Monday, February 22, 2016

Design Providence: Horace Trumbauer – Alfred Browning Parker – Addison Mizner

Temple Beth El, Fread Sanctuary. 1976. The sanctuary was underwritten by Palm Beacher Robert D. Rapaport who worked with the architect on the design. Rapaport named it Fread Sanctuary after his mother's family. The daughter of Mollie and Abraham Fread, Stella Fread Rapaport Fuld (1910-2009) was a noted children's book author and award-winning illustrator.
Design Providence: Horace Trumbauer – Alfred Browning Parker – Addison Mizner
By Augustus Mayhew


However fortunate South Florida has been in attracting renowned architects, the area's inherent transient predisposition prevents it from holding on to much of what these design visionaries created that made Palm Beach to Miami such an attractive destination. More than fifteen years ago I was the only person at a West Palm Beach City Commission meeting who spoke in favor of the historic designation of Horace Trumbauer's First Church of Christ, Science.

Today, Trumbauer's work remains the most significant architectural landmark in West Palm Beach, still awaiting the recognition it deserves even as so many continue to look the other way. Ten years ago, I attended Alfred Browning Parker's 90th birthday celebration at the University of Florida in recognition of his lifetime of incomparable architectural achievements. Two years later, the Town of Palm Beach approved the demolition of Allen and Adele Manus' house at 144 Wells Road, one of Parker's Modernist masterpieces. And as much as Addison Mizner's legacy is widely admired, many of his works have been supplanted by subdivisions and condominiums. Too many years ago, I curated a traveling museum exhibit, Addison Mizner Inc., showcasing the Historical Society of Palm Beach County's vast collection of Miznerabilia including original photographs by Mizner's own photographer Lawrence Dame of the creations manufactured by the various Mizner factories.

On January 23, Leslie Hindman Auctioneers will offer on the block to the highest bidder furniture and memorabilia from La Querida, the Wanamaker-Kennedy house, that was a treasure trove of Mizner Industries-produced tables, chairs, lanterns, and the like. Much like the Lily Pulitzer auction, I expect there will be as many bidders online from around the planet as there will be crowded into the auction floor.
Nightfall at First Church of Christ, Scientist. Horace Trumbauer, architect. 1928. Façade and north elevation.
While Palm Beach is ministered by several houses of worship located on the island, there are two sacred spaces situated along West Palm Beach's Flagler Drive considered as equally significant in the resort's cultural and architectural history. However disparate and distant architect Horace Trumbauer's classical expression for the First Church of Christ, Scientist, (1928) may appear when considered alongside Alfred Browning Parker's spirited Modernism at Temple Beth-El (1976), both the church and the synagogue are quintessential paradigms for their individual era's progressive sensibility. Neoclassical-styled Christian Science churches were inspired by the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition's sense of order. Greco-Roman temples shaped by the confluence of mathematics, geometry and engineering were utilized as the church's building models, perceived as harmonious with their religious ideals expressed in their practice of "primitive Christianity." The application of Christian Science's spiritual principles resulted in church buildings similar to civic buildings. courthouses and city halls.

In 1924, Temple Beth Israel was started by six Jewish families with support from Palm Beach's seasonal visitors and Col. E. R. Bradley. Within a few years, the congregation split into the Reform Temple Israel and the Conservative Temple Beth El. On January 31, Temple Beth-El celebrates its 90th Anniversary. Known as the area's oldest synagogue, the temple chose to depart from its traditional building form during the 1970s when it selected architect Alfred Browning Parker's interpretation of Wrightian Modernism for its new synagogue. At the time, there were extraordinary Al Parker houses located on North Lake Way, Wells Road, Everglades Island and South Flagler. Today, those have been demolished, leaving only Temple Beth-El and Quail High, a house located in nearby Village of Golf, as the area's only remaining exemplars of Parker's enlightened work.

First Church of Christ, Scientist - 1928
809 South Flagler Drive – West Palm Beach
Horace Trumbauer – Architect


Situated facing Palm Beach on South Flagler Drive across from the Town Docks, the First Church of Christ, Science was first established in 1905 in downtown West Palm Beach. During that same early period, Henry Phipps and his wife Anne spent their winters at Rosewood Cottage situated on Lake Worth's west bank in proximity to the Christian Science church's present site. A decade later, Phipps bought an oceanfront parcel in Palm Beach's North End that was subdivided for family members to build winter cottages. Architect F. Burrall Hoffman designed Villa Artemis for Amy Phipps Guest, Heamaw for Henry Phipps (demolished), and reportedly, El Inca, later renamed Los Incas (demolished), for Michael Grace. Addison Mizner is credited with Casa Bendita (demolished) for John S. and Margarita Phipps.

