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Ham-and-cheese’ house sells for nearly $16M

Posted On: 06-05-2013

By Darrell Hofheinz

Daily News Real Estate Writer

A part-time Palm Beach couple has acquired one of the island’s architectural icons — the so-called “ham-and-cheese” house at 920 S. Ocean Blvd. — for a recorded $15.975 million.

Penelope and Marion Hugh Antonini of Connecticut, who own another historic house at 4 Golfview Road, bought the landmarked oceanfront mansion, which was built in 1928, through a deed recorded Tuesday by the Palm Beach County Clerk’s office.

Michigan businessman Charles “Chuck” E. Becker sold the house, acting individually and as trustee of a revocable living trust in his name, according to the deed. He and his wife, Michelle, had used the restored house for vacations with their children since the trust acquired it in 2000 for $13 million, according to property records.

Originally christened Casa Eleda, the house was designed in the Italian Romanesque style by society architect Maurice Fatio and has eight bedrooms and 22,253 square feet of living space, inside and out. With about 154 feet of oceanfront, the property measures a little more than an acre at the corner of Via Bellaria in the Estate Section.

Built around an interior courtyard, the house is among the most recognizable on the island, thanks to its exterior’s alternating horizontal bands of red brick and coral Key stone.

The Corcoran Group handled both sides of the sale. Representing the Beckers, agent Jim McCann had listed the property for sale at $22.5 million. That was the same price it had carried since he first acquired the listing in November 2010, although the home had been and off the market during that time, according to records in the multiple listing services that serve the island.

Agent Alison Newton acted for the buyers. She also has co-listed, with McCann, the Antoninis’ landmarked house on Golfview Road — designed by society architect Marion Sims Wyeth and built in 1928 — for sale at just under $13 million. They have owed the four-bedroom, 4,480-square-foot house since 2005, property records show. The Antoninis also have a house in New Canaan, Conn.

Newton and McCann declined to discuss the sale, citing confidentiality agreements. The Beckers and the Antoninis could not be reached for comment.

Tunnel to the beach

Fatio designed Casa Eleda for investment banker Mortimer Schiff and wife Adele Neustadt Schiff — the “Eleda” is actually her name spelled backward.

The two-story house on South Ocean Boulevard has an extensive basement — unusual in Palm Beach — along with a tunnel beneath South Ocean Boulevard that accesses the beach and a private cabana.

Among the mansion’s details are pecky cypress-beamed ceilings, ornately carved stonework, five fireplaces and three loggias facing the courtyard’s pool. There’s also a two-bedroom staff apartment above the three-car garage.

“I love the house and its layout,” Chuck Becker told the Palm Beach Daily News in a 2011 article about the house. “People always comment on the elaborate hand-painted ceilings. The rooms are large and have high ceilings, which give them a grand feeling.”

A house restored

The Becker trust had bought the house from real estate developer and investor Robert Fessler, a Manalapan resident who has built or renovated a number of homes in Palm Beach over the years.

Fessler had made improvements to the house, which had already been extensively restored by another owner, James. S. Sullivan, who bought it in 1981 and sold it a decade later. Today, Sullivan is serving a 2006 life-without-parole sentence after being convicted of hiring a hit man who killed his wife, Lita McClinton Sullivan, in 1987 at her suburban Atlanta home.

Sullivan’s sensitive restoration of the property in the early 1980s was among the reasons he was named to the town’s then-relatively new Landmarks Preservation Commission, for which he eventually served as chairman.

The house was granted landmark protection by the town in December 1979.

Chuck Becker owns Michigan-based Becker Ventures, a real estate and hospitality investment company he founded after selling, in 2001, his successful Becker Group, a Detroit company that manufactured parts for car interiors. The Beckers’ primary home is outside Detroit in Grosse Pointe.

Marion H. Antonini’s wide-ranging career has included tenure as principal of the New York-based Kolberg & Co. as well as leadership roles at several companies related to the private-equity firm. He also is the former CEO of Welbilt Corp., a manufacturer of commercial food-service equipment.

 

Source: Darrell Hofheinz, June 5, 2013, Palm Beach Daily News

http://www.palmbeachdailynews.com/news/news/world/ham-and-cheese-house-sells-for-nearly-16m/nYCm5/

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