Building Palm Beach: Addison Mizner’s Legacy

The next annual exhibition at the Richard and Pat Johnson Palm Beach County History Museum (September 4, 2018 through June 29, 2019) will pay homage to Addison Mizner, who developed a completely new architectural style for Palm Beach that became the standard for Palm Beach County. The year 2018 marks the centennial of Mizner’s first major Florida commission, the Everglades Club in Palm Beach. In addition to his Palm Beach “society” mansions and commercial properties, Mizner is known for spreading his unique style to Boca Raton, which he dreamed of turning into “the world’s most architecturally beautiful playground.” Mizner’s legacy continues in the 21st century as new developments emulate his style and honor his name.

For the first time, the Johnson History Museum has invited a guest curator, Augustus Mayhew, to lend life to the exhibition.  Mayhew has gathered materials long hidden from public view and is using gems from the Historical Society of Palm Beach County’s collection to help communicate the drastic changes that Mizner introduced to the Palm Beaches, both architecturally and in the business community.

When Addison Mizner began building the grand mansions of Palm Beach, he found no one who could supply the appropriate materials for his commissions.  He then hired craftsmen from Europe and started a series of businesses where his visions could be manufactured.  Mizner Industries, Inc. included several companies, including Los Manos Potteries (roof and floor tiles and decorative pottery), La Puerta (antiques and reproduction furniture), and Mizner Cut Cast Stone Company (ornamental building stone).  Many businesses continue to produce these same materials for new construction.

Fledgling architects worked in Mizner’s drawing room, producing detailed renderings and construction drawings.  Some of them eventually opened architectural firms and incorporated Mizner Industries materials in their own designs.

Building Paradise: Addison Mizner’s Legacy will feature many photographs of the houses he designed, both inside and out, materials from the Mizner Industries, Inc. companies, and information about Mizner and the influences that led him to Palm Beach.  It will be both educational and entertaining for visitors of all ages.

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