Rare indeed is the allowance of demolition of a landmarked home.  Vita Serena was designed by Marion Sims Wyeth in 1926, but the house, at 105 Clarendon Avenue, Palm Beach had numerous problems such as decaying wood frame walls, termite infestation and extensive water damage.  Preservation was out of the question. The house was landmarked in 1990. For three decades it was the home of Jean Flagler Matthews, granddaughter of Henry F Flagler.  During the 1960’s, King Saud of Saudi Arabia leased the estate for several weeks.

A replica is being constructed by architect Harold Smith and structural engineer Albert Gargiulo, who said, “We are trying to work within the constraints of the decaying structure, and he recommends using reinforced interior masonry resting on a new foundation.  The contractor is John Rossi.  A stop-work order was issued by the town according to the September 5, 2014 issue of the Palm Beach Daily News and on September 19th the paper reported that demolition was approved. 

The house sits on 2.2 acres with 143’ of oceanfront.  Interiors included old world detailing, cornices, moldings, arches, pecky cypress, 12’ ceilings.  There is a private tunnel to the beach, a 60’ pool, tennis court, oceanfront cabana, 5-car garage and whole house generator.  There was a finished basement and 680 ft of parking, fireplace and garden.   Public records show the house was sold in August 2013 for $86,699  while the Palm Beach Daily News reported on that day that the house sold for $10+MM and included an adjacent 4-bedroom guest house on South County Road.  The property is on a curve on South County and sale totaled $17.4MM.

The Palm Beach Town Council voted in January 2012 not to designate a Mediterranean Revival-style house at 100 El Bravo Way, a Landmark.  A 2000 sq ft addition to the 1922 home by Marion Sims Wyeth had altered the building’s form to such an extent that it no longer met the landmark criteria.  The work included a second floor added to the north portion of the house, saying  “this is a different house.  It doesn’t serve as a representative specimen of Wyeth.”

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