Boca Raton, Florida, Stati Uniti
Hitchcock Estate or Daheim, 276 Hitchcock Ln, Millbrook, NY 12545, USA
Wee Burn Country Club, 410 Hollow Tree Ridge Rd, Darien, CT 06820, USA
Riverside Baptist Church, 2650 Park St, Jacksonville, FL 32204, USA
Fred C. Aiken House, Old Floresta, Boca Raton, Florida, USA
Memorial Fountain Plaza, 360 S County Rd, Palm Beach, FL 33480, USA
The Everglades Club, 356 Worth Ave, Palm Beach, FL 33480, USA
La Bellucia, 1200 S Ocean Blvd, Palm Beach, FL 33480, USA
Casa Nana, 780 S Ocean Blvd, Palm Beach, FL 33480, USA
El Solano, 720 S Ocean Blvd, Palm Beach, FL 33480, USA
Villa Mizner, Via Mizner, Palm Beach, FL 33480, USA
Villa del Sarmiento, 150 S Ocean Blvd, Palm Beach, FL 33480, USA
Warden House, 112 Seminole Ave, Palm Beach, FL 33480, USA
Villa Flora, 110 Dunbar Rd, Palm Beach, FL 33480, USA
Costa Bella, 111 Dunbar Rd, Palm Beach, FL 33480, USA
La Querida, 1095 N Ocean Blvd, Palm Beach, FL 33480, USA
Dempsey House, 100 S Osborne Ave, Margate City, NJ 08402, USA
Cypress Lawn Funeral Home & Memorial Park, 1370 El Camino Real, Colma, CA 94014, Stati Uniti
Addison Cairns Mizner (December 12, 1872 – February 5, 1933) was an American resort architect whose Mediterranean Revival and Spanish Colonial Revival style interpretations left an indelible stamp on South Florida, where it continues to inspire architects and land developers. In the 1920s Mizner was the best-known and most-discussed living American architect. Palm Beach, Florida, which he "transformed", was his home, and most of his houses are there. He believed that architecture should also include interior and garden design, and set up Mizner Industries to have a reliable source of components. He was "an architect with a philosophy and a dream." Boca Raton, Florida, began as Mizner's project.
The ''bon vivant'' epitomized the "society architect." Rejecting other modern architects for "producing a characterless copybook effect," he sought to "make a building look traditional and as though it had fought its way from a small, unimportant structure to a great, rambling house that took centuries of different needs and ups and downs of wealth to accomplish. I sometimes start a house with a Romanesque corner, pretend that it has fallen into disrepair and been added to in the Gothic spirit, when suddenly the great wealth of the New World has poured in and the owner had added a very rich Renaissance addition." Or as he described his own never-built castle, drawings of which were part of his promotional literature, it would be "a Spanish fortress of the twelfth century captured from its owner by a stronger enemy who, after taking it, adds on one wing and another, and then loses it in turn to another who builds to suit his taste." As these quotes suggest, many Mizner buildings contain styles from more than one period, but all foreign.
Born in Benicia, California, he traveled as a child with his father, Lansing B. Mizner, a lawyer, former President of the California Senate and the U. S. Minister to Central America, based in Guatemala. As a young man, he visited China in 1893, was briefly a gold miner in the Yukon (1898–99) (Canada, not Alaska).  He kept as pets a series of monkeys, which often rode on his shoulder; his favorite had a headstone at his grave, identifying him as "Johnnie Brown, The Human Monkey, Died April 30, 1927." He had a macaw parrot. He was "a character."
In 1932 Mizner published ''The Many Mizners'', an autobiography covering his youth, year mining, and time in New York until the death of his mother. A second volume telling of his work in Florida was begun but never completed; the Palm Beach Historical Society has the typed manuscript. Mizner died in 1933 of a heart attack in Palm Beach and is buried in the family vault at Cypress Lawn Memorial Park.