"The lots where the church was built were purchased by Mrs. Henry C. Phipps from Adah Sanders for $20,000," said Cynthia Hammar, church historian "Mrs. Phipps then gave the lots to the church. Also, our records show that Amy Phipps Guest conveyed to the church the lot that comprised one-half the land adjacent to the church on the north side," Hammar added.
The Christian Science church was founded in 1879 by Mary Baker Eddy, author of Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.
First Church of Christ, Scientist, façade. The church's construction began the same year that the Philadelphia Museum of Art was opening its first exhibition after nine years of construction. "Amy Phipps Guest was instrumental in obtaining Horace Trumbauer as the architect. Since he designed the Philadelphia Museum of Art, with which Mrs. Guest was familiar, that is why she suggested a similar design of the museum's central temple for the church. Mrs. Guest especially admired the blue tile roof of the Museum and paid to have similar tiles from Italy used for the church building." – Cynthia Hammar.
Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1919-1928. Horace Trumbauer, architect. Photo Library of Congress.
First Church of Christ, Scientist. West elevation, palmette roof ornament & blue roof tile.
First Church of Christ, Scientist, West elevation, Roof tile and pediment detail.
Lynnewood Hall, façade. Widener residence, Elkins Park. Horace Trumbauer, architect. Library of Congress.
Whitemarsh Hall. E.T. Stotesbury residence. Horace Trumbauer, architect. Library of Congress.
South elevation, portico entrance. The Hurricane of 1928 hindered construction but the church building was damaged very little, according to Hammar.
South elevation, portico. Detail.
Auditorium, view from the balcony. The first service was held on March 19, 1929.
Auditorium, view from the balcony to the south. The Architectural Record described Philadelphia-born architect Horace Trumbauer's work as " … demure respectable local tradition … That this impersonality, accompanied by the good qualities of sobriety, accuracy and good taste, should have come out of Philadelphia, is not only a matter for astonishment, but for congratulation."
Auditorium, view from the main floor.
Auditorium, view from main floor to the balcony.
Readers podium.
The screens and balustrade cross-and-X pattern is repeated on the window grilles representing the cross and X signifying Christ.
Auditorium, interior window grille.
Reflection of window grilles on main floor seating.
Auditorium, main floor door handles.
Interior door handles, detail. Palmette pattern.
West elevation, entrance to classroom and meeting areas.
West elevation, detail. "Some members wanted the church built from limestone block which was very expensive. Our records show that Mizner Industries devised the ashlar pattern for the exterior side walls of the church. Mizner came up with a solution that mixed powdered limestone with cement to make the blocks that were used to build the church." – Cynthia Hammar.
Façade, looking south to Flagler Drive.
North elevation, window grilles.
Balcony, view to the northwest.
The balcony seats 90.
View from the balcony down to the podium.
Interior, molding detail.
Front foyer.
Auditorium, interior main floor. Marjorie Merriweather Post was among the church's seasonal congregants.
First Church of Christ, Scientist, cornerstone. Horace Trumbauer, architect. 1928.
Temple Beth-El - 1976
2815 North Flagler Drive – West Palm Beach
Alfred Browning Parker - Architect


"The design of a synagogue is an exciting experience for any architect, since there is no special building tradition. A synagogue is a house of prayer, a house of study and a house of assembly. A synagogue is a gathering place, a theatre where the audience is the players. Worship is prayer, praise and petition, study, learning, and the exposition of the law." — Alfred Browning Parker, 1976.
"Passages in the Talmud would require windows to shed light, perhaps to give people a view of God by looking at his work rather than by graven images of anything in heaven or earth. The great window is for this purpose." – Alfred Browning Parker.
Temple Beth-El, 1976. "The sanctuary was intended to project a new dynamic space into the life of the synagogue" — Alfred Browning Parker, architect. This conceptual sketch is housed at the Alfred Browning Parker Collection, University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries.
The dedication was held February 15, 1976. The sanctuary provides seating for 800.
Alfred Browning Parker designed the interiors including the Bimah, the Ark, eternal light, and the pulpit for both Rabbi and Cantor. Parker prescribed the interior elements should be composed primarily of cedar, brass and lead with simple finishes and bare walls.
The Bimah.
The Ark and Torahs.
Torahs, detail.
Temple Beth El, view from North Flagler Drive, looking northwest.
The roof's original asphalt shingles were severely damaged after hurricanes in 2004 and 2005. The shingles were covered with copper-metallic coated aluminum panels installed by Total Roofing Systems. Photo Knopf & Associates.
Sanctuary, view from the podium.
Sanctuary view toward the musician area.
Because the metal roof was placed on top of the existing shingle roof, the synagogue's interior forms were not altered.
"The Great Window."
Addison Mizner at La Querida
Wanamaker-Kennedy House (The Winter White House")
1095 North Ocean Boulevard – Palm Beach
Leslie Hindman Auctioneer – www.lesliehindman.com


Although Addison Mizner's La Querida ("The loved one") has long been associated with two of the nation's most dynastic families, the North Ocean Boulevard mansion was never designated a local landmark because of the Kennedy family's reluctance, only allowing the estate's exterior entrance wall to be designated.

