pine and cypress, the upper case has small storage drawers, pigeonholes for letters and secret drawers. The pullout drawers beneath were for textiles and clothing.

Twenty years ago, Rivers found its sibling — a linen press also made by Sass.

“I bought it out of a Ford dealership in Kingston, North Carolina, and now it’s with its companion piece. … To have them together as they were at Sass’s shop 230 years ago, that’s neat.”

Another piece of note from the Rivers Collection is a Rococo-style mahogany kettle stand with piecrust top, the only known example of that form made in Charleston.

“The kettle stand is an object of excess. Most objects had multifunctional uses, but the kettle stand, the mate to the tea table, had only one use,” Culp said. “It was meant to hold an expensive water kettle. This was part of Charleston’s tea ceremony, an important mode of entertaining here.”

Dark times to enlightenment

Charleston artisans produced many fine artifacts, but few survived. Some were lost due to fires, hurricanes and tornadoes. Some were lost through looting when the city was invaded by the British as well as federal occupation during the Civil War. And then poverty set in after the Civil War and heirlooms were sold.

“While Charleston was the wealthiest colony in the Colonial Period, the Antebellum Period was the end of opulence,” Culp said. “After the Civil War, the city was forever changed.”

After the 1876 Centennial, Charleston became a site for budding antique dealers and objects left private collections. Case in point, a neoclassical-style painting from the Historic Charleston Foundation, the portrait of Mary Rutledge Smith and her son, Edward, which was painted by George Romney in England.

Mary Rutledge Smith (1747-1837) sat 15 times for Romney between January and May of 1786. She was the wife of Colonel Roger Smith (1745-1805), and their son, Edward, was born in England in 1785. The portrait was painted during their stay in England while traveling abroad. When they returned to Charleston, they brought the painting back with them and it was passed down through their family.

This portrait was exhibited throughout the 19th century in Charleston and was well known in the city.

“Because of the family’s financial difficulties in 1888, to paraphrase from a letter a family member wrote to a New York antique dealer: ‘my family is sick; we have no money and we are starving,’ and she had to sell the portrait,” Culp said. “It was shipped to New York, then to England and was sold. For the next 87 years, it remained in the Swinton Collection at Masham, England. A hundred years later, it was purchased for Historic Charleston Foundation.”

A silver water pitcher, circa 1860, engraved with a gothic initial “B,” and marked by Hayden & Whilden pours out its tale, too.

The actual makers, Augustus Hayden and William Whilden, have a great story, Culp said.

“The two individuals operating Hayden & Whilden, both enlisted in the army in Civil War, and after the war, they established separate businesses across the street from each other and both businesses thrived from 18th century into the early 20th century.”

Today, Charleston thrives again, with a good economy and first-class cultural venues, Rivers said.

“So often people say that Charleston is like Paris, Prague, a city of light, but it’s a city of enlightenment,” he said.

Mary Rutledge   embroidery lo JMA_1071 JMA_1238 JMA_1966 JMA_1991 JMA_1996 JMA_1998 JMA_2007 JMA_2028 JMA_2043 JMA_2128

Written for the Palm Beach Daily News


 ::  Share or discuss  ::  2015-11-26  ::  Christine

Travel Indonesia

Thursday 26 November 2015 - Filed under Other Places

A popular tourist destination for years, Indonesia is about to become more accessible.

In August, Thai Ministry of Transport & Communication confirmed that foreign-flagged superyachts can undertake charter operations in Thailand, which will make the area inviting for more charter yachts, said Diana Brody, a charter broker with Camper & Nicholsons, Palm Beach.

The Indonesian archipelago, with 17,508 islands, offers a mix of exotic cultures and experiences, and what better way to cover all that ground, so to speak, then aboard the 213-foot wooden sailing ketch, Lamima?

An Indonesian two-masted phinisi, designed by Barcelona naval architect Marcelo Penna and constructed by traditional boat builders of the Ara village on Sulawesi island, Lamima is a dream-come-true for co-owner Dominique Gerardin.

Gerardin’s wife, Naomi, tracked the course of Lamima’s construction in her blog:

“Originally such prahus (a type of Indonesian sailing boat) were employed as cargo ships, carriers of sandalwood, spices and ceremonial textiles along the spice routes to the ancient kingdoms of China and India,” she wrote in March 2012. “Over the centuries, their rig evolved from rectangular to gaff sails, the Bugis people (Indonesian 16th-century sea traders and warriors) skillfully adapting what they saw on foreign vessels to what worked best for their local winds and waters. The result was the magnificent sailing phinisis unique to Indonesia.

