Palm Beach Modern

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President of Palm Beach, 2505 South Ocean Boulevard. Sensational Sixties! Designed by architect Norman Robson, a pre-cast concreate and aggregate stone geometric panel complements the oscillating curvilinear port cochere at this 95-unit, six-story condominium, originally planned as an apartment-hotel. [AUGUSTUS MAYHEW]

“Less is More” is a maxim not commonly associated with today’s Palm Beach where William Blake’s “The road of excess leads to the palace of … ” might be more apropos. Nonetheless, Moderne, Mid-Century Modern and Modern architectural styles, known for their form follows function credo, could be found on North End streets, Midtown apartments, Worth Avenue buildings and South Ocean Boulevard hi-rises from the 1930s until the 1980s.

Although never garnering the curb appeal of stucco-and-barrel tile Spanish and Italian villas, Caribbean and Bermuda imports, or the spectrum of contextual spec houses, these sleek sculpted buildings ranged from the sublime Villa Today on Via Bellaria, described in 1938 as “The most original house in Palm Beach” to the International-styled 400 Building by Edward Durell Stone, a world-class building by one of the 20th-century’s most influential architects. Too often, these buildings are overlooked, if not minimized, when establishing the town’s architectural standards.

Here are some highlights and postcards from the past.

A Midwest Modern oceanfront villa in Midtown Palm Beach in 1915? Built in the Wrightian style, Villa Zila was an architectural tour-de-force, an often forgotten chapter in Palm Beach’s design history. [COURTESY HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF PALM BEACH COUNTY]


Sunrise Building, 1927. The intersection of diagonal and curvilinear contours, along with Joseph Urban’s sculptural and aesthetic creations makes this mixed-use landmark as Moderne as it is Mediterranean. Developed by Tony Biddle, Ned Hutton, Arthur Kelleher, and Leonard Replogle, the Sunrise Building was an arched complex of shops, offices and apartments designed in the Moorish-Mediterranean-Moderne style with the 1100-seat Paramount Theatre as its centerpiece. The theatre’s Creatures of the Sea mural designed by Joseph Urban was vari-colored, purple, silver, pink-red, gold, green, and blue. [AERIAL COURTESY HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF PALM BEACH COUNTY]
Villa Today, living room. Via Bellaria. 1932. Treanor & Fatio, architect. “… Something distinctly new for Palm Beach …” [COURTESY HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF PALM BEACH COUNTY]
Villa Today, west elevation. “The exterior was pure white with aluminum trim … the chaste simplicity of black and white …” [AUGUSTUS MAYHEW]
Villa Today, staircase. Treanor & Fatio, architect. “ … the glittering beauty of a mirrored stairway with a crystal balustrade …” [COURTESY HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF PALM BEACH COUNTY]
The Reef, North County Road, entrance. Treanor & Fatio, architect. In 1937 the firm was awarded a gold medal for their design in an architectural photography exhibition during the Paris Exposition Internationale. [COURTESY HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF PALM BEACH COUNTY]
The Reef, entrance. Treanor & Fatio, architect. Marjorie Oelrichs completed the interiors for Vadim and Josephine Makaroff. [COURTESY HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF PALM BEACH COUNTY]
North Ocean Way, east elevation. 1938. Murray Hoffman, architect. [AUGUSTUS MAYHEW]
Moderne style for a “Peruvian facade,” color sketch. Belford Shoumate. The Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach houses the Belford Shoumate Collection of architectural drawings. [PRESERVATION FOUNDATION OF PALM BEACH]
North Lake Way, east elevation. Built in 1937 for Clare Stecher along North Lake Way, this house, called Fore ‘N Aft for many years, was designed when the island’s North End was still a jungle. The Clarke & Wortman firm, Belford Shoumate, supervising architect, designed it in the “ultra-modern” Nautical Moderne style. Regarded as one of Shoumate’s earliest projects on Palm Beach, previously he worked in West Palm Beach, designing model modern houses for a Burnup & Sims development in the Hillcrest neighborhood. [AUGUSTUS MAYHEW]

