The centuries old art and architecture that defines the French experience needs 21st century care. And so, the French Heritage Society, with its mission to preserve and protect significant examples of French architectural style, is arguably protecting the country’s greatest asset. Their Palm Beach gala, at Club Colette, was chaired by Michael Kovner and Jean Doyen de Montaillou, Jocelyn and Robin Martin and Jeannie and Tom Rutherfoord. Additional flair was provided by CeCe Black, Board Chair of Special Events, Suzanne Stoll, Palm Beach Representative, and in the presence of FHS Chairman Elizabeth F. Stribling, FHS President Denis de Kergorlay, Consul General of France in Miami, Clément Leclerc with his wife Erin Leclerc, and Ambassador and Mrs. Howard H. Leach.
Guests included Alixandra Baker, Laurie Bodor, Karen K. Clark, Lucy and Nat Day, Randolph Fishburn and Andrew Sands, Ron Fleming, Mai Hallingby-Harrison, Lou Rena Hammond, Linda and Charles Hickox, Jane and Peter Hill, Sarah Stimson Karis, Ursula and Paul Lowerre, Raymond Lucchetti, Chips and Sarah Page, Jay R. Paul, Natalie Pray, Barbara Price and Virginia Crisman, Diana Quasha, Jean Shafiroff, Suzette Smith, Mr. and Mrs. Pascal Franchot Tone, Christopher E. Walling, Gil Walsh and John Johnston.
“The Florida relation started more than 450 years ago,” the Consul General of France in Miami Clément Leclerc related. “The French tried to set foot in Florida as early as the 1560s.” They lost that claim to the Spaniards. “But what defeated us actually were the hurricanes,” said Leclerc. “So let’s assume that that was the only strength that could actually defeat us,” he joked, with a humorous self-deprecating reference to “French arrogance.”
It’s not just buildings in France they are funding, Cece Black told the room, assembled within a few miles from the Winter White House. “We are restoring in the U.S., things of French influence. We have six or seven projects in New Orleans. And we helped do the Legion of Honor in San Francisco.”
The Society also sponsors a student exchange program. “Each year, French Heritage Society selects and sends about 35 to 40 students from universities throughout France and the United States on internship programs on the other side of the Atlantic,” Director Jennifer Herlein said. “This is a program that we think is a very important way for us to ensure that there is a future for preservation, which ties into our other fundraising efforts of restoring chateaus and other buildings both in France and the United States.” In the past year, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Frick and the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York and the Museum d’Orsay in Paris were among the institutions that have joined this program to accept interns.
“The interviews are actually going on right now in Paris,” Herlein added.