Memorial Park, Palm Beach
Town Hall, Palm Beach, FL
According to Donald Curl, author of ''Mizner's Florida'', "He was just completely outgoing and basically a really good guy. One of the things he was noted for was the kindness toward the people who worked for him and the courtesy he showed them. Some of the other architects of this era were almost the reverse; they saw the other architects as their employees, and they should have nothing to do with the design other than putting it on paper. Mizner was not that way. When the bust began in Florida, he actually helped some of the young architects get established elsewhere."
The vast majority of Mizner's developed a deep affection for and allegiance to him.
Addison accompanied his father when the latter travelled to Guatemala in August 1889 to take up his duties there. His first stop, aged 15, on the boat to Guatemala was Mazatlán, Mexico. This was Addison’s first direct contact with the Hispanic world, which he described as “the greatest day of my life.” His father spoke fluent Spanish and Addison, who became fluent, began his study of Spanish at the Instituto Nacional in Guatemala City. He remained there for a year, visiting Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Honduras with his father, before returning to California in 1890 to study at the Bates School, a boarding school in San Rafael, California. His studies there ended in 1891 because of his brother Winston’s expulsion for misbehavior. He continued his studies briefly at Boone’s College in Berkeley, California, with the hope of passing the entrance examination for the University of California (today the University of California, Berkeley). Either he never presented himself for the examination, or he failed it. In any event, that was the end of his formal education.
In his own words: "I have based my design largely on the old architecture of Spain — with important modifications and to meet Florida conditions. I studied the architecture of Spain itself and drew somewhat on my knowledge of Spanish tropical America."
In one of his advertisements:"Spanish Art in Boca Raton homes adds a special charm to these dwellings, in a land of tropical beauty where the softness of the South makes life easy." He also assembled an excellent library, which has survived, on Spanish and Spanish Colonial architecture.
The first idea of Mizner about his first Florida building, today the Everglades Club, was that it should contain "a Moorish tower", a clear reference to the Alhambra, which Mizner visited and commented on. The Mediterranean Revival style Mizner introduced to South Florida was not Turkish, not Italian, it was Spanish, specifically the hottest, southern part of Spain, Andalucía; colonial Guatemala was similar. He taught workmen to make Spanish red roof tiles, appropriate for the climate. A scholar states that Meisner’s mature style was "founded upon the architecture of sixteenth and seventeenth-century Spain," although the Alhambra is older and Guatemala was primarily the workmanlike eighteenth- and nineteenth-century southern architecture of Spain. Like a colonial Spanish architect would have, he worked without paper plans.
Many of Mizner's projects have Spanish names: El Mirasol, El Solano, La Ronda (discussed below), and others. In his never-realized plan for Boca Raton, between today's Palmetto Park Road and Hillsboro St., the main street, Camino Real, has a Spanish name, though, in another of his fanciful stories, he claimed it was inspired by Rio de Janeiro's Botafogo neighborhood (1925 brochure). (What Mizner's commissioned painting on the cover of his first catalog does resemble in Rio de Janeiro, is the Canal do Mangue, which runs down the middle of two streets, but is nowhere near Botafogo, which he have mentioned because it is a more elegant name ("Mouth of Fire") than Mangue "mangrove". ) Streets east of the future Seaboard Coast Line Railroad line (where an "Addison Station" was to be constructed) had Spanish personal names: Ponce de Leon, Gonzalo, Juan, Isabel, Hernando, as well as Montazuma [sic], and Noche Triste. To the west they were to have the names of small Spanish cities: Tarragona, Cordoba, Toledo, Alicante), Burgos, Palencia, Lucena, the palace/monastery Escorial, and even small towns: Monreal (name of several towns), Munera. The different types of pottery produced by Mizner Industries each had the name of a Spanish city.