Midtown Moderne

Coronet Apartments, South County Road. 1938. Treanor & Fatio, architect. [AUGUSTUS MAYHEW]
Located at the corner of South County Road and Brazilian Avenue, this his Streamline Moderne curvilinear building faces the Addison Mizner-designed Memorial Park. [AUGUSTUS MAYHEW]
A Royal Poinciana Way commercial building with grooved vertical bands. [AUGUSTUS MAYHEW]
South County Road, Moderne details. [AUGUSTUS MAYHEW]
One of Palm Beach’s most distinctive Streamline Moderne buildings, the Ardma Hotel was built in 1940, later known as The Plaza Inn. Shortly after this photograph was taken, the Plaza Inn was demolished. [PHOTO AUGUSTUS MAYHEW]
This nearly century-old corner building located at the intersection of Royal Poinciana Way and North County Road exemplifies the Streamline Moderne period. [AUGUSTUS MAYHEW]
Built in 1947 and designed by architect Gus Maass, the Colony Theatre, since demolished, was located on Sunrise Avenue across from the Palm Beach Hotel and built as a modernistic movie theater with air-conditioning. [PALM BEACH POST ARCHIVE]
With only the slightest addition, Out of Bounds looks today as it did in this photograph when it was designed by Treanor and Fatio in 1942. A sleek brick house that angles and curves, the loggia arcs into a sweeping turn along the waterfront in a tropical setting, originally planned by Janet Darling Webel, one of the only mid-century women landscape architects in the United States. [COURTESY HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF PALM BEACH COUNTY]
Octagon House, Hi-Mount Road. Treanor & Fatio, architect, designed this house/studio for artist Bernard Boutet de Monvel. [COURTESY HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF PALM BEACH COUNTY]
An eclectic North County Road building with Moderne, Mediterranean and Modern touches. [AUGUSTUS MAYHEW]

Worth Avenue: Moderne & Modern

Worth Avenue, 1964. Tail fins roll on the legendary Mink Mile. [COURTESY HISTORICAL SOCIETY PALM BEACH COUNTY]
Tiffany’s Worth Avenue at Hibiscus. During the early 1990s, the Smith Architectural Group, Jeffery Smith, principal, redesigned the building’s façade with coral keystone and modeled on Tiffany’s signature storefront.[AUGUSTUS MAYHEW]
Betteridge’s Deco Moderne granite façade is trimmed with silvery-white Monel, a nickel alloy resistant to corrosion. Named for Palm Beacher Ambrose Monell, Monel was used worldwide until the 1950s, when stainless steel was produced with less nickel and reduced demand for the costlier Monel. Patented in 1906, Monel is utilized worldwide for equipment and instruments. [AUGUSTUS MAYHEW]
Deco time, Betteridge/Greenleaf & Crosby. [AUGUSTUS MAYHEW]
Worth Avenue has an array of diverse Moderne and Mid-Century Modern designs. [AUGUSTUS MAYHEW]

Designed by architect John Stetson in 1952, the Riviera cooperative apartment building at 455 Worth Avenue is one of Palm Beach’s only remaining Mid-Century Modern apartment buildings that was not later demolished and replaced by a condominium. [AUGUSTUS MAYHEW]
Worth Avenue Building, 1956. First called the Armour Building, the International style was designed by John Stetson. [PALM BEACH POST ARCHIVE]
Palm Beach Pier, Worth Avenue at South Ocean Boulevard. Demolished 1960s. Built during the late 1940s in the Mid-Century Modern style, the pier offered an oceanfront restaurant and dancing atop the ocean waves beneath a moonlit sky. [COURTESY HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF PALM BEACH COUNTY]

