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Addison Mizner, Resort Architect

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Born:

1872 in Benicia, California

Died:

1933

Education:

No formal training in architecture

Important Buildings:

  • 1922: William Gray Warden Residence, 112 Seminole Ave., Palm Beach, Florida
  • 1923: Via Mizner, 337-339 Worth Ave., Palm Beach, Florida
  • 1925: Administration Buildings, 2 Camino Real, Boca Raton.
  • 1925: Boynton Woman's Club, 1010 S. Federal Highway, Boynton Beach
  • 1926: Fred C. Aiken House, 801 Hibiscus St., Boca Raton

About Addison Mizner:

Addison Mizner did not have formal training. He could not draw blueprints. Yet his fanciful Mediterranean style architecture launched a "Florida Renaissance" and inspired architects throughout North America.

As a child, Mizner traveled around the world with his father, who was the U.S. minister to Guatemala. Mizner began his architectural career in San Francisco, and later worked in New York. When he was 46, Mizner moved to Palm Beach for his health, and his Spanish Revival architecture won the attention of wealthy clients.

Addison Mizner wanted to capture the diversity of Spanish architecture. Criticizing modern architects for "producing a characterless copybook effect," Mizner said that his ambition was to "make a building look traditional and as though it had fought its way from a small unimportant structure to a great rambling house."

When Mizner moved to Florida, Boca Raton was a tiny, unincorporated town. Mizner aspired to transform it into a luxurious restort community. In 1925, he started Mizner Development Corporation and purchased more than 1,500 acres, including two miles of beach. He mailed out out promotional material that boasted a 1,000-room hotel, golf courses, parks and a street wide enough to fit 20 lanes of traffic. Stockholders included such high-rollers as Paris Singer, Irving Berlin, Elizabeth Arden, W.K. Vanderbilt II and T. Coleman du Pont. Film star Marie Dressler sold real estate for Mizner.

Other developers followed Mizner's example, and eventually Boca Raton became all that he envisioned. However, within two years, he was bankrupt. In 1933, he died at 61 of a heart attack.

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