Fred C. Aiken House, Old Floresta, Boca Raton
In 1903 Mizner provided illustrations for ''The Limerick Up to Date Book'' of Ethel Watts Mumford (San Francisco: Paul Elder). It says something about Mizner that he would illustrate this poem:
"There was a young person of Tottenhem,
Whose manners, Good Lord! she'd forgotten them.
When she went to the vicar's,
She took off her knickers
Because she said she was hot in them."
In 1902, with Oliver Herford and Ethel Watts Mumford, he published an annual illustrated ''The Complete Cynic. Being Bunches of Wisdom Culled from the Calendars of Oliver Herford, Ethel Watts Mumford, Addison Mizner''.
"The Cynic's Calendar of Revised Wisdom for 1903
''The Cynic's Calendar of Revised Wisdom for 1904
''The Entirely New Cynic's Calendar of Revised Wisdom for 1905
''The Complete Cynic's Calendar of Revised Wisdom for 1906
''The Altogether New Cynic's Calendar of Revised Wisdom for 1907
''The Quite New Cynic's Calendar of Revised Wisdom for 1908
''The Perfectly Good Cynic's Calendar'' (1908)
''The Complete Cynic'' (1910)
''The Revived Cynic's Calendar'' (1917)
This produced such gems as: "A woman's mind is cleaner than a man's. She changes it more often" and "Many are called but few get up.”
Mizner was a storyteller but not a reliable one. He made up stories, all set in foreign countries and thus in practice unverifiable. As he told it in a totally fictitious tale, he laid out the town of Dawson Creek, British Columbia, and with no tape measure. He told a story about how, in 1892, [[:es:Argelia Benton de Reina|Argelia Benton]], the American wife of Guatemalan dictator [[:es:José María Rufino Barrios]], invited him to build a new palace for her in Guatemala City. He was to receive a retainer of $25,000 in gold, but Barrios was assassinated before Mizner received any of the money. Mizner’s dramatic story is not supported by the chronology: her residence/palace, Villa Argelia, already existed in 1892, and Barrios was assassinated in 1898.
Much later, Addison said several times that he enrolled "at some point during this time" in the University of Salamanca, in Spain, though the only known detail about his studies there is that he did not receive a degree. There is no confirmation that he ever studied there (and Salamanca would be an unlikely choice for a foreign student). A similar unlikely story is that the Spanish king, Alfonso XIII, came to his hotel and insisted on seeing him, and gave him paneling from "the private apartments of [fifteenth-century] King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain in Salamanca" (there were no such apartments in Salamanca). He also said that the entry to the Cloister Inn was through "a large Romanesque arch reminiscent of the entrance gate of the University of Salamanca"; there is no Romanesque architecture in Salamanca. (The Cloister Inn had a "Salamanca Room.")
Mizner told this kind of story to his clients: in Playa Riente, its "ceiling was from the Chapter House in Toledo, Spain, and the tracery of the doors and windows from the Casa Lonja at Valencia." He never showed photographs or prints in books of the buildings he was allegedly imitating.
A similar Hispanic tale told several times by Mizner is that his administration buildings (in 2017 the [https://theaddisonofbocaraton.com/the-addison-overview/ Addison Restaurant]) was based on the house of the Spanish painter El Greco, in Toledo, Spain. As Mizner surely knew, El Greco’s house was long vanished, little is known of it, and the house/museum of El Greco in Toledo, recently constructed and opened in Mizner’s day (1911), made no pretense to even be in the same location as the original house. Meisner did not follow the somber architectural style of Castile, where Toledo was, and a similarity between the two buildings is hard to see. Similarly, he made up the connection between the tower of the Cloister Inn, which is vaguely Spanish, with the Giralda tower of the Cathedral of Seville. The San Francisco Ferry Building (1892) — one of Polk's projects — does have a tower that clearly resembles the Seville tower. Two contemporaneous buildings in south Florida also contain towers based on the Giralda: the Freedom Tower (Miami) (1925) and the Miami Biltmore Hotel (1926), both products of the architectural firm Schultze and Weaver, who in 1927 built the Boca Raton Club that Mizner could not.
