The House that changed Palm Beach (2014)
Villa Mizner, The House That Changed Palm Beach is about a grand town-palace on Worth Avenue, Palm Beach, Florida — one of the world’s most beautiful and up-scale streets.
The book begins with the famous, charismatic architect Addison Mizner’s eight-year tenure (1924-1933) in the home of his dreams and includes well-researched, fictionalized conversations with Mizner’s famous clients of the 1920s. This period comes to life as it explores the grand palaces Mizner designed for America’s most extravagant elite.
Together with his friend and patron, Paris Singer, heir to the Singer sowing machine fortune, these two inseparable friends changed the nature of Palm Beach from a stogy Edwardian style established by Henry Flagler to a modern, socially inclusive, extroverted society. Daily cocktail parties were held inside the villa while Irving Berlin played the piano and Isadora Duncan danced the night away.
Sadly, many of the magnificent homes Mizner designed during the “roaring twenties” were destroyed forty years later. The book contains dozens of pictures of the properties in an effort to preserve their memory.
Readers will also discover details about Mizner’s clients’ lives — all scions of American industry and high society; families such as Phipps, Stotesbury, Cosden, Vanderbilt, du Pont, Wanamaker, Duke, Shearson, Chase and Warburton. They will learn of the ill-timed, failed attempt to create the model city of Boca Raton and the reasons why the brilliant, industrialist architect died intestate, bankrupt and without commissions.
The book then chronicles the house’s subsequent owners beginning with Rose and Mortimer Sachs whose tenure spanned four and a half decades (1939-1985). This influential couple built and operated a huge real estate empire in Via Mizner and along Worth and Peruvian Avenues.
Readers will then learn about the villa’s transition period when it was owned by Ian Kean and, later, Robert and Gay Kanuth (1985 – 2003).
The in-town mansion finally ends up in the hands of Dee and Nick Adams, descendants of America’s second President, John Adams. This vibrant young couple have brilliantly restored and furnished the house, making it look like Mizner just stepped out to dinner. The Adamses have resumed the pattern of having a modern, direct and positive impact on Palm Beach’s way of life.
The owners of Villa Mizner have all cooperated with the author to share personal stories (and pictures) of their tenures in the villa, including tales about what they all believe is evidence of Mizner’s pet monkey’s ghost who happily still lives in the villa.
The book brings this villa to life, as the story becomes an amusing and informative history of Palm Beach, Florida.