“And now they’re building such a vessel for us.”

Two years later, the Konjo people of Ara conducted the launching ritual, “bersanji,” for Lamima’s strength and safety at sea, which was followed by the “panossi” (chiseling the navel) ritual, when master builder, Haji Saka, made a small hole in the keel and inserted a golden ring, an omen of good luck. Later that evening, using pulleys and sandbags, a crew of 50 began to drag Lamima into deep water, a process that took 45 days. Then, Lamima was towed to Italthai Marine in Samut Prakan, Bangkok for her final fit-out. On New Years 2015, Lamima completed its first sojourn, a 10-day cruise around Raja Ampat, West Papua, Indonesia.

Lamima can accommodate 14 guests in seven large ensuite staterooms; the master stateroom is aft on the main deck and six guest staterooms are below. Midship on the main deck is the salon with a bar, lounge and dining alcove. Forward of the salon is a large open deck for alfresco dining and lounging, and forward of the pilothouse, the deck is furnished with Indonesian sun mattresses. Cruising speed is 10 knots.

“It’s the largest wooden sailboat and hand built. It’s amazing,” Brody said. “The Lamima will give guests the feeling of being immersed in the Indonesian lifestyle and the water is pristine, like the water in the Caribbean 75 years ago. You’ll have beaches and rain forests to yourself. It’s quite unexplored and the people are open and gracious.”

On the beautiful and elegant sailing yacht, a naturalist will be on hand as well as Indonesian chefs, who will prepare a fusion of Asian and European cuisine. A yoga instructor and two Balinese masseuses also are on board.

When guests are tired of being pampered by the crew of 20, Lamima is equipped with adult toys that include Yamaha Jet Skis, diving and snorkeling gear, wakeboard, jet-propelled tender, water skis, paddleboards, sea kayaks and Jukungs (Indonesian canoes). Lamima also is certified as a PADI dive center with two dive instructors.

A suggested itinerary from November through March: a few days in Phuket, Thailand, and then moving toward Mergui Archipelago to Myanmar. Mergui, with crystal-clear water, white-sand beaches, and blanketed with untouched rainforests, is a top destination for viewing wildlife with barking deer, macaque monkeys, wild boar, hornbills and elephants. Visitors will see Moken Sea Gypsies living in their small floating communities on the Andaman Sea. They’ll also see stilted fishing villages, glimpse whale sharks and manta rays, and visit a pearl farm known for its golden pearls.

For charters from April to September, tourists will sail to Indonesia’s eastern islands, Nusa Tenggara, to visit Alor, Flores, Sumba and Komodo. In the seas between Komodo and Flores, dolphins are a common sight and the area is also on a whale migration route. The reefs offer good snorkeling and some of the best diving in Indonesia, especially for guests who want to swim with manta rays. On land are buffalo, deer, wild pigs, birdlife and endangered monitor lizards. The Komodo Island monitors, known also as Komodo dragons or “ora” are the largest living lizards on earth and found only on Komodo, Rinca and Western Flores islands.

This culturally rich eastern area of Indonesia offers many possibilities for exploration. The water around Alor has a sperm whale migration route and the local people on this island are known for their ikat-dyed woven textiles. Between Alor and Flores, charterers can visit traditional whaling villages and they’ll see lovely lakes set in mountains that are home to the Lio tribe in the north and Ngada in the south.

For September and October, charterers can explore the wild Asmat region in Flamingo Bay and cruise up the Atjs River. With year-round warm temperatures and pristine waters, the Raja Ampat archipelago is known for its marine biodiversity, with almost 550 species of coral and more than 1,300 species of fish. In Asmat, snorkeling and diving is great, as well as bird watching, and visits to the villages of Warsi and Numbrep will give charterers the opportunity to experience the culture of the region and ride in long boats. After an overnight crossover to the area of Triton Bay, visitors will enjoy the most secluded white-sand beaches of West Papua. The area, known for whale sharks, is fantastic for diving, as well as taking in the scenery with its distinctive cliff paintings.

People who charter in this area often make a cruise a portion of their vacation because it’s halfway around the world, and there’s so much to see, Brody said. “Some people wish to explore other cultures and visit areas such as Shanghai, Hong Kong or Macau, and we can make suggestions.”

Most charters aboard Lamima are a week long, and the price is $140,000. For information, call Brody at 655-2121.

