One winds through a landscape of mature trees and plants before reaching the gracious motor court of a two-story Georgian-style home on Jupiter Island, built in 1965 by noted Palm Beach architect John Volk for John B. Ford Jr. and his wife, Mary Holland Ford.
And while the house at 293 S. Beach Road still retains its original elegance and charm, it has been brought into the 21st century, thoughtfully renovated and updated by homeowner and designer Lynn Sabella and her husband, Richard.
“My husband and I love old houses,” Lynn explains. “We were looking for something special to renovate as opposed to doing a new construction project.”
On a relatively high elevation and presiding over nearly three acres of property on the coast of Martin County, the house is listed for sale at $25 million by Corcoran Group Real Estate.
Like many old homes, Sabella says, this one gave up some secrets about its owners during the renovation.
“For example, in Mrs. Ford’s closet, she left a handwritten list, spanning many years, of which outfits were worn to which parities and other engagements, so as not to repeat the same outfit at the same home or subsequent occasion.”
In addition, when the Sabellas acquired the house, some of the Fords’ furniture remained, as did an old intercom system to call the butler and maids along with a telephone room under the stairs. The kitchen, too, had been designed primarily for use by staff. All of those details gave hints of the house’s history, but because the home offered a timeless layout, it had the potential for a reconfiguration, Sabella notes.
Sabella eliminated staff rooms to create a 45-foot family room with panoramic views of the ocean. The foyer has been enlarged, ceiling heights raised and rooms extended. An upstairs terrace has been enclosed to add space in the master suite. The original kitchen is now a chef’s delight. Closets, the stairwell and bathrooms – along with the basement space – have all been reconfigured.
“All of the changes were made in a manner intended to complement the existing architecture and floor plan,” Sabella says.
The oceanfront estate comprises a main house with five bedrooms, six bathrooms and three powder rooms plus a staff/guest apartment over a garage set amid sea grape trees north of the main house.
One can still see some Volk architectural features, including the stepped-pyramid roofs on the golf-cart garage and on the cabana and summer kitchen by the pool.
The entry off the motor court maintains much of its original appeal, too. It is stately and retains original features that include a covered and columned front loggia.
One walks through front doors made of glass, wrought iron and mahogany into a formal reception room featuring wainscoting, picture molding and a cherry-framed limestone floor. The high-pitched cypress ceiling is stunning. French doors to the south open onto the formal courtyard terrace, walkways and pool area to the south.
In the west wing and to the north is a library with a tray ceiling, oak floors, a marble fireplace with a carved wood mantel and three-quarter-height mahogany wainscoting. Two guest bedroom suites are also in the west wing – the southernmost bedroom opens to a courtyard. Both bedrooms are painted cream with white trim.
East and north of the entry hall are the butler pantry, the large kitchen and the massive family room directly facing the ocean.
The kitchen has two center islands, Australian knotty-cypress floors, a pitched ceiling, white marble counters and dark-wood cabinets. Stainless-steel appliances include a Wolf gas stove with grill and griddle, a Thermador microwave oven, two Sub-Zero refrigerators with freezer drawers, two Asko dishwashers and a Scotsman icemaker. The breakfast area has French doors facing patios on the east and south.
The breakfast area also opens to the family room, with its dark-wood pitched ceiling, cypress floors and windows and doors on three sides offering views of the ocean and lush landscaping.
Farther south in the east wing is the original dining room. It features an ocean-side alcove, parquet floor, a chair rail and a tray ceiling with a center medallion and decorative crown molding. Nearby is a dramatic stairwell with glass framed in dark wood.
Walking south along the gallery, one comes to the living room, where a coffered ceiling sets a formal tone and French doors on the east open to a limestone patio with views of the sea. The floor is covered in oak planks set in a herringbone pattern and framed in mahogany. The fireplace’s white-wood carved mantel features the original Coquina-stone hearth.
Farther south in the gallery are two archways leading to a pair of bedroom suites – one views the ocean and has original architectural details. The second opens to the pool area.
Upstairs is the master suite with French doors and an oceanside terrace. The bedroom features mahogany floors, a pitched ceiling, his-and-her baths and dressing areas, a breakfast kitchen and a living room viewing the sea. The woman’s bath and the suite’s living room boast original hickory floors.
The house has been pre-wired for cable and a sound system. The latter would likely have appealed to the home’s original owner: The late John B. Ford Jr. was a music lover who, in the early 1950s, spearheaded the revival of the foundering Detroit Symphony Orchestra, eventually serving as its director for 30 years.
Other features of the Beach Road property include impact-resistant windows and doors, an elevator, a Lutron lighting-control system, a central vacuum system, a security system and eight-zone air-conditioning in the main house.
With the renovation completed, Lynn Sabella continues to marvel at how Volk positioned the residence to take full advantage of its seaside location in Jupiter Island, a town consistently ranked by Forbes Magazine and other sources as the wealthiest in the United States.
“The manner in which this house and its major rooms were oriented to the ocean seemed to us to be perfect,” says Sabella.
For information about 293 S. Beach Road, call Realtor Rosalind Clarke in Palm Beach at (561) 818-6351.