Mid-Century Modern

North County Road. 1958. Originally one of several Comet Cleaners locations in Palm Beach County, each designed in a distinctive Mid-Century Modern design. [AUGUSTUS MAYHEW]
A flat-roofed, one-story, North End Mid-Century Modern design built in 1950 makes for the only house on this Esplanade Estates street that was sited on the diagonal. [AUGUSTUS MAYHEW].
North End. A classic brick ranch house built in 1952. [AUGUSTUS MAYHEW]
Wells Road. 1953. Owner Elsie Leviton recalls, “The house was built around my husband’s love of music. The Steinway is nearly a century old, it belonged to my family. The built-in stereo system carried music to every room of the house, a large speaker filled the fireplace, and my husband played the cello.” In the living room, family photographs and 20th-century art are mixed with an eclectic collection of mid-century modern and traditional furniture accessorized with a West African wood carving, a Castiglioni Arco stainless-steel lamp, a 1970’s Bertoia-inspired French chair, and a classic leather Eames lounge chair with ottoman. [AUGUSTUS MAYHEW]
Geodesic dome habitat, north building. Manalapan, 1968. Ames Bennett, architect. [AUGUSTUS MAYHEW]
Ibis Isle, north elevation. Architect Tim Hoffman and his wife Phyllis refashioned their waterfront home into a Taliesin South, having admired Frank Lloyd Wright’s structural and stylistic viewpoint in Arizona and his Florida Southern College campus buildings in Lakeland, Florida. [AUGUSTUS MAYHEW]
249 Peruvian Avenue. 2021. John Stetson’s office building exhibits classic Mid-Century Modern style. [AUGUSTUS MAYHEW]
Everglades Island, 1956. Described by architect Alfred Browning Parker as his 30-60-90 House, the triangular, A-frame, two-story residence featured multi-level interiors terraced for function and views. [DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE, STATE OF FLORIDA ARCHIVES, CHARLES BARRON PHOTOGRAPHER, 1956.]
Manus House, pool and entertainment areas. Wells Road, view looking northwest. 1960. Arthur Browning Parker, architect. [COURTESY MANUS FAMILY COLLECTION]
La Coquille Club, aerial. Byron Simonson, architect. Palm Beach Life, March 4, 1955. [COURTESY HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF PALM BEACH COUNTY]
La Coquille Club, port cochere entrance. Manalapan. Byron Simonson, architect. [COURTESY HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF PALM BEACH COUNTY]

Modern Regency: Palm Beach Regency/Gottfried Regency

Royal Poinciana Plaza. South building, east elevation. The north and south buildings feature matching two-story temple-front facades with upper-story horizontal and arched glass windows and molded pediments with crescent-shaped side porticos that lead into the central courtyard’s arcade. [AUGUSTUS MAYHEW]
Royal Poinciana Plaza. South building, south elevation. Two-story temple front columned portico entrance. AUGUSTUS MAYHEW]
Via Los Incas is a showcase for builder Robert Gottfried’s signature interpretation of Modern Regency, termed Gottfried Regency.
For his version of a post-WW II Modern Regency-styled residence at Regents Park, Clarence Mack implemented features John Volk applied to Royal Poinciana Plaza. [PHOTO AUGUSTUS MAYHEW]
Palm Trail Yacht Club apartments, west elevation. Delray Beach, 1960. Alfons Bach, designer. The Alfons Bach Collection is housed at the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum, New York.

Hi-Rise Palm Beach

In the beginning … The Palm Beach Ambassador apartment-hotel, 3400 South Ocean Boulevard. [COURTESY HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF PALM BEACH COUNTY]
Palm Beach Towers, promotional color sketch. 1956. [COURTESY PALM BEACH TOWERS]
L. to r.: Palm Beach Towers, view from the port cochere entrance toward the north building; Palm Beach Towers, exterior mural. [AUGUSTUS MAYHEW]
Palm Beach Towers. From the central lobby, view west toward the pool cabanas, beyond the Intracoastal Waterway and the West Palm Beach skyline. “I believe the original glass was removed after one of the storms,” remarked designer Ken Elias. [AUGUSTUS MAYHEW]

South Lake Drive

This ensemble of lakefront Modern buildings, among the most noticeable of the 15 residential buildings Howard Chilton designed in Midtown, established Chilton at the forefront of Mid-Century Modern design.

455 Australian Avenue at South Lake Drive. Howard Chilton, architect. [AUGUSTUS MAYHEW]
The Southlake, 315 South Lake Drive, 1960. Howard Chilton, architect. [AUGUSTUS MAYHEW]
369 South Lake Drive. Park Place co-op apartments, 1959. Howard Chilton, architect.[ AUGUSTUS MAYHEW]
389 South Lake Drive. Howard Chilton, architect. 1960s luxury. [COURTESY HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF PALM BEACH COUNTY]
389 South Lake Drive. Howard Chilton, architect. [AUGUSTUS MAYHEW]
389 South Lake Drive, port cochere entrance. [AUGUSTUS MAYHEW]
400 South Ocean Boulevard, interior hall with porthole skylights. Edward Durell Stone, architect. [AUGUSTUS MAYHEW]
400 South Ocean Boulevard. Open atrium courtyard view. 2021. [AUGUSTUS MAYHEW]
400 South Ocean Boulevard. South elevation. [AUGUSTUS MAYHEW]
400 South Ocean Boulevard. View northeast across the atrium. [AUGUSTUS MAYHEW]
400 South Ocean Boulevard, view northwest. [AUGUSTUS MAYHEW]
The Colony, Hammon Avenue. Under construction, 1947. Simonson & Holley, architect.[ COURTESY HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF PALM BEACH COUNTY]
The Colony, south elevation. Port-cochere entrance. 2021. [AUGUSTUS MAYHEW]
President of Palm Beach, under construction. Architect Norman Robson shows one of the project’s developers the finer points of his architectural model. [COURTESY HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF PALM BEACH COUNTY]
The President of Palm Beach condominium port-cochere entrance and functional geometric panel with aggregate stone display the era’s architectural flair. [AUGUSTUS MAYHEW]
President of Palm Beach, under construction. Architect Norman Robson shows one of the project’s developers the finer points of his architectural model. [COURTESY HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF PALM BEACH COUNTY]
South Palm Residence apartments, 3500 South Ocean Boulevard. 1962. [AUGUSTUS MAYHEW]
Regency of Palm Beach, formerly Ambassador Lakes apartments, 2760 South Ocean Boulevard. Eugene Lawrence, architect. [AUGUSTUS MAYHEW]
Regency of Palm Beach, aerial. [COURTESY REGENCY OF PALM BEACH]

Modern & Contemporary

Palm Beach Life magazine covers, March 1961 and October 1973. At Palm Beach, modern architecture became synonymous with 60s and 70s elegance. [COURTESY HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF PALM BEACH COUNTY & PRESERVATION FOUNDATION OF PALM BEACH]
Samuel Paley Pavilion, Royal Palm Way. 1964. John L. Volk, architect. The Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach County houses the John L. Volk architectural archive. [AUGUSTUS MAYHEW]
Plaza Center, Royal Palm Way. 1970. Schwab & Twitty, architect. [AUGUSTUS MAYHEW]
Minimal Modernism. North End, north elevation. Marques Javier de Olaso, architect. [AUGUSTUS MAYHEW]
175 Bradley Place. In 2000, a 1950s medical building originally designed by noted Miami architect Norman Giller was transformed into a post-Modern “shiny cube” with strips of Mexican travertine by the Anstis, Vass & Ornstein, architectural firm. [AUGUSTUS MAYHEW]

Ibis Isle Road, east elevation. 2015. Kyle Webb, architect. [AUGUSTUS MAYHEW]
Ibis Isle Road, west elevation. 2012. 1100 Architect. [NIKOLAS KOENIG/OTTO]
Oceanfront Contemporary. North Ocean Boulevard, east elevation. 2016. Randall E Stofft, architects. [AUGUSTUS MAYHEW]
“Classical Modernism” in the Estate Section, 2019. 2019 Schuler Award/Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach. Smith & Moore Architects, Daniel Kahan, architect. [COURTESY SMITH & MOORE/SARGENT ARCHITECTURAL PHOTOGRAPHY]
“Classical Modernism.” Smith & Moore Architects, Daniel Kahan, architect. [COURTESY SMITH & MOORE/SARGENT ARCHITECTURAL PHOTOGRAPHY]
“Brazilian Modern” in the Estate Section, 2020. Marcio Kogan of Studio MK 27, architect. 2020 Schuler Award/ Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach [COURTESY KEITH WILLIAMS/NIEVERA-WILLIAMS LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE/MICHAEL STAVARIDIS]
21st-century Palm Beach Modern. South Ocean Boulevard, 2019. STONEFOX Architect. [JESSICA GLYNN PHOTOGRAPHY]

Sunrise at Pam Beach Gibraltar. Although located on West Palm Beach’s South Flagler Drive at the Royal Park Bridge, The Bristol might be considered much like Gibraltar, a Palm Beach Overseas Territory, since former Palm Beach residents make up a majority of its owners. [AUGUSTUS MAYHEW]

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