1 lamima 11 1 lamima fore deck 1 lamima dining 1 lamima salon 1 lamima with toys 1 lamima stateroom 446A1478 lamima 11 lamima salon lamima dining lamima fore deck dining 2 lamima fore deck lamima stateroom lamima under sail lamima with toys lamima1 lamima2 lamima3 lamima4

Written for Palm Beach Daily News


 ::  Share or discuss  ::  2015-11-26  ::  Christine


Monday 23 November 2015 - Filed under Uncategorized


 ::  Share or discuss  ::  2015-11-23  ::  Christine

Aurora Colony Oregon

Tuesday 10 November 2015 - Filed under Other Places

In 1855, when Dr. William Keil, leader of a German Christian communal society, headed west from Missouri to find his Eden, his wagon train of 35 wagons and 150 followers had a hearse in the lead. Keil’s oldest son, Willie, died of malaria just as the group was setting out, and keeping his promise not to leave his son behind, Keil placed Willie in a lead-lined casket filled with high-quality whiskey.

Within the year, Keil found a new site for his colony in the Willamette Valley near Portland, Oregon. He named it, Aurora, after his youngest daughter. Aurora was the first utopian community to be established on the West Coast, and it’s Oregon’s first designated historic district.

What’s left of the Aurora Colony, which continued through 1883 and numbered around 600 members at its apex, is a small cluster of buildings in the Old Aurora Museum complex, encircled by four blocks of structures built by the colonists and their descendents.

“Keil felt that all Christians should share labor and property as did the first Christians, according to the Book of Acts,” said Patrick Harris, curator of the Old Aurora Colony Museum. “His followers generally put their earnings into the common treasury, which they drew upon as they needed, and they sold their excess goods at their store to people who came through.”

The Aurora Colony Historical Society offers a map of the historic neighborhood with 20 buildings, the “Walk With Emma” self-guided tour, and the museum complex also can be viewed.

Visitors come from everywhere, many drawn by author Jane Kirkpatrick’s “Change and Cherish” trilogy, an historical-fiction about Emma Wagner Giesy, a member of Keil’s Bethel Missouri colony. She was 20 years old and pregnant when she accompanied her husband, Christian, and eight other scouts, who, in 1853, preceded Keil’s group over the Oregon Trail.

Next to the museum complex’s exhibition building is the home where Emma and her children lived for a time.

“A couple from New Zealand made a special trip here just to see Emma’s house,” recounted tour guide Janus Childs. “I took them over, unlocked the door, and started talking about it. I was halfway across the kitchen when I turned around and noticed that the wife was still standing at the threshold. ‘Oh,’ she said, ‘I am about to walk on the same floor as Emma!’”

The majority of Aurora’s colonists traveled in four migrations from their community in Bethel, Missouri via wagon trains, a five-month, 2,000-plus-mile journey over the Oregon Trail. A small group came by steamship through the Isthmus of Panama and still another group travelled by ship around Cape Horn.

At Aurora, the number of structures the colonists built, as well as their productivity, amazes. They sold goods from their orchards, granary and saw mill; created handsome textiles, baskets and furniture; grew crops including hops; and were renowned for their cuisine and music venues. By the time the community disbanded, they had accumulated nearly 20,000 acres of land scattered over three counties.

It begins to make sense when one understands a little about Keil, a visionary autocrat, and his two factions of followers: some evangelists plus a group of skilled Utopians.

Keil, who was born in 1812 in central Germany, immigrated to New York City in 1837. “He joined the Methodist Church in Pittsburgh and was on his way to becoming a minister, but decided not to continue with that particular group,” Harris said. “However, he was persuasive and a number of church members liked him.

“Keil’s belief that ministers should not be paid lead to discussions on how to do that, and the communal-living model was brought up,” he explained.

Among these church members was the Giesy family, and here, Keil found his evangelists. Andrew and Barbara Giesy had 15 children and their four oldest sons became Keil’s itinerant preachers.

And it was only a matter of time before Keil encountered members of a splinter group of experienced and pragmatic Harmonists.

The Harmonist Society, founded in 1785 by George Rapp, was a religious communal society whose members were waiting for the Second Coming, and by the late 1930s, a number of other utopian communities had cropped up. “Because of the panic of 1837 with countrywide bank failures, a group of preachers and communal advocates said this was signalizing the Apocalypse and communal living was one of the solutions on how to handle society’s problems,” Harris said.

The Harmonists experienced a major schism in 1832 when about 250 broke away with Bernard Muller. They were living outside of Pittsburgh when Keil ran across them.

