Built in 1886, Sea Gull Cottage is Palm Beach’s oldest building and Henry Flagler’s first home there. The cottage is adjacent to the Royal Poinciana Chapel, built in 1896 by Flagler for his guests. This week crews are raising the Victorian-style cottage by a foot to improve drainage, only the first major step in a reconstruction, restoration and expansion project. Wood siding will be removed in sections and replace with more weather-resistant Hardi board. Second floor rooms will be eliminated to make space for a 2.000 sq ft addition for religious education classrooms and meeting place. A turret removed some time ago will be replaced. The height of the piers supporting the cottage will be increased and a concrete foundation for the addition will be poured to secure the base. The doors and stained glass windows have been temporarily removed and windows will be incorporated into new impact-resistant windows. Since 2006 the cottage has had permanent landmark status, keeping the cottage on chapel grounds. Preservation groups are accepting more and more the use of newer materials to replace historic construction materials. Completion of all work is expected in about a year.



For the last 30-years, “Singing Pines” house has been the home of the Boca Raton Children’s Museum. Celebrations are scheduled for October, along with the first phase of expansion, and will feature a look back at Boca’s pioneer history, a display “for kids and about kids.” Located at 498 Crawford Boulevard, the museum will soon look like a village green. Author Diane Benedetto has written a book on what it was like to be a kid in the pioneer days and will be taking part. A Memorabilia Closet will hold toys and clothes from that era. Historic photos will be included, in particular on of the aftermath of a 1920’s hurricane where everything is devastated but “Singing Pines” remains standing. The house was built by William Myrick who purchased the property from Henry M. Flagler’s Model Land Company and the Myricks were one of 13 families who settled in Boca Raton in 1913. Phase II will be a high-tech house with a mini-Imax theatre and computer labs that give children an opportunity to create science projects, make films… and more. It will be named “The Voyager,” using designs from H.G. Wells and Jules Verne. Museum Hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 12-4 pm. For more information call 561-368-6875.



Once owned by Bill Gates, La Leopolda, 10 acres, said to have the best views in Southern France, reportedly built by Belgium’s King Leopold for his mistresses, has been purchased by  a Russian billionaire, reportedly for CASH. A regular 80% mortgage would have monthly payments of over $3,000,000! 

ADDITIONAL NOTE: In August 2008, Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov put Villa Leopold under contract for $750MM. In March 2010, he tried to back out of the deal and wanted his $50MM deposit back.  Owner Lilly Safra went to court and they ruled in her favor and she was also awarded damages.  Ms. Safra indicated she would be donating the money to charities.