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Florida Land Boom (1920s)

Notoriety far outlived Addison Mizner in Florida. A house Addison designed for the Wanamakers (owners of a famed Philadelphia department store) was later acquired by the Kennedys and used as the Palm Beach White House during the John Kennedy's presidency. Thirty years after JFK's assassination (and 60 years after Addison's death), the house again became nationally known, this time for William Kennedy Smiths alleged after-hours rendezvous.

During the Florida land boom, Addison hobnobbed with, and often designed houses for the rich and famous, including sewing machine heir Paris Singer, who bought Joe's Alligator Farm in Palm Beach and arranged for Addison to start turning the site into tony Worth Avenue. Addison's kitschy Spanish colonial type designs soon became known as the "Palm Beach Style". El Solano, a house that Addison designed and built for himself, was instead sold to a Vanderbilt. More recently, Yoko Ono bought and restored the house.

Addison's preference for Spanish architecture was influenced by his youthful trips to Guatemala, by his brief stay as a student at the University of Salamanca, and by repeated trips to Spain as an adult. Time, hurricanes, and razing caused the destruction of some of Addison's structures. Numerous structures still stand, including 29 houses in Boca Raton's Old Floresta section. Though some of bungalows have been modified, the Spanish colonial style is easily recognizable.

The Mizner circle in southeast Florida included chums from their New York sojourn. Composer Irving Berlin (who at various times attempted to write a musical about Wilson Mizner) sometimes hung out with the brothers, as did actress Marie Dressler, Dubbed "duchess of Palm Beach", Ms Dressler also helped the brothers sell real estate. The brothers established the Mizner Development Corporation, flagrantly using the names of their wealthy clients to sell property, to win commissions for Mizner's ornate designs, and to publicize their latest ventures.

As the land boom spiraled upward, Addison and Wilson sold millions of dollars of Florida real estate, whilst Addison continued to design and construct buildings. One of his most designs, the Cloister Inn, opened in 1926. This time the Mizners went too far, using Gen. Gen. T. Coleman DuPont's name to hype the new resort. DuPont exposed their Mizners, by distributing information about Wilson's arrest gambling-related arrest in 1919. Dupont then released a statement to the New York Times and the New York Herald-Tribune, saying that he was ending his association with the Mizners. People who bought real estate from the Mizners' began defaulting on their loan payments.

Then a railroad embargo on building materials halted construction in Florida and a ship carrying construction materials floundered and blocked the access to Miami's harbor for six weeks. This combination of events ruined the Mizners, whose downfall presaged the collapse of the Land Boom, in early 1926.

Hollywood (1930)

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