These former members of the Harmony Society were interested in communal living but didn’t go along with Rapp’s teachings on celibacy. They did, however, know what it took to be part of a communal group, and had already built four communities — three for Rapp, and another for Muller, Harris said.

“They were thrifty and industrious people, skilled, experienced carpenters and mechanics. They liked communal living and thought Keil wouldn’t be too difficult to deal with — Keil never was a prophetic character.

“Keil sent scouts from the Harmonists to look for a site, and they picked the Bethel, Missouri site because it had a mill and stream. They converted the mill to steam power and supplied the area. Keil was very innovative.”

Encouraged by Bethel’s success, Keil decided to go west. “He was a restless character; Missouri was a slave state and that was anathema to their Christian belief, and people were going through Bethel on their way west,” Harris said. “Maybe Keil visualized that he could really develop an Eden in all that open land.”

In 1850, the Donation Land Act passed, promising 643 acres in Oregon County to married couples and 320 to single people. Free land got Keil’s attention, and he sent out scouts again. This is the group that included Emma and Christian Giesy.

The scouts settled down in Wallapa Valley, but that didn’t suit Keil; he felt the area was too wet and heavily forested.

While searching for a site more to his liking, Keil went to Portland and ran across John Walker Grim at the Portland Harbor, who was getting ready to ship a load of apples to San Francisco. Keil asked, “Where did you get those apples?” Grim answered, “Down in the valley.”

“Keil was interested because Grim and other Willamette Valley settlers were part of the 1847 wagon trains and had brought fruits starts with them over the Oregon Trail, and their orchards were blooming by the mid 1850s,” Harris said.

“The Gold Rush was in 1849 and these farmers were selling apples to the California market, making fistfuls of money.”

Also, some of these early settlers had beat the 49ers to the gold fields and had already found gold, Harris said. “They didn’t want to work all their land, and sold some to Keil, who chose parcels that included orchards, a saw mill and grist mill. Keil ended up supplying the area with those goods.”

Over time, younger colonists grew restless, and Keil had not groomed a successor. A few years after his death in 1877, the colonists amicably divided up the assets through the Federal Courts and the community disbanded. Now Aurora is a typical town with a population of about 1,000, including a handful of descendants.

Charles Snyder House1

The Charles Synder House: Charles Snyder was ten years old, when he came with his family to Aurora in Keil’s wagon train. In 1867, eighteen-year-old Christina Schuele drove a mule team from Bethel to Aurora, marrying Charles two years later. They had five children.

emma house1

The George Kraus house: Built about 1864, members of the Kraus family lived in it from 1879 to the mid 1960s. Prior to that, members of the Giesy family lived in this house during the 1860s and 1870s. George Kraus’ wife, Elizabeth, was the daughter of John Giesy, an administrator of colony business relationships with non-members.  Emma Wagner Giesy also lived in the house for some time.

Wm Keil store

Above: Wm. Keil and Company Store was the business name of Aurora’s general country store that catered to neighboring pioneers. Across the street is the site of the Aurora Colony Store where colony members came to receive their goods. It was torn down in 1931.

Walter Fry house

The Walter Fry House: Walter Fry, son of William and Annie, married Aurora schoolteacher, Lottie Foster in 1922. The couple lived in this house with Lottie’s two children.

Leonard and Triphena Will house

The Leonard Will House: Leonard was the colony’s butcher. His wife, Triphena, made some of the colony’s finest quilts. Their original house was converted to he offices of the Aurora Observer newspaper in 1908, and this more modern house was then built for them.

architectural salvage

Ziegler’s Warehouse: George Ziegler came to Aurora in 1867. The warehouse was originally constructed in 1890 by Ziegler and was built on the original site of the Colony’s horse stables, the Blue Barn. This building currently houses the Aurora Mills Architectural Salvage business.

Emmas living room

The George Kraus House is furnished entirely with artifacts from the Aurora Colony, the vast majority having been donated by the Kraus family.

Aurora town view 1875

An overview of Aurora in 1875: Original pre-1883 buildings still standing include the general store, the ox barn, the George and Elizabeth Kraus house, railroad depot, the Miley log house, the William Fry house and the Octagon building. The communal home, the Unter; Keil’s house, “Das Grosse Haus;” the mills; hotel; pharmacy; and church are gone. Credit for this one photo:  Aurora Colony Historical Society

Old Colony Museum Ox Barn

The Aurora Colony ox barn was constructed about 1860 to provide an enclosed space for the colony’s oxen that had pulled the wagons across the Oregon Trail. Once in Aurora, the oxen hauled logs as the land was cleared for the village, and helped plow acres of land for the colonists’ crops.

