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White Elephant Palm Beach
20 Jan 2021
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White Elephant Resorts

How Addison Mizner Became the Founding Father of Mediterranean Revival Style

Addison Mizner, American resort architect, left a stamp on Palm Beach, and most of South Florida with his Mediterranean and Spanish Colonial revival style. Today, his work continues to inspire the region's architects and designers.

Mizner moved to Palm Beach in 1918 at the request of his friend Paris Singer, the sewing machine heir. Together, they conceived the Everglades Club. Originally built as a hospital during World War I (as only war-related buildings during that era could be built), it was later transformed into a social club, which still stands at the end of Worth Avenue as an architectural symbol. The design - with its Moorish tower, red roof tiles, and white stucco facade - was the biggest success of his career and ushered in a new era of architectural style for south Florida. Inspired by the Spanish-influenced designs he discovered during his travels, he reshaped the area one commission at a time. By 1925, he personified the idea of "Society Architect," having been hired by leading powerhouses - Vanderbilt, Stotesbury, Phipps, and Munn, just to name a few - to design their grandiose estates.  As a result, in large part of Mizner, Palm Beach had established itself as the resort community in the US.

Not one to fit into a mold or follow style, Mizner would ad lib a building's design as he went. Signature design elements of his work include: clusters of columns supporting arches, sheltered cloisters, French doors, casement windows, barrel tile roofs, grand stairways, decorative ironwork and floorplans that opened onto patios and terraces. Using a combination of invented and actual antique objects is what gives Mizner's houses their magic.

Today, the designer's visionary work still dominates the landscape. Visitors to the region can tour Villa Mizner, the architect's last home and see Riverside Baptist Church, listed on the National Register of Historic Places; or drive past one of his many designed estates, including Villa dei Fiori, built by the Jell-O heir and La Guerida, which was owned by the Kennedy family for more than six decades. New to the scene is the White Elephant Palm Beach. Paying homage to the famed architect's contributions, the White Elephant combines the elegance of a resort with the traditional Mizner aesthetic that continues to influence the South Florida scene.