(The feature of the Everglades Club that ''is'' linked to the Giralda is the Patio of Oranges: that is the garden of the Cathedral/former great mosque of Seville, where the Giralda is.)
Similarly, he said that he traveled with his father to San José, Costa Rica by river, which is impossible: San José is not even close to a navigable river. He embellished it further by adding that they had missed a steamer and had to travel by dugout canoe; there have never been dugout canoes in Costa Rica. He said that he based a dining hall, with multiple wash stations, on a "hospital" in Vic, Spain; there is no such building in Vic. He also made up a prize fight in Australia; he had a lifelong leg injury and could not possibly box. One wonders what to make of his claim that he was "as good a bricklayer as any man I ever had. I can plaster as well as any plasterer I have seen. I am a fairly good carpenter, a better than ordinary electrician. I know how to wipe a joint in plumbing." Similarly, "I had to go into the nursery business and build a tree-moving machine. What fun it was teaching men how to stucco, teaching others how to cure pip in chickens, clearing jungles, killing land crabs, catching alligators. It was all like a game."
He returned to Guatemala for a few months in 1904. His original plan, never implemented, was to buy coffee to sell in the U.S. (This turned later into a non-existant coffee plantation that he bought. ) Instead, realizing how many antiquities were available for modest amounts, especially in Guatemala’s abandoned former capital Antigua, he began collecting Hispanic antiquities. He purchased an old monastery - the whole building. "The reason I wanted it was that eight of the side chapels of the church were intact and in each stood, thirty feet high, carved wood altars with heavy gilding." He also returned with a book of sketches of the architectural features of Antigua. This was a turning pount in his decision to become an architect.
Moving to New York in 1904, he filled his apartment with his Guatemala purchases: rich velvet and damask vestments, ornate carved church paneling, reliquaries, gilded candlesticks, and other rare ornaments. He made "good money" selling them to visitors.
In 1905, Mizner visited Spain for the first time; after that, he visited Europe every year. After relocating to Florida, these trips occurred during the "off" season. In 1924, Mizner went on a buying trip to Spain, scouring antique shops, buying "furiously" thousands of items: wrought iron, tapestries, furniture, grillwork, and whole staircases. He visited Madrid, Ávila, Burgos, Salamanca, Seville, and Granada. He was accompanied by one of his clients, Eleanor Cosden, who is reported to have recalled "the guide in the church in Toledo who, Addison pointed out, got several things wrong," and that "he even straightened out our host, the Duke of Alba!" (The Duke of Alba, one of the richest men in Spain, visited Palm Beach in 1926.) In 1926 he went on a similar trip, cut short by the financial crisis.
Mizner has been described as “an early influential gay man in South Florida,” “the gay father of South Florida architecture.” He is portrayed as openly gay in the Stephen Sondheim — John Weidman musical ''Road Show''. Mizner described himself as a “lifelong bachelor,” after “a few unsuccessful relationships with women in California and New York.” One modern researcher says that "Wilson loved women sexually; Addison cherished their friendship and companionship." Although at that period he could not be open, his biographer Caroline Seebohm said “his mature sexual taste was for very young men,” “pretty boys with pretensions,” and had “a series of young boys in tow” during his later years. One of these "young and handsome" men was Alex Waugh, who accompanied Mizner on buying trips and ended up manager of the antiques and reproduction furniture store for Mizner Indistries. Another was Horace Chase, his “wild, thoroughly-likeable" nephew, for two years the manager of the “virtually inoperable pottery factory, 'Las Manos' ['The Hands']," which he bought from Paris Singer.
Little is known about Addison Mizner's sketches and artwork prior to his architectural career; he did brag in 1893 of having sold six pictures for $150. His subsequent work shows him to be a fine draftsman and an artist who painted beautiful watercolors.