Octagon building

Above: The Octagon Building is all that’s left of the original Pioneer Hotel complex.

william fry house

The William Fry House: William Fry was the colonist’s blacksmith. He built this house in 1874 when he married Annie Miller.

museum complex steinbach house

Above: Steinbach Cabin: George and his wife Catherine Miley Steinbach lived in this cabin with their five young children from 1876 to 1883 when, after the colony disbanded, they built a new frame home that also still stands.

Jacob Miller

Jacob Miller’s house was built in 1890. Jacob served as the colony’s leader in Bethel and helped settle the community’s business before returning to Aurora in 1882.

museum complex

Above: In the yard and garden on the museum complex, directly facing is the washhouse. The back of Emma’s house is to the left.

Aurora depot

Southern Pacific Depot: Keil was a friend of Ben Holladay, the financier of the Oregon and California Railroad. The depot was moved in 1990 from its original location near the old mill.







 ::  Share or discuss  ::  2015-11-10  ::  Christine

Millennials uninsured map

Tuesday 22 September 2015 - Filed under Health


 ::  Share or discuss  ::  2015-09-22  ::  Christine

Discover Local Artist: Diane Arrieta

Thursday 3 September 2015 - Filed under Discover Local Artists

Palm Beach State College’s solo exhibition of Diane Arrieta’s work, “Misunderstood,” Sept. 15 through Oct. 16, deals with the plight of animals, ecosystems and their struggle with humans.


“Living off of consumer based, human-centric treatment of the planet for decades, we are now faced with real dilemmas affecting our basic health and well-being,” Arrieta says. “Unregulated abuse, habitat fragmentation, and urban sprawl are among the many problems that are fueling extreme weather patterns, climate change, unprecedented species extinction rates, and an increasing rise of infectious disease prevalence.”

Humans tend to think of nature as distant and not part of their everyday lives, she observes. Fast-paced lives rely on disposable items, fast-food restaurants and being confined in closed workspaces, which increase the gap between humans and nature.

"Til the cows come home," mixed media, $3,200.
“Til the cows come home,” mixed media, $3,200.

“The most common misconception that we as humans have about nature is that it is not under control of humans. Once we intervene, it becomes part of our world.”

“Misunderstood” highlights some of the endangered species, the environmental and social issues surrounding their well-being; her work is based on the misconceptions and misunderstanding of these animals.

“We need to step up and be heroes for the environment. We can either be hero or villain when it comes to the planet,” she says.

Arrieta utilizes various printmaking techniques with cut vinyl, illustration, sculpture and animation. Her work has a distinct urban feel, with a style rooted in the comic book genre, but also has strong influences from artists like Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns and Daisy Youngblood.

Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday; and 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday. The Art Gallery at Eissey Campus is located in the frst foor of the BB building, 3160 PGA Blvd. For more information, call the gallery at 561-207-5015.



2 comments  ::  Share or discuss  ::  2015-09-03  ::  Christine

History for what its worth

Sunday 28 June 2015 - Filed under Palm Beach

Hard to believe that the site of Palm Beach’s posh Everglades Club was once a tourist attraction showcasing a pit full of alligators and crocodiles, but so it was.

Visitors paid a quarter to ride a chauffeured three-wheeled whicker chair along the meandering Jungle Trail to watch Warren Frazee, known as Joe Frazier, wrestle large reptiles, said Palm Beach historian James Ponce.
“That area was very low and a virtual jungle, and someone had cut a path through it from County Road to Alligator Joe’s. When Palm Beach’s Royal Park addition was platted in 1913, Jungle Trail became Worth Avenue, named for General William Jenkins Worth.”

In 1918, Singer Sewing Machine heir, Paris Singer, bought the alligator farm, hiring his friend, architect Addison Mizner, to build a convalescent hospital for veterans on the site. But World War I ended before the facility opened, and the Touchstone Convalescent Club was repurposed as the Everglade’s Club, captivating the town’s affluent social set who quickly sought membership.

“Mizner’s unique version of Mediterranean architecture caused controversy,” Worth Avenue tour guide Rick Rose said. “People were used to British Colonial and Mizner’s designs included lots of styles, blending different heights and different angles, but people loved the hodgepodge.”

