Honoring Palm Beach Architecture


Next month, on December 10, the Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach will celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Robert I. Ballinger Award with an award presentation and luncheon at The Breakers. In addition to honoring this year’s Ballinger recipient, the event will toast the publication of the Preservation Foundation’s new book, Palm Beach: An Architectural Heritage, published by Rizzoli. Detailing the meticulous restorations of 38 grand estates and public buildings, the elegant volume is an inspiring visual treat inside the historic properties that have received the highly prized Ballinger Award over the past 30 years. Lady Henrietta Spencer-Churchill, who penned the foreword to the book, will appear at this year’s luncheon to speak about the importance of historic preservation—and to recognize the private owners who serve as guardians of Palm Beach’s heritage.

The 2018 Ballinger Award recipients are Jordan and Thomas Saunders, owners of Ivor House. Completed in 1937, Ivor House was designed in the British Colonial style with Georgian influence by architect Marion Sims Wyeth of Wyeth & King. Showcasing Wyeth’s mastery of classical architecture, the symmetrically balanced façade is accented by a louvered portico with a denticulated cornice. The entrance halls showcase an original stair railing with an intricate Chinese design rendered in wood along with carefully preserved crown molding, paneling, foxed mirrors, and French doors with arched transoms leading to the loggia. Of particular note are the grisaille murals of the entrance halls, which were painted by the renowned muralist Graham Rust. The murals feature scenes of a romanticized ancient China along with boldly colored native birds of Florida and Virginia—nods to the owners’ home states.

The Saunders were deeply involved in the design and execution phases of the recent renovation project, paying special attention to the classically inspired landscaping and chinoiserie motif throughout the property. Thomas Kirchhoff of Kirchhoff and Associates Architects, Thomas Samet of Hamptons House Design, Keith Williams of Nievera Williams Design, and Davis General Contracting were all part of the design team on the Ivor House renovation.

The Ballinger Award, established in 1988, goes to one or more individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to Palm Beach’s architectural heritage through the preservation of historic architecture. As timing would have it, the work of Graham Rust will also be on display at the headquarters of the Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach from February 19 to April 18, 2019. The exhibit, “Graham Rust: Designs and Illustrations,” will showcase the artist’s designs for mural decoration and trompe l’oeil as well as other smaller projects. His mural and ceiling paintings can be found in houses in Britain, Europe, and America. The most spectacular of these, The Temptation, at Ragley Hall in Warwickshire, England, took over a decade to complete.

Copies of Palm Beach: An Architectural Heritage (Rizzoli) can be purchased through the Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach at shoppalmbeachpreservation.org.