Although he lacked formal university training, Mizner served a 3-year apprenticeship (1894-1897) in the office of San Francisco architect Willis Jefferson Polk, eventually becoming a partner. Polk was only five years older than Addison and was not committed to any architectural style. "His [Mizner's] architectural training rivaled that of many in the profession of his day."
In 1904 he relocated to New York City, and then to nearby Port Washington, Long Island. During his first five years in New York, Mizner never built a house. The commissions he did receive were for interior design, which in two cases were the interior of yachts, and in designing gardens. Eventually he designed numerous country houses across Long Island and the region. In 1907, he and William Massarene designed White Pine Camp, a retreat in the Adirondack Mountains, later used by U. S. President Calvin Coolidge as his "Summer White House".
In January 1918, aged 46, Mizner visited Palm Beach, Florida for his health, at the suggestion of Paris Singer, whose house guest he was. He was "prepared to die", but instead recovered. He decided to stay. The existing architecture in Palm Beach was wooden — Flagler's two hotels, the Royal Poinciana and The Breakers (burned 1925), were wooden — and in a style better suited for colder weather, Mizner tells us. Familiar from Guatemala with Hispanic warm climate architecture, he chose it as a style more appropriate for South Florida. His Mediterranean Revival designs won the attention and patronage of wealthy clients, who preferred to build their own individual ocean-front mansions. Constructed of stone, tile, and stucco, his buildings were better suited to Florida's semi-tropical climate (and threat of hurricanes) than the wooden shingle-style resort architecture imported from the Northeast. As a result of Mizner, "Palm Beach was transformed." Mizner "designed with the wealthy in mind"; people "began building private residences on a grand scale." As a result in large part of Mizner, "by 1925 Palm Beach had established itself as ''the'' resort community of the United States."
Mizner’s concept of architect was that he did not just design a building, but also its interior decoration and gardens.
His houses were generally one room deep to allow cross ventilation, with kitchens located in wings to keep their heat away from living areas. Kitchens were also located downwind of the dining area. They were built with courtyards on various levels, replete with arcades and lofty galleries; rooms featured exposed rafters and vaulted ceilings; tiled pools and mosaics were said to resemble those of Pompeii (if that is not another of Mizner's exaggerations). Other characteristic features included loggias, colonnades, clusters of columns supporting arches, French doors, casement windows, barrel tile roofs, hearths, grand stairways and decorative ironwork.
Mizner's first big commission, and the project that made him famous, was the Everglades Club, which opened in January, 1919. It was a "revelation" and its architectural impact "cannot be exaggerated." Another scholar says that Mizner "revolutionized Palm Beach architecture". No one had seen anything like it: a "gorgeous pink stucco palace, with arcades, wrought-iron balconies, and terra-cotta-tile roofs." There were two four-hundred-year-old doors, and chairs of the same antiquity. Hispanic tiles were everywhere. "It took the place by storm", said Singer years later. An even larger project, the 147-room mansion El Mirasol (demolished), followed in 1919. Mizner received many subsequent commissions, in what was the most successful part of his career. From 1919 to 1924 he designed about thirty-eight houses in Palm Beach. His clients were wealthy and socially prominent: Gurnee Munn, John Shaffer Phipps, Barclay Harding Warburton II, Anthony Joseph Drexel Biddle Jr., Edward Shearson, Rodman Wanamaker, Paul Moore Sr., and Eva Stotesbury among them. For them, he created "a Mediterranean village".
To make materials for the Everglades Club, he and Paris Singer purchased a small facility and began the manufacture of roof and floor tiles, with a sideline production of ironwork and furniture. The factory also made pottery; Mizner viewed pottery as something that "could be effectively used to integrate an indoor and outdoor color scheme." The factory was called "Las Manos" ("The Hands"), referring to the way products were made there.
After the Club was completed in 1919, Singer sold Mizner his interest in the factory, which prospered. In West Palm Beach, "just east of the railroad," by 1925 Mizner Industries Incorporated was making, according to its catalog, "pottery, roof and floor tile, period furniture, wicker, upholstering, repairing, antique millwork and hardware, bronze sash, wrought iron, stained and leaded glass windows, reconstructed and ornamental stone, and imitation marble." It was one of the largest manufacturing companies in Palm Beach County. Mizner lacked the talent for making conventional plans and specifications. Everything was done off-the-cuff. Plans for one house were drawn in the sand on the beach; a window in another wa) FIX
He was a pioneer in developing artificial or cast stone, a combination of coquina shell, lime, and a cement mixture. He also used "woodite", a composite material with a wood component, which could be poured and molded. As a result, Mizner Industries sold "precast plastering", highly ornate plaster coffered ceilings and mouldings, and with woodite, besides antique-style doors, the paneling of a complete room, all at a relatively low cost. "One of the major difficulties in identifying Mizner buildings is the presence of Mizner Industries stonework on non-Mizner buildings"; a number of buildings he did not build are frequently misattributed to him.
Mizner Industries, copying imported antiques or photographs, manufactured beds, tables, taborets, chests, dressing tables, wardrobes, "all pieces of furniture imaginable." There were two qualities: "a superior, handcrafted line...extremely difficult to distinguish from authentic Spanish antiques," and another "good, sturdy line with little or no hand attention."
Mizner was anything but a follower of styles. He would ''ad lib'' a building’s design as he went; he was someone who "would take a lot of liberties", who "let his imagination run riot". In the end, Mizner would create a pink-walled, red-tiled, wrought iron-gated world of unreal luxury. Developers loved the Mizner style because it gave their brand-new developments an air of established, Old World elegance. It was imitated in new developments up and down the Florida peninsula. "It is style," said Donald Curl. "As an architect, he introduced Mediterranean revival, or Spanish revival, or whatever you wanted to call it. He made it not only popular but fashionable. Mizner was someone who was willing to take a lot of liberties and design buildings that were good for the climate and the lifestyle of the people who were his clients." "I never begin to design a home without first imagining some sort of romance about it. Once I have my story, then the plans take place easily."
Mizner created a version of Spanish style that was appropriate to twentieth-century Florida. "The loggia room has survived as the Florida room. The changing room is now an essential. The focal point, now swimming pool with bridge or hanging basket chair, creates the necessary element of excitement. Native building materials are touted. Red tile remains a precious commodity. Pastel colors prevail. Meandering streets with boutiques are today's key to a successful commercial adventure. The advantages of mixed residential and commercial use have become obvious."
To get the all-important appearance of antiquity Mizner inflicted vandalism. He deliberately smudged up new rooms with burning pots of tarpaper, took penknife to woodwork and statuary, chipped tiles, used acid to rust the iron, made wormholes with an icepick, cracked a mantle with a sledgehammer, all creating what he called "the kiss of the centuries." He hired inexperienced help to lay roof tiles awry, and once had men in hobnailed boots walk up and down a stairway before the cement set to get the effect of centuries of wear. One of his original contributions to architecture was the discovery that worm-eaten cypress gave the desired effect of age; thus pesky Cyprus, formerly considered almost worthless, suddenly became the mahogany of Palm Beach.
In 1925 Addison Mizner embarked on his most ambitious project, what he called his "culminating achievement": rp|34 the creation of a fabulous resort at Boca Raton. He claimed that it would offer more than Palm Beach, and was "undoubtedly the most tremendous land development project ever launched in the state of Florida." He began by forming the Mizner Development Corporation, a syndicate of prominent investors including Rodman Wanamaker, Paris Singer, Irving Berlin, William Kissam Vanderbilt II, Elizabeth Arden, Jesse Livermore, Clarence H. Geist, and T. Coleman du Pont as chairman. In March the corporation quietly bought up 2 miles of ocean front property with an overall total of over sixteen hundred acres. On April 15, 1925, the syndicate announced this large development, labeled the "Venice of the Atlantic", which would feature a thousand-room hotel, two golf courses, a polo field, parks, and miles of paved and landscaped streets which included a 160 feet grand boulevard called Camino Real. In an address before 100 salespeople, the architect declared:
"It is my plan to create a city that is direct and simple... To leave out all that is ugly, to eliminate the unnecessary, and to give Florida and the nation a resort city as perfect as study and ideals can make it."
On the first day of selling lots, May 14, 1925, $2 million was sold with a further $2 million within the first month. There was a traffic jam in front of his Miami office. By the end of October over $25 million in lots had been sold (though in most cases not paid for). Seeing that the large hotel would take a long time to build, Mizner immediately began work on a 100-room smaller hotel, the Ritz-Carlton Cloister Inn (now, much enlarged, called the Boca Raton Resort & Club). It was constructed in late 1925 and opened in early 1926, at a cost of $1,750,000.
Where Mizner was not strong was in planning. He built houses "off the cuff", without plans. He also had no financial plan, and tried to handle finance off the cuff as well. But the facilities he had announced — three golf courses, a polo ground, a theater, a large church, and an airport, to start with — were going to require a lot of money to build. Mizner did not have it, and he did not have a plan for getting it, or as a writer put it, his "extravagant imagination outstripped his budget and the market." What he had were a lot of high society contacts, fame, and a track record building houses for the wealthy in Palm Beach.
When he set up Mizner Development Corporation in 1925, he was able to assemble a fantastic board of famous people and investors. This was a prime reason why initial sales were spectacular. A 1925 advertisement reassures purchasers ("doubters") that Florida property is "gold", and that they are getting a bargain, buying early. Another, that "an investment in Boca Raton soil [sic] is an anticipation of potential profit," and "every promise of the Mizner Development Corporation is meant to be kept." His advertisements said to attach the ad to the sales contract, as a part of it. But the cash flow was not even close to sufficient to build his promised facilities. Some of the directors, whose attorneys warned them of potential liability, since their names were being used in advertisements, resigned. DuPont resigned as chairman of the board in November 1925, "a nasty split." A statement from du Pont's resignation was reported in the ''New York Times''. Three other directors and a member of the Finance Committee resigned within days, making a public statement that the Corporation should not be using their names since they had little control over the company, which did not have "reasonable and competent management." The Ritz-Carlton Cloister Inn opened on February 6, 1926, and Mizner had an elegant dinner for 500 guests, after rush ordering 906 dozen plates, cups, and other items. Over the winter season an additional $6 million trickled in, but sales came to a halt in the spring, and previous purchasers were not all making payments. By May 1926 unpaid contractors were beginning legal action against the company, forcing it into receivership. This led to Mizner's losing control of the corporation in July 1926 and to bankruptcy in September. This was the beginning of the end of Meisner's career as an architect.
The bankruptcy was resolved a year later in November 1927, when Clarence Geist bought the Company's assets. As well as the Cloister Inn, the corporation had built two Administration Buildings, a radio station, WFLA, and twenty-nine homes. Geist, a utilities executive, saw to it that Boca got a fine water plant; Mizner was unconcerned about such infrastructure.
Many people lost money through their investments in Boca Raton lots through Mizner. After bankruptcy proceedings, creditors received 0.1%, on the dollar; for example, the Andrews Asphalt and Paving Company received $93.36 of its $93,362 claim, and Riddle Engineering Company received $30.76 of its bill of $30,764. The Palm Beach Savings Bank, which had lent Mizner Development over 70% of its capital (the stockholders of Mizner were also officers of the bank), closed permanently in June, 1926, because of the Mizner bankruptcy. After the bankuptcy, when credit typically improves, Mizner borrowed:
Nothing was ever repaid of the last three loans. Mizner himself was hurt financially. He was not noted for his business acumen, and a recent biographer qualifies him as "naïve" and "in denial", but with no intention to defraud. No one has ever described Mizner as greedy or motivated by prospects of financial gain. Members of his board, it was learned after banking records were unsealed over sixty years later, were engaged in criminal embezzlement through their partnership in the Palm Beach Savings Bank. Mizner knew nothing of this and would have been horrified if he had learned of it.