The club was an immediate success, and Singer asked Mizner to supervise the construction of 12 “Maisonettes” to the east of the club, with storefronts on the first floor and apartments on the second floor. Soon after, Via Mizner and Via Parigi were built just across the street. A shopping mecca incorporating romantic architecture, enchanting passageways and intimate courtyards, the vias were the perfect setting for charming boutiques.
Early shops included Jay Thorpe, a fancy ready-to-wear shop; Exotic Gardens landscape company; Catherine Mac Veady’s shop, which sold hats and gowns; William Beaumgarten interior decorators; John and Annie Clifton’s realty; Feigh’s barbershop; Maria van Hausen’s corsetry shop; Etta Menko’s antique shop; and Darrah & Darrah silversmiths.

Within the decade, Saks Fifth Avenue leased the building where Ralph Lauren is now, and The Cadillac Motor Company occupied the space that the haberdashery Maus & Hoffman now occupies.

As Worth Avenue became the heart of the island, houses along the street slowly converted to storefronts, and by 1940, several Fifth-Avenue stores with Palm Beach addresses – the Elizabeth Arden Salon, Bonwit-Teller, Hattie Carnegie and Cartier – relocated there from the town’s older shopping areas.

The restaurant Ta-boo arrived in 1941 and Aldo Gucci opened his first store on the avenue in the 1950s.

“At that time, both sides of the road were solidly built until the last block on the south side facing County Road,” Ponce recalled. “That was a parking lot, and cross from it was the Standard Oil gas station.
“The town folded up by mid-April,” he added. “They even took the streetlights down.”

In the 1960s Ta-boo was the first to stay open year ’round, followed by Saks Fifth Avenue and The Breakers hotel, “and that was due to the advent of air-conditioning,” Rose explained.

Over the years, old buildings were replaced with new at the east end of the avenue, making room for The Esplanade (now 150 Worth), a two-story open-air promenade, and the premiere upscale department store, Neiman Marcus.
Some aspects of the avenue never change. Elegant clientele with discriminating taste know exactly what they want, and Worth Avenue merchants understanding that, offer tony labels as well as especially designed custom lines.

Today, the glamorous resort attracts a host of national and international visitors as well as winter residents who continue to establish multi-million-dollar seasonal homes on the island, and, as such, Worth Avenue carries a singular cachet that’s recognized the world over.

Considered one of the most famous retail destinations, famed purveyors of fine merchandise vie for the opportunity to display their pricey and precious wares along the thoroughfare. Among them are fabulous fine jewelry firms: Graff, noted for diamonds of extraordinary rarity and beauty; Cartier, crown jeweler to 19 royal houses; and Van Cleef & Arpel, a signature brand that bedazzles and beguiles with the choicest diamonds and gemstones in exquisite settings. Internationally renowned design houses proffer luxury wares that are the epitome of elegance and refinement, including Louis Vuitton, with its unparalleled hand-wrought luggage and iconic handbags, and Chanel, widely recognized for its exquisite haute couture and fashion accessories.

Currently, with more than 200 shops with a 60/40 mix of boutiques and corporate stores, “Worth Avenue is certainly not a concrete mall destination,” said Worth Avenue Association president, Gregg Beletsky, who is also general manager of Ralph Lauren’s Palm Beach shop. “It’s about 100 years of service, so to speak. You don’t get hand deliveries and personal note cards at big-box malls.

“We know our customers by name,” he said. “We offer an experience of community that’s been cultivated over the years, and that’s what makes us special and unique.”

In 2010 and 2011, the avenue’s $15.8 million renovation made shopping even more engaging, he said. “The mature trees, new sidewalks and benches along the street invite customers to sit down and take a moment to enjoy the beautiful landscape and architecture around them.”


 ::  Share or discuss  ::  2015-06-28  ::  Christine

Princess Yachts America’s new 68 footer

Saturday 18 April 2015 - Filed under Luxury

While the Princess 68 is the latest model launched by Princess Yachts America, it was not at the recent Palm Beach International Boat Show. That’s because it sold right after the Miami show.

Still, the Palm Beach show earned praised from James Noble, Princess Yachts America’s vice president and marketing director. “Out of five models, we sold four out of the show, and we still have activity going on that we are following up.”

Overall, Princess offers 10 flybridge models from 43 to 98 feet, and the 68-footer was developed to fill the gap between the popular 72-foot and 64-foot motor yachts.

“Unlike the 64, the 68 has a foredeck seating area. It has a hardtop, and it has the ability to carry a tender on the flybridge or the hydraulic platform,” Noble said. “It is a very unique layout for its size range. The galley is aft on the main deck, and it has a private stairway to the owner’s stateroom, which is very unique for a boat in this size range.”

