What makes a landmark unique? It’s not only the architectural style but the history and the people who make it a home. Three Seasons is a stately Mediterranean Revival–style house on South Ocean Boulevard that embraces indoor and outdoor living.
Originally named Casa Ananda—Sanskrit for joy—Three Seasons’ first owners were Alfred and Elizabeth Kay, who contracted builder Cooper Lightbown to construct the house in 1924. Elizabeth Kay is often attributed as the designer of the house, although there is no record confirming this. However, she was cited as the designer of another residence on County Road and a remodel of The Villas Hotel. In addition to her design expertise, Kay was known for her community involvement. She was president of the Garden Club of Palm Beach, and authored and edited books on botany with her husband. She also helped start Palm Beach Day Academy and founded the Pine Jog Environmental Education Center.
The southern portion of the estate was once a place of controversy. Kay gained notoriety in 1925 when she erected a fence for privacy from her neighbor Harold Vanderbilt, who occupied nearby El Solano at the time. When The Palm Beach Post published a story about the dispute, it took an astonished tone—what woman would dare inconvenience a Vanderbilt?
The estate boasts a number of interesting architectural features, but its southern portion houses two very unique components. First, a breezeway bridge connects the main house to the guest quarters and garage, creating an elegant feeling of separation between the structures. Second is the loggia overlooking a walled garden with a glazed tile fountain. Kay wrote about her gardens, describing them as being “pervaded by a peace that passeth understanding.” It’s evident that Kay thought of her home as a sanctuary, and perhaps this contributed to her desire to protect it from her neighbor. Through her cultivation of outdoor spaces, she brought that peace into her home.
Seventy-four years after the Kays made Casa Ananda their home, it was saved from demolition and designated as a landmark in 1998. It was protected, but it sat vacant for close to 20 years before the Pattersons purchased it in 2009. Best-selling author James Patterson and vice chairman of the Landmarks Preservation Commission Sue Patterson are passionate about historic preservation. They say they enjoyed rehabilitating the house. In fact, the process inspired Sue Patterson to join the Landmarks Preservation Commission. The Pattersons solidified their new home with a new name: Three Seasons.
Due to the state of the structure and previous renovations, it was difficult to preserve all of the historical elements in their original location. But the Pattersons were committed to repurposing remnants—for instance, the cast-stone staircase became a decorative feature on the back-garden wall, and the wood from the original ceiling was incorporated into the north loggia outside.
Through their efforts, the Pattersons have revitalized this historic home. It’s filled with warmth and offers spectacular views of the ocean from its many windows and vantage points. All of those windows bring in natural light, illuminating the rooms and highlighting the openness of the space. Sue Patterson says that all of the rooms and the layout work perfectly, and that she “loved being able to save something that’s part of Palm Beach history.”
Marie Penny is the director of archives for the Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach.