About Addison Mizner

Addison Mizner standing against a pillar in Florida.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Addison Mizner Designed Tile on bank building circa 1930

Original Addison Mizner designed tile on bank building circa 1930.

 

 

 

 

 

Addison Mizner – The Society Architect of Palm Beach

Addison Cairns Mizner (1872-1933) was a true ‘society architect,’ designing homes and gardens in New York and Palm Beach during the Roaring ‘20s for a discerning clientele.

At 6-foot-2 and 250 pounds, he was a bon vivant who enchanted friends and partygoers with his tall tales of travels and adventure, often told with one of his pet monkeys perched on his shoulder.

An Eye for Spanish Style

Mizner was the second youngest of seven children born into a prominent family in Benicia, California, in 1872. His father, Lansing, was a lawyer and diplomat who, in 1889, was appointed Envoy Extraordinary and Minister to Central America and took the family to live in Guatemala City.

The city captivated young Addison’s imagination. Its decorative Spanish architecture, with Moorish-influenced and colorful tilework, as well as wrought iron fixtures, barrel tile roofs, and ornately carved wood, would become a lifelong design inspiration.

Mizner went on to study in Spain, traveled to the Far East, Australia, and lived for a few years in Hawaii. He apprenticed as an architect in California with Willis Polk, the leader of the Spanish “mission” style of design.

Mizner grew restless and set out on an expedition to Alaska. He spent two years along the Yukon and eventually settled in New York. Mizner established an office on Park Avenue and earned the reputation as an architect for the affluent, designing gardens and Long Island summer retreats.

Mediterranean Revival Meets Palm Beach Panache

Urged by his friend Paris Singer, heir to the sewing machine fortune, Mizner visited Florida in 1918 seeking a better climate for his health.

He made Palm Beach his home and began to design projects that reflected the tropical nature of the area, drawing on inspiration from his travels in Latin America.

The buildings featured Mediterranean Revival design, crafted of stone and stucco with tile accents and courtyards and breezeways to help cool the buildings.

From his very first project, Palm Beach’s Everglades Club (originally planned as a World War I veterans’ convalescence home), Mizner’s reputation as a society architect was secure.

Constructing the club required a large quantity of materials, so he and Singer partnered to create what was eventually known as Mizner Industries, a firm that manufactured everything from floor tiles to period furniture, to help supply the many homes and commercial structures he was commissioned to design.


A Restoration Project by Mizner Tile Studio

Deteriorated tile on the front of the Wells Fargo Bank building in Palm Springs, Florida.

Deteriorated tile on the front of the Wells Fargo Bank building in Palm Springs, Florida.


Wells Fargo Bank tile work refurbished by Mizner Tile Studio.

Wells Fargo Bank tile work refurbished by Mizner Tile Studio.

 

 

 


An Enduring Legacy in Tile

After transforming Palm Beach with nearly 70 homes of his design, Mizner ventured south to Boca Raton. He and his brother Wilson formed the Mizner Development Corporation, acquiring 17,500 acres of land and setting out to build the “Greatest Resort in the World.”

The Cloister Inn opened in 1926 at a cost of $1.25 million – at the time the most expensive 100-room hotel ever built. However, it lasted only one season. Investors began withdrawing money and demanded reorganization of the company. New management was unable to save the company from bankruptcy. (The hotel is now the Boca Raton Resort & Club.)

Although Mizner was deep in debt and depressed by the failure of his dream, his career was not yet over. He designed several final homes for wealthy clients, including the 17,000 square-foot Casa Bienvenida in Montecito, CA.

He continued to live in Palm Beach – supported by financial assistance from his friends – in Villa Mizner, a lavish apartment of his own design, perched above the Via Mizner shops along Worth Avenue. He died of a heart attack in February 1933.

Learn more about Addison Mizner:

 

Books for further reading:

  • Boca Rococo: How Addison Mizner Invented Florida’s Gold Coast; Caroline Seebohm
  • Mizner’s Florida: American Resort Architecture; Donald W. Curl
  • Addison Mizner: Architect of Dreams and Realities; Norton Gallery of Art
  • Florida Architecture of Addison Mizner; Dover Publications
  • Addison Mizner, Architect to the Affluent: A Sketchbook Raisonne of His Work; William Olendorf
mizner-industries-tile-home-img-2a

An Enduring Legacy in Tile

Perhaps – with historic images of his designs.

After transforming Palm Beach with nearly 70 homes of his design, Mizner ventured south to Boca Raton. He and his brother Wilson formed the Mizner Development Corporation, acquiring 17,500 acres of land and setting out to build the “Greatest Resort in the World.”

The Cloister Inn opened in 1926 at a cost of $1.25 million – at the time the most expensive 100-room hotel ever built. However, it lasted only one season. Investors began withdrawing money and demanded reorganization of the company. New management was unable to save the company from bankruptcy. (The hotel is now the Boca Raton Resort & Club.)   

Although Mizner was deep in debt and depressed by the failure of his dream, his career was not yet over. He designed several final homes for wealthy clients, including the 17,000 square-foot Casa Bienvenida in Montecito, CA. He continued to live in Palm Beach – supported by financial assistance from his friends – in Villa Mizner, a lavish apartment of his own design, perched above the Via Mizner shops along Worth Avenue. He died of a heart attack in February 1933.

 

PHOTOS OF TILES.      PHOTOS OF TILES.       PHOTOS OF TILES.      PHOTOS OF TILES.       PHOTOS OF TILES.      PHOTOS OF TILES.