(Letter from October 1975)
My father came to PB [Palm Beach] only once for 1-2 days when I was 5 years old and then went on to the Flagler Hotel in Miami where there were better facilities for fishing…that was in 1901″
Alice fell in love with the area after her first visit during Easter Vacation and a few years after her father died, decided to make it her winter home base, her respite, from the apartments in Paris and New York City. She quickly started on the intricate design and construction of a mansion of her own with the purchase of land spanning the island from the Atlantic Ocean to Lake Worth. It turned out it wasn’t initially to her liking so she sold the Lake Worth side of the property and rebuilt across the road on the remaining land. Throughout the 1930 and ’40s she expanded the Spanish-style estate, spending many months at a time carefully and diligently planning the build-out. She had a passion and persistent interest in architecture which would continue throughout her life in PB and in Connecticut.
The saltwater pool was lined with imported Italian tiles Alice picked out by hand, she had a tennis court built to the side of the main house (although it’s perplexing as to why given she never showed an interest in athletics of any kind), a mini-zoo and what amounted to a massive jungle of exotic plants, trees and thick shrubs that lined the long gravel driveway. Alice began to entertain a great deal here, spending the winter season at this custom place of comfort complete with her servants, her cats and her carefully hand-picked friends.
By 1929 Alice was soon dubbed a Palm Beach colonist, doyenne of society and the press couldn’t stop themselves from claiming she “partied at The Everglades Club, tea danced at the Royal Poinciana and The Colony Club.” That press continued throughout her life, showing up in The Shiney Sheet almost weekly much to her chagrin. It also didn’t stop the Garden Club of Palm Beach from encouraging some 1,500 visitors to Alice’s home during the 1961 spring “House and Garden Day.”
One of my favorite quotes from an Alice letter says what 1425 S. Ocean Boulevard really ended up becoming…..
“The house is filling up; Lucia [pioneer aviatrix, Igor Stravinsky’s personal assistant and Alice’s decades long closest companion] is here, Aileen [Hennessey of the Cognac kind] also, and Hubert Givenchy is here and Philippe arrives tomorrow and also Gold and Fitzdale giving a concert at Four Arts…”