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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

a really haute ride

Thursday 26 February 2015 - Filed under Palm Beach

For a chic two-wheel ride that celebrates Italian Week Palm Beach in style, hop on the bella Benelli Classica eBike, which importer Larry Ferracci calls “an haute item.”

Benelli Classica eBike

It’s being shown from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. today and Friday at MacKenzie-Childs Palm Beach, 238 Worth Ave.

Benelli, a century-old luxury Italian brand known for its motorcycles, launched the Classica in December. For Italian Week, it’s available for test rides and for sale with a percentage of proceeds benefiting Il Circolo Palm Beach.

The Classica, which is perfect for urban streets, has a top speed of 20 mph and a range up to 40 miles. It comes in white, cream and black with natural saddle-color leather handlebar grips and seat. Its features include a lightweight lithium battery pack, with Samsung cell technology, that is concealed in the front frame. Recharging is as easy as charging a laptop.

It can be ridden as a bike without pedal-assist, or its rider can twist the shift on the grip to engage the motor and change speeds. Its LCD display shows battery capacity, speed and total distance.

“It’s a classic Milan bicycle and that’s what appeals to me,” Ferracci said. “And I like to think of riding a bike as fun.

“The last time I was in Palm Beach at the Four Seasons, I rode one of their bikes south to Manalapan. It was a nice leisurely ride and I was cruising looking around, but it took longer coming back because of 10 to 15 mile-an-hour headwinds.”

That’s when he wished he was riding a Classica electric bike with pedal assist, he said.

How does the bike work? Just like a bike. With its step-through design, you just get on and pedal. Engaging the motor is intuitive, with the dash integrated into the handlebar. From the grip, twist it on, choose the speed level, pedal and the system activates. It also has a throttle for a burst of energy.

Benelli Classica eBikes, priced at $2,100, can be drop-shipped anywhere in the United States within three or four days. For information, visit They also are available at specialty bicycle dealers, including Palm Beach Bicycle Trail Shop.

Easily maintained and serviced, “it is 98 percent a standard bicycle, with most of its components available at any bike shop,” Ferracci said. “There are only three special components: the front motor, display and battery pack; and a bike shop can call us for those parts, and we’ll send them.

“Keep air in the tires and the batteries charged, and you’ll have an enjoyable time.”

Written for Palm Beach Daily News, February 26, 2015


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

Building Rybovich boats a family affair

Saturday 21 February 2015 - Filed under Palm Beach

Just up the waterway from Wayne Huizenga Jr.’s marina, Rybovich, is the Michael Rybovich & Sons Boat Works in Palm Beach Gardens at 2175 Idlewild Road, where Michael and Dusty Rybovich build sportfishing boats in their family’s tradition.

At 64 feet long overall with 18 feet of beam, Lizzie Bee’s walkaround design allows for fishing all the way around the boat. It has a 360-degree center-console fishing platform with a large raised helm deck, well-appointed cabin and four staterooms. “My wife, Pat, likes it as much as I do. She did all the interior design, and is just as enthusiastic,” Larry Wilson said. At its final sea trial, Wilson said: “We went from Palm Beach to Miami and back this morning. Ran perfectly: smooth, dry, fast, fuel efficient, quiet and a great ride.”


After Huizenga Jr. bought the Rybovich Spencer boatyard in 2004, he hired Michael to head the new-construction end of the business, Michael explained.

“But when economy tanked, so did interest in new construction, and rather than fund a speculative new-construction venture, they decided to disband the company that was responsible for new construction.”

After he left Huizenga’s Rybovich, in 2011 he, with Palm Beacher Larry Wilson, acquired land owned by E&H Boat Works. Then, Michael sunk money into the rundown property, cleaning it up and rebuilding to create his new boat building, maintenance, modification and repairs company.

Family affair

Building Rybovich boats has been a family affair from its first boat, the 34-foot Miss Chevy II built for Charles Johnson in 1947, and it still is.

Dusty and Michael Rybovich, photo courtesy of Robert Holland


“In 1975 when I was 19, I was officially placed on the payroll,” Michael said. “I worked on a bottom crew. They haul, launch the boats, clean the bottoms, pull propellers, anything to do with work below the waterline.”

His son, Dusty, was born to the business. Dusty’s favorite Rybovich boat is hull No. 110, a 33-footer built at Ryco Marine in 1987. Dusty helped put new engines in it when he was in high school, he said. “Dad told me he was doing that boat’s sea trial, when mom went into labor with me.”

Like his father, he worked in the boat yard when he was in high school. “I’d come in after school and take care of all the messy jobs: painting in small areas, cleaning up, (doing) basic carpentry, digging through rotten wood, scraping barnacles.”

Undaunted, after high school, he went to Webb Institute in New York state and is now a naval architect and marine engineer. He joined his father in January 2013. “I guess being in the family business was what I’ve always wanted,” Dusty said.

Now with renovations complete, Michael Rybovich & Sons is up and running in all areas.

“We’ve done several major refits in addition to routine service and maintenance,” Michael said. “We worked a lot on our own boats and we’ll work on boats built by others, but most of our customers own one or more of our boats. I’d say we’ve worked on 20 to 25 of them.”

Custom boat builder

The boat building part of the company got underway in May 2012 with a 64-foot walkaround for Larry Wilson. It was finished summer 2014.

“Larry has been a fisherman and boat owner long enough to know exactly what he wants, and every time we’ve done work for Larry he wants something different,” Michael said. “He likes being involved in projects that push the envelope.

“This one was the largest walkaround that we’d ever built, and it had a unique propulsion system using a Volvo IPS Pod drive (a system that has forward-facing counter rotating propellers).”

How does Michael build boats compared to his father, grandfather and uncles? “I don’t want to get stuck with a particular method because we are constantly experimenting with methods of construction, combining Old World craftsmanship with the latest in weight-saving technology,” he said.

Currently, an 86-foot and a 68-foot conventional sportfishing boats are in the works.

“For our new construction business, we are a total custom-builder,” Michael said. “We can build anybody anything they want from 40 to 100 feet as long as it looks and performs like one of our boats.”

Since Dusty joined his father, designing is now digital. “We see how the boat is going to fit before we built it. It’s a great timesaver,” Dusty said.

“While each boat is completely custom, including the way it looks, we try to keep with our signature theme, but make each boat unique unto itself.”

Wilson, who has owned six Rybovich boats, has this to say: “Since 1947, the Rybovich family has been very innovative, with the tuna tower, transom door, fighting chair, and other items that are now standard for sportfishing boats.

“Rybovich boats were always the highest quality, and they were always made out of wood, which is lighter than fiberglass, and has a more elegant look. Of all the Rybovich boats built, 124 are still in use. That’s eight decades. They are works of art.

“Mike is a perfectionist, wants it right and keeps to a high standard,” he said. “He continues to build boats that ride better and perform better than other boats. They are more efficient and elegant. He builds a boat that I believe is the best.”

Currently, in addition to owning the 64-foot walkaround recently launched, Michael Rybovich & Sons’ hull No. 1, Lizzie Bee, Wilson also owns the 32-foot, Charmer, hull No. 108, built at Ryco Marine in 1985, and launched at that same time as Ruthie.

published: Palm Beach Daily News


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