Princess also makes nine V-Class express models from 39 to 85 feet; a 72-foot S-Class Sportsbridge; and three M-Class yachts at 30, 35, and 40 meters.

Plymouth, England-based Princess International, founded in 1965 by David King as Marine Projects, celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. In 1995, King’s company partnered with Viking Yachts, headquartered in New Jersey, forming Viking Sport Cruises, to produce boats for the American market.

“Our boats are 80 percent done in-house, including all the woodwork, metal work and tooling for the fiberglass molds,” Noble said. “Changes were made to fit the American market.” Appliance brands recognized in America were used, refrigeration was increased, and air conditioning and generator system specifications were upgraded for Florida and the Caribbean’s climate. Engine rooms were reconfigured for more horsepower, and electrical systems were designed to handle the increased load.

“When we first started in this market, Princess was not a known name in the American market because there was no customer support. While Viking didn’t have facilities to bring on a whole new product line, it could offer support and service after the sale,” Noble explained. In the United States, Viking has two service centers: New Gretna, N.J., and Singer Island, as well as a network of more than 60 yacht-dealer service locations in North and Central America and the Caribbean.

Proving to be a winning combination, the two companies together made a mark. In 2008, Princess became part of the Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy family of luxury brands (other brands include Louis Vuitton, Fendi, Christian Dior and Feadship). Princess builds about 300 boats a year, introduces three or four new models each year, and will soon launch its 30-meter and 35-meter M-class yachts.

“We’ve sold five of the 35-meter and we’ve sold some of the 30 meter, too,” Noble said. “What we learn when we build a new model translates to everything we do.”


Princess Yachts America has an administrative office at Royal Poinciana Plaza. HMY is its dealer in the Palm Beach area, with an inventory of four-to-six new boats docked at Palm Harbor, 400 N. Flagler Drive, West Palm Beach. For information, call HMY at 833-6060.

article written for Palm Beach Daily News


 ::  Share or discuss  ::  2015-04-18  ::  Christine

Green gray yacht: Arcadia

Saturday 4 April 2015 - Filed under Luxury

If you saw the 85-foot Arcadia at last weekend’s boat show, don’t let appearances deceive you. This gray boat is green.

Built by Arcadia Yachts of Italy, “Arcadia’s ‘Eco + Think’ philosophy aims to leave less of a carbon footprint; the engines are very economical, at 12 knots only burning 18 gallons an hour,” says Dean Young, broker at HMY Yachts, and partner representative for Arcadia Yachts.

The main aft deck is set up for al fresco dining, and in the salon, glass is everywhere, with walls of glass port and starboard, a half-wall aft, and an entire ceiling that features two layers of glass, which sandwich photovoltaic cells. Flip a switch, and silhouette blinds slide into place for shade.

“It’s called a heavy glass veranda,” Young says.

The photovoltaic cells are capable of producing 4 kilowatts of electrical energy, which will power onboard the audio-visual equipment, refrigerator and freezer, lighting and the inverter that makes this power for a period of up to 12 hours.

The Arcadia also has a Hamann System, which turns black- and gray-water sewage to fully acceptable discharge in any marine environment, Young explains.

In addition to its green technology, the yacht is also lovely, comfy and roomy, with architecture and interior design by Francesco Guida. Surfaces are richly finished in washed oak, lacquered zebrawood, and slate. Furnishings are by Poltrona Frau Group, and audio/visual is all Bang & Olufsen.

The dining area is part of the salon, and forward are the galley, pilothouse and foredeck with a dining / seating area that converts to a sunbed.

On the lower deck are the full-beam ensuite master stateroom, ensuite VIP stateroom and two ensuite twin staterooms, as well as two crew quarters with heads, the engine room and tender garage.

The yacht will cruise at a comfortable range of 1,000 nautical miles at 12 knots, and top speed of 18 knots.

Arcadia Yachts is a new corporation based in Torre Annunziata, Italy, that started in 2007. This yacht, which was launched in September 2014, is No. 8 hull in its series and the first built to U.S. specifications.

Sold through HMY Yachts, Arcadia is priced at 5 million Euros. For information, call Young at 833-6060.

Written for the Palm Beach Daily News. Click here to go to the story.