Auction catalog, Leslie Hindman, Property from the Winter Whitehouse. President and Mrs. Kennedy with their children. Easter Sunday 1963, standing in front of the family's iconic walled entrance on North Ocean Boulevard. In March 1940, Jack Kennedy won second place at the Everglades Club's wheelchair race where his family had been members since the mid-1920s. Photograph by Bob Davidoff.
After owning the property for 62 years, the Kennedy family sold it for $4.9 million in 1995 to John and Marianne Castle who kept many of the original Mizner pieces supplied to the Wanamaker residence that they have now made available for sale. The Castles undertook a major renovation, agreeing to landmark status within a five year period that would also allow them to complete their renovation before designation.

Last May, the Castles sold it to an LLC reportedly linked to Jane Goldman for $31 million who has installed scaffolds surrounding the house. While Goldman is keeping much of the Treanor & Fatio elements, she is removing some of the 1995 additions.

Built in 1923 for Rodman Wanamaker II, he spent only several winters at his Palm Beach retreat before he died in 1928. His daughter Marie Louise Wanamaker was married to Gurnee Munn, ensconced further down the beach at Louwana. Munn was the principal of the Munn, Hull & Boardman real estate firm with offices at Palm Beach as well as in Boston. Gurnee Munn was Joe and Rose Kennedy's real estate agent who sold them La Querida, his father-in-law's house, in 1933.

By then, Rose and her family had been coming to Palm Beach for more than twenty years. Before the Kennedy's bought it, the house was leased. At one time, Rodman "Roddy" Wanamaker, L. Rodman's nephew, was in residence. Joe and Rose Kennedy were part of the social set at Amado, Charles and Mary Paul Munn's house adjacent to Louwana.
Leslie Hindman showroom, 1608 South Dixie Highway, West Palm Beach. With an aerial photograph of La Querida's oceanfront elevation on the far wall, the centerpiece is the Kennedy's dining room table and fourteen chairs (estimate $3,000-$5,000). Twelve of the fourteen chairs are original from Mizner Industries, similar to those the Everglades Club once utilized in the Armada dining room. To the left and the right of the photograph are hall tables from Mizner Industries.
The auction's Mizner Industry chairs are in quite good condition. The Historical Society's archives have many photographs of the "factory-made originals," as I called them in a museum exhibit.
Chair, detail. Mizner Industries.
Chairs produced by Mizner Industries are readily identifiable by their weathered appearance.
Lot 16, Jacobean-style chair. Estimate $400-$600.
Savonarola chair, Mizner Industries. Estimate $1,000-$2,000. These chairs usually have a fringed velvet seat and back or a weathered dark brown leather fitting. Called the "Honey Fitz Chai," in honor of Rose Kennedy's father James Francis Fitzgerald who first came to Palm Beach in 1910. The following season, Rose accompanied her parents to Palm Beach. According to reports, she witnessed the first airplane flight over Lake Worth in 1911. Among the founders of St. Edward Catholic Church, the Fitzgeralds were friends of Col. E. R. Bradley. When Bradley's Beach Club was momentarily shut down and E. R. and his brother John Bradley were arrested for running a gambling operation in 1916, Honey Fitz was among those who reportedly posted bail for the Bradley brothers.
Known as the Attorney General's bedroom, as children, Robert F. Kennedy and Edward Kennedy shared a bedroom. Pair of oak stools (estimate $400-$600 each), Mizner Industries.
Venetian-style walnut beds, estimate $3,000-$5,000.
Domed door, estimate $400-$600.
Italian painted hall bench, estimate $3,000-$5,000.
Pair of William and Mary-style tile-inset side tables, estimate $500-$700. The tables are from Mizner Industries.
Royal portable electric typewriter, estimate $200-$400. The trestle table is from Mizner Industries. A longstanding member of the Everglades Club, Joseph P. Kennedy was a member of the club's reorganization committee in 1947. In 1936, Joe and Jack Kennedy won the father-son tennis tournament at the Bath & tennis Club where the family was also a member.
"Polly Jessup did much of the "white work" for the Kennedys," said interior designer Anne Pepper, as in this chair and dresser from Rose Kennedy's bedroom. In October, I had missed seeing Anne in New Mexico and she popped up three months later on South Dixie Highway in West Palm Beach.
Vintage Jacques Bodart dressers, painted white.
"Polly liked using those Bodart pieces and signed lamps in bedrooms and guest rooms," added Anne Pepper who worked with Jessup before establishing her own firm. Above, "Mary Quant for Murray Feiss," similar Quants available on e-Bay for $30-$90 while this lamp has an estimated value of $100-$200.
The Kennedy family arm chairs (estimate $800-$1200). The eight-panel Coromandel screen was owned by Lady Mary Soames, the daughter of Winston Churchill, who was a friend of Rose Kennedy's.
Leslie Hindman has another Palm Beach auction ("Arm Candy") scheduled for February. LH has bureaus in Chicago, Denver, Milwaukee, Naples, and St. Louis.
Photography by Augustus Mayhew.

Augustus Mayhew is the author of Lost in Wonderland – Reflections on Palm Beach.