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Historic Lake Worth home to host Red Cross show house

Posted On: 01-07-2015

By Darrell Hofheinz Daily News Real Estate Writer

A bevy of decorators — including several from Palm Beach — is preparing to descend on a historic house in Lake Worth, the site of this spring’s annual American Red Cross Designers’ Show House.

But first, new owner Scott Levine needs to finish up some renovations to the 1925 property, known locally as the “Birthday Cake Castle,” at 1 S. Fifth Ave., according to island interior designer Bill Kopp.

“A new master-suite addition as well as new windows are being installed,” said Kopp, who has returned as one of the general chairmen of the fundraiser.

The Red Cross will take over the property Jan. 19, when more than 15 design firms will begin to decorate rooms and landscape the exterior. The show house will open for tours beginning March 5 and close April 4, just before Easter Sunday.

The opening date will be later in the season than in some years. The change was necessary, in part, to accommodate the renovations, Kopp said.

“We’ve had it open around Easter before. A later date doesn’t really affect our attendance,” said Kopp, president of Smith Interior Design Group.

The Mediterranean-style house faces the Lake Worth Lagoon, about a half-mile south of the Lake Worth Road bridge to Palm Beach. Formally christened La Florentia, the house was designed by Sherman Childs, a protégé of noted society architect Addison Mizner.

With more than 7,000 square feet of interior space, the house got its birthday-cake nickname when former owner Upton Close presented it to his wife, Margaret Fretter Nye, as a birthday present in 1954. The house was the first property to be listed in the Lake Worth Register of Historic Places.

The house’s history gives it an extra layer of interest, said Palm Beach decorator Stephen Mooney, who is serving alongside Kopp as general co-chairman along with co-general chairwoman Mimi Monell Masri.

“There’s a story behind this house — it’s not just a home,” said Mooney, principal of Stephen Mooney Interiors.

Some of the architectural features go along with the birthday-cake theme, including swirled plaster-work that resembles icing. One stained-glass window features the image of a birthday cake.

“The house has some quirky features, including a crooked staircase and a wonderful tower room,” Kopp said.

Levine bought the property in October from Farouk Hammad and his daughter, Manal Hammad, a real estate agent at Scott Gordon Realty, for $1.9 million, according to property records. Agent Elaine Edwards of Brown Harris Stevens represented Levine.

Before it sold, Kopp said, the previous owners had agreed to let the Red Cross use the house for the fundraiser. The sale could have derailed those plans, Kopp said, but Levine was happy allow the project to proceed.

Levine couldn’t be reached for comment.

Other Palm Beach design professionals taking part include Keith Williams of Nievera Williams Design, who is the project’s landscape chairman; Lisa Erdmann, Rhonda Grammer and Eden Tepper of Lisa Erdmann & Associates; and Fernando Wong and Tim Johnson of Fernando Wong Outdoor Living Design.

 

Source: Darrell Hofheinz, January 7 2015, Palm Beach Daily News

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