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Palm Beach homes: Duck’s Nest improvements praised by board

Posted On: 01-19-2019

Landmarks commissioners this week applauded changes to a previously approved plan to partially demolish and restore Duck’s Nest.

The project is now a tax abatement — meaning the owners will receive a tax break for 10 years on the increase in property value that results from the project renovations.

In July, private-equity specialist Brian Simmons and his wife, Julie, bought Duck’s Nest for $7 million from the Maddock family, which owned it for more than 125 years. The Simmons live at 303 Maddock Way, in the house next door to Duck’s Nest, and plan to use the historic lakefront house as a guest home.

Some of the design changes are being made to better unify the Duck’s Nest lot, formerly at 305 Maddock Way, with the lot at 303 Maddock Way, project architect Roger Janssen said. The two sites have been legally unified under one title and address at 303 Maddock Way, he said.

Plans call for removing the swimming pool built for the Simmons’ house at 303 Maddock Way lot, and building a new 42-foot-long pool that will straddle the old property line between the two lots. The pool will include a small waterfall and spa.

Two kapok trees on either side of the pool will help frame the view between the two sites.

“You’ve made the right decision by moving the pool,” board Vice Chairman Rene Silvin said at Wednesday’s Landmarks Preservation Commission meeting. “It unifies the properties. It’s brilliant.”

Brian Vertesch, with SMI Landscape Architecture, said most of the new landscape changes are along the old property line. The grade is higher on the Duck’s Nest side, so low walls and steps will be used to accommodate the grade change between the two lots.

The Simmonses “want to connect both properties visually and functionally,” he said.

Commissioner Patrick Segraves applauded the use of a grassy area, instead of a walkway, to help tie the two lots together.

Other changes: the front walkway of Duck’s Nest will be brick, instead of concrete pavers; and the driveway will be gravel instead of concrete.

“Everything is a nice improvement,” Chairman Ted Cooney said. “I’m delighted to see the brick staying close to the house.”

A large old Banyan tree at the rear of the duck’s nest lot will remain; the earlier plan called for its removal.

Plans for the Duck’s Nest reconstruction also have some changes. They include the addition of a wood porch with low railing on the west façade, and some fenestration and interior changes that include shifting the location of the main stairway and updating the kitchen, Janssen said.

A multi-colored stained glass door will be replaced with a blue and white stained glass door to match the other stained glass features.

“It’s absolutely fabulous,” Commissioner Kim Coleman said of the design changes. “Everything the Simmons have done is just impeccable. We’re lucky they swooped in and saved the day.”

Duck’s Nest dates to 1891, but there have been numerous additions and alterations over the years.

In December 2017, the Maddocks and their architect, Keith Spina, said the wood-frame dwelling suffered structural deficiencies and had deteriorated beyond the prospect of restoration. They sought to demolish all of the walls and replace them with concrete block.

The commission had a mixed reaction, with some members sympathizing with the desire to modernize the home and others saying they weren’t convinced demolition was necessary or best for Duck’s Nest, which is the second-oldest residential structure in town.

The plans were withdrawn as the sale to the Simmonses was pending.

The couple’s plan, approved by the commission in September, emphasizes preservation over demolition, calling for partial razing and restoration of the original 1891 structure with minor alterations to the exterior.

Plans call for demolition of a 1954 John Volk-designed one-story garage. The two-story south wing, also by Volk, will be restored with one of the chimneys removed.

Plans call for “selective demolition” and remodeling of many interior features, including walls, cabinets, plumbing, a corner fireplace and a south wing staircase. Existing doors and windows will be preserved where possible, Janssen has said.

 

 

 

Source: William Kelly, January 19, 2019, Palm Beach Daily News

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