 ::  Share or discuss  ::  2015-04-04  ::  Christine

Lisa Erdmann at Red Cross Designers Show House

Thursday 26 February 2015 - Filed under Palm Beach

As she embarks on her third decade in business, interior designer Lisa E. Erdmann follows an every-other-year schedule to decide when she will decorate a room in the American Red Cross Designers’ Show House, an annual fundraiser that benefits the charity’s Palm Beach Treasure Coast chapter. On alternate years, she focuses on a different organization, from creating a table setting for a benefit at the Norton Museum to helping the Center for Family Services renovate its West Palm Beach offices.

But this year, she’s returning her time and design talents to the 39th annual Red Cross Show House at a historic lakefront home in Lake Worth, which hosts a preview party Wednesday before opening to the public the next day for a month of tours.

“My parents raised me to always know it was our responsibility to give back if we had the means to do so,” Erdmann says. “So picking a charity is important in my makeup, and working with the Red Cross is a pleasure. It’s so well received that it helps expose our design talent, and it benefits them, too.”

Giving back is not the only way of thinking Erdmann learned from her family.

Her livelihood centers around homes and design, and she comes from a land-development family with a name certainly familiar to Palm Beachers. Her grandfather, E. Llwyd Ecclestone Sr. — an early proponent of building luxury homes clustered around golf courses — developed the South Florida luxury communities Lost Tree Village and John’s Island. Her father, Palm Beacher E. Llwyd Ecclestone, developed PGA National and Old Port Cove. Her brother, E. Llwyd Ecclestone III, meanwhile, has just finished work on a pair of houses he developed on speculation on the North End.

Erdmann graduated from Middlebury College in Vermont and attended Parsons School of Design while working in the design industry in New York City. Having also studied at Florida Institute of Technology, she founded Lisa Erdmann & Associates in 1994. It’s based at her family’s development offices in West Palm Beach but has also long maintained a Palm Beach address.

For this year’s show house, Erdmann is cooking up something special for the living room of the 1925 Mediterranean-style house known locally as the “Birthday Cake Castle,” although its formal name is La Florentia.

The 7,000 square foot house, recently bought by Scott Levine, was originally built by Sherman Childs. It received its Birthday Cake Castle nickname when former owner Upton Close gave the home to his wife, Margaret Fretter Nye, as a birthday present in 1954. With slender candle-like pillars, plaster swirls that resemble icing and graceful curves, it even has a birthday-cake stained-glass window in the stairwell.

Its grandly scaled rooms, casual spaces, and nooks and crannies of various shapes and sizes will be the basic ingredients for 20 designers, who will adorn them to create their own slices of decorating magic.

The living room’s existing architectural features were the starting points for Erdmann and her design team, Rhonda Grammer and Eden Tepper.

“It’s a gorgeous room, very big, with an original Adam fireplace, trefoil windows and original hardwood floor. It was a blank slate,” Erdmann says. “Since it’s an old house and has such wonderful character, we treated it like it was on the island of Palm Beach with a more formal living room.”

Erdmann often uses antiques as part as part of their design strategy, but in the Birthday Cake Castle they played an even more important role.

“This is the correct way the room should be presented. The home is Mediterranean, and the interior needs to be consistent with the exterior,” she explains.

Furniture pieces in the main seating area are grouped around the fireplace, a logical place to gather with family and friends. A second seating vignette, placed near an adjoining wall, consists of two wing chairs and a table, where the home’s residents might settle in for tea, or to play chess or backgammon.

Erdmann chose comfortable upholstered furniture, adding English antiques for a more formal feel. For balance, on the wall opposite the fireplace, she placed a Regency mahogany sideboard. Many of the antiques were supplied by The Elephant’s Foot on Antique Row in West Palm Beach.

Lamps and chandeliers are from Niermann Weeks. “The chandelier that swags either side of the fireplace are crystal and metal with a beautiful Venetian silver type of finish,” she says.

The color scheme is neutral with touches of icy blue. “A room this large needs color, but it has to be soft, which is more consistent with the formal style,” she says. “The room does not get lots of sunlight, and the icy blue brightens the room up.”

Fabrics are by Cowtan and Tout, and all the patterns are subtle, she says.

“There’s a soft pattern on the drapes, a small herringbone on one chair and a larger pattern on the wing chairs, but the room is not defined by pattern; it’s more defined by the mix of the pieces together.”

The goal, she adds, “was to be elegant. In a past showroom, I chose bold colors in the drapery fabric, to draw the eye to the view and away from the adjacent kitchen; that’s a little trick,” she says. “But this is an interior room, with no views. Even the stained glass keeps the eye inside, so the drapes are softer.”

Written for the Palm Beach Daily News, Feb. 27, 2015


 ::  Share or discuss  ::  2015-02-26  ::  Christine