"Four balconies opened off the second-floor rooms in the east wing. Every bedroom had its own sitting room and bath. Several of the baths were especially designed by the Colonel himself, according to James A. Dixon, one of Florida's most distinguished lawyers, who represented the Green interests in that state.
" 'Each throne,' explained Dixon, 'was mounted on a pedestal about eight inches over the floor. Thus, unless the user was well over six feet tall, he would be extremely uncomfortable, with his legs dangling in midair.' "
The oversize toilets are gone now. The porno-film viewing room has been turned into a bar and den; the vault where the films were kept is now a wine closet. Ned's 12 tiny "special rooms" off the main hallway have been converted into a dayroom.
"When Green moved in he brought his wife, Mabel, and a staff of close to 100," Kuechenberg says. "Mabel had been a Chicago hooker; she'd been Ned's mistress for 24 years, and then, when his mother died, he married her. The little rooms were for Ned's protégées, a special staff of two dozen young women, all 18 to 25 and good-looking. Those rooms were a kind of bordello.
"The things that must have gone on here—the parties he must have thrown! There's an old guy who remembers Ned. He was his milkman. He says one year during the Depression, Ned threw a St. Patrick's Day party and he spent thousands of dollars on flowers alone. There was a tower of flowers in front.
"You know, it's funny. One day we were outside and a neighbor of ours was taking some people for a spin in his motorboat. They were talking over the engines, and I heard someone say, 'Jeez, who owns that place?' My neighbor said, 'Bob Kuechenberg of the Dolphins,' and the other guy said, 'Football players make that much money?' My neighbor said, 'Oh, he married a rich wife.' "
Not rich, but awfully talented. Marilyn Nix, Kuechenberg's second wife, is an actress who has played bit parts in Equity Showcase theaters and done a lot of commercials and TV work around L.A. They met in a restaurant called Busch's, north of Delray Beach, Fla. in 1975. He was wearing a T shirt. William Bendix? Marlon Brando? She said her second love was set designing, interior decorating. He was no dope. He had a B.A. in economics from Notre Dame and real-estate licenses in California and Florida, and he saw a future in fixing up houses and selling them. See that, we have something in common after all.
In 1976 they began the giddy house-to-house spiral that would end up at 46 Star Island. "When we bought this house," Kuechenberg says, "a guy two doors down who was a builder said, 'Bulldoze it. The place is too far gone. It's not do-able.' We didn't listen. We've been working for three years, and it's still not completely finished. Every wall had to be ripped out and the studs replaced. The termites even ate the oak floors. The ceiling—all that inlay work—it took eight months with six men working on it. Each little square had to be supported by copper wire and copper toggle bolts.
"There had been half a dozen owners since Colonel Ned died in 1936. The guy who really tried to ruin it was the one who put up shiny foil wallpaper with hot-pink flowers, junk like that."
The Kuechenbergs renovated everything. For two years they had their own artist, a student from Pratt Institute in New York, painting murals for the balcony overlooking the living room, which is on the scale of a grand ballroom. They laid 12,000 square feet of tile on the patio and around the swimming pool.