Mizner Industries was declared bankrupt four months after Mizner's death in 1933. Among other things, the company stopped paying federal tax and county property tax after 1928. The company emerged from the bankruptcy reorganization and continued operations.
In 1927 Mizner built a house for John R. Bradley called Casa Serena in Colorado Springs. Several of Mizner's friends got together in 1928 to publish a folio monograph of his work. It was entitled ''Florida Architecture of Addison Mizner'' and featured 185 photographs of homes. Paris Singer contributed an introduction and Ida M. Tarbell wrote the text. After 1928 Mizner received several commissions but they came to a stop with the beginning of the world depression.
The one exception was the extensive Dieterich estate, 'Casa Bienvenida' (House of Welcome), on Park Lane in Montecito near Santa Barbara, California. He designed and directed its creation from 1929 to 1930. The significant new Mediterranean Revival estate's budget was unhindered by the Wall Street crash of 1929. The naturalistic landscape and formal gardens were designed by atmospheric painter and landscape designer Lockwood de Forest Jr. (1850–1932). His water channels are replicas of those at Villa Lante at Bagnaia, near Viterbo in the Italian Tuscany region. Mizner integrated the principal indoor and outdoor rooms by a cloistered arcade with slender columns on three sides of a large courtyard. He linked that to the inclined axis with a pavilion in the form of a Palladian arch on a terraced stone pedestal at the vista terminus. Casa Bienvenida is extant and well maintained to the present day. "The Spanish revival style here draws its forms and elements from medieval sources. Mizner used many high art details not generally found in this area....while maintaining the Santa Barbara characteristic of pure design."
Mizner's buildings were typically dismissed by Modernist critics for their eclectic historicist aesthetic. Many were torn down and redeveloped, but a number of those that survive are now on the National Register.
Architects and contractors alike copied Mizner's iteration of Spanish colonial architecture.
The Mizner name lives on. In the Boca Raton area, his name is frequently found on streets, businesses, developments. On the grounds of the Boca Raton Resort and Club is Mizner Lake Estates, an intimate 15-estate gated enclave of million dollar homes with 24-hour security. In Delray Beach can be found Addison Reserve Country Club, a golf and tennis community of 717 luxury single-family homes. It consists of nineteen villages with names such as "Mirasol" and "Playa Rienta". Also in Boca Raton is Mizner Park, an upscale “lifestyle center” with shops, rental apartments, and offices. In March 2005, to commemorate his visionary contributions to both the city and Florida architecture, a statue of the architect by Colombian sculptor Cristobal Gaviria was erected in Boca Raton at Mizner Boulevard and U.S. 1. In addition, Addison Mizner Elementary School in Boca Raton was named for him in 1968.
He was the brother and sometime partner of businessman, raconteur and playwright Wilson Mizner. The brothers' series of picaresque misadventures were the inspiration for Stephen Sondheim's musical ''Road Show'' (2008) (also titled ''Bounce'' and ''Gold!''), which was also produced in Chicago and London. Previously, in 1952, Addison's friend Irving Berlin wrote a musical called ''Palm Beach'' which never got produced. It featured Addison, his friends, and his clients. In 1951 Theodore Pratt wrote a novel, ''The Big Bubble'', which is a thinly veiled biography of Mizner. In 2014 Richard René Silvin published his book ''Villa Mizner: The House that Changed Palm Beach'', chronicling the life of Addison Mizner though a story about Mizner's own home on Worth Avenue and Via Mizner, Palm Beach: Villa Mizner.
My published books:
BACK TO HOME PAGE