If you have been following my blog for some time, you know that one of my favorite pastimes is stalking real estate listings. So you can imagine my excitement when the famed Kennedy Compound on Palm Beach, Florida went on the market, providing an opportunity to take a glimpse inside the “Winter White House” and a slice of Camelot!
The Mediterranean Revival was built in the early 1920s by Addison Mizner, the legendary Palm Beach architect, for department store tycoon Rodman Wanamaker. Wanamaker sold the estate to Joeseph P. Kennedy for approximately $100,000 in 1933. Joe Kennedy added an additional wing to the house, designed by Maurice Fatio, along with a swimming pool and tennis court.
In 1995, the Kennedys sold the house, which was in disrepair and still without air conditioning and central heating, for $4.9M to the current owners, John K. Castle, chairman and CEO of Castle Harlan Inc., a New York-based investment firm, and his wife Marianne.
“Everyone in Palm Beach considered it a teardown,” Castle told Fast Company magazine in 2003. “They said the house was ugly and awful, beyond saving. If one of the few gas-fired heaters exploded, I wouldn’t have been surprised.”
But fortunately, Castle grasped the home’s potential and historical significance, calling it a “national sanctuary.” The Castles underwent a two year, $6M renovation in keeping with the home’s historical significance and Mizner’s original vision. They also purchased most of the Kennedy furniture for an additional $80K, including the beds of Joe, Jack, Bobby, and Ted, the family’s 18-foot-long dining table, J.F.K.’s mahogany massage table, and a chest of drawers with each drawer bearing a label in Rose’s handwriting describing the contents.