botas ugg bailey button Kennedys Sell Family House In Palm Beach
The Kennedy days in Palm Beach quietly ended today with the sale of the oceanfront property that Joseph P. Kennedy Sr. bought in 1933 as a vacation spot and that later became his son’s winter White House and eventually a symbol of the family’s troubles.
The house will become a historic landmark under an unusual deal struck by the Kennedys, the Palm Beach Town Council and the New York banker who bought the house and its furnishings, John K. Castle. The asking price was $7 million, although none of the parties would say what Mr. Castle and his wife, Marianne, paid and official county records were not yet available.
For the Kennedys, it was simply time to let go. With the death of Rose Kennedy this year, the house seemed more a part of history than a practical gathering place for a family that had grown large over three generations. In the early years it was where the patriarch taught the nation’s future leaders to swim, and where a young President chose his Cabinet. But later, the house became associated with tales of Senator Edward M. Kennedy’s drinking and his nephew’s trial on charges he raped a woman by the pool.
“Palm Beach is not a place where the youngest generation of Kennedys finds sustenance,” said Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., a historian who is a family friend. “They’re all off involved in good works of sorts, and Palm Beach is dedicated to frivolity.”
No single event led to the sale, said a family associate who would speak only if not identified. The house was put on the market at the end of 1993, well before Rose Kennedy’s death at 104 in January, and family members have said the decision to sell had nothing to do with the highly publicized rape trial and acquittal of William Kennedy Smith in 1991. “It’s something that the family has looked at over a long period of time,” the associate said, adding that no family members were talking about it.
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Neither Kennedys nor Castles were present this afternoon when their representatives made the sale official by exchanging papers here that both parties had previously signed, said Ron Kochman, the Palm Beach lawyer who handled the sale for Mr. Castle.
As part of the deal, the Castles will allow the town to make the house a landmark within five years. In exchange, the Castles will have those five years to make improvements subject to town approval that would otherwise be prohibited for a building with landmark protection.
One of the most significant changes will be to install air conditioning in the home that the Kennedys used more as a huge beach house. “We’ve just got to bring it up to the life style of the 1990’s,” said the architect hired by the Castles to make the improvements, Jeffery Smith. “The Kennedys have kept up the plumbing and electric and stuff, but it hasn’t really been renovated in any manner since 1928.”
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Also under the agreement the town council last week designated as landmarks the only parts visible from the street, the gate and part of the concrete perimeter wall. They will not be included in the renovations.
The agreement on the house’s landmark status ended a 15 year old dispute between the Kennedys and the town’s landmark commission. In 1979 the town began a movement to preserve landmarks, beginning with a house where Douglas Fairbanks had lived and since then at least 100 houses have been designated as landmarks.
The Kennedys had resisted designating the house as a landmark, arguing that the commission’s prohibition against major renovations would scare away buyers. In 1980, the board first tried to make it a landmark, but the family blocked that in court. The Kennedys stymied similar efforts in 1990 and again last year, when they brought a lawsuit that led to the settlement and sale.
The 72 year old house was built for a member of the Philadelphia family that owned department stores, Redman Wanamaker, by Addison Mizner, whose Mediterranean designs still define Palm Beach architecture. In 1933, the six bedroom house was sold to Joseph Kennedy for $120,000, and over the years his family installed a swimming pool and tennis courts on the two acre site that the Wanamakers had named “La Guerida” bounty of war.
Mr. Castle said he and his wife did not buy the house, which has a 176 foot section of beach, as a novelty item, but as a fun winter home that is a step up from the condominium they’ve had here for about six years. “It’s a great house, great view,” Mr. Castle said in a telephone interview from Manhattan, where he lives on Park Avenue. “It’s a wonderful house for a family, lots of things that are good for kids beach, tennis and we look forward to having it as a great home for our children, who are in their 20’s.”
Mr. Castle is chairman and chief executive officer of Castle Harlan, a private merchant bank that buys and sells businesses. Since he founded it in 1986, the bank has owned or controlled businesses that include the Ethan Allen furniture company, Long John Silver’s fast food restaurants, Sealed Air Corporation, which makes plastic bubble packaging, and Delaware Management, a money management firm. The 44 year old is also known as something of an adventurer who has completed about three quarters of an incremental circumnavigation of the globe by sailboat.