The Splendor of Florida Architecture

Jun 12, 2006
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Magical, romantic, historic photographical treat for the eyes.

Cons:None at all.

The Bottom Line: An addictive coffee style pictorial and historial presentation for the romantic at heart who love Spanish influence as much as I do.


Spanish architecture has fed many a dream home fantasy with its distinctive beauty and magical quality. This beautiful coffee table book explores some of the best Spanish architecture in Florida, including private homes, hotels, and other types of buildings. In this book, the author, Susan Sully highlights some of the Florida's most enchanting moorish and Spanish architectural creations from Winter Park to Coral Gables. What we see from looking at the amazing photographic images, is that Spanish influence was very strong in Florida which is not surprising what with the very first explorers of the state being Ponce De Léon. In fact, the book also discusses early Florida history, like the Spanish colonial settlement of St. Augustine in the mid-16th century. The Spanish influence would go well beyond those very early years, well into the present 21st century, beautifying buildings from the northernmost part of Florida to the southernmost tip.

Sully's handiwork shows the fantasy element in this distinctive type of architecture in the Sunshine State, thereby providing a colorful and varied history that complement Steve Brooke's magnificent photographic exploits of the state's Spanish splendors. Also notable in this book are the gorgeous gardens that often frame the Spanish architecture; they seem to go hand-in-hand with this type of building style.

One of my favorite featured homes in this amazing book is the renowned Buenos Recuerdos villa in the heart of Palm Beach. This awe-inspiring Spanish style home was the former domicile of Mrs. William Orr. The home was designed by the venerable Maurice Fatio, who was second in home design architecture to Addison Mizner in the 1920's era in Florida. The lovely villas that were fashioned by these two genius architects, Mizner and Fatio, were primarily designed as winter homes away from home. Mizner had made the Palm Beach Everglades Club famous with his incredible sense of style and fantasy inspiring architecture; a style that would leave its indelible impression on Palm Beach and Boca Raton respectively.

The Buenos Recuerdos villa I have just mentioned was built in 1927 showcases this featured "Casa Florida" style that makes up this book. The character of this home is rooted in the Spanish-revival style that also is prevalent in my state of California, though neither Mizner nor Fatio are known to have built anything here that I know of. Soaring coiffered ceilings, adobe tiles, and plenty of potted plants all add to the innate charm that is the Spanish style. Some of the homes featured in this special book look as if they could indeed be in either Spain or Mexico for that matter, because of their authentic Spanish architecture.

Not all of the homes featured in this book are huge villas, some are merely charming bungalows or less exulted office buildings, but they all have this marvelous and dynamic style of Spanish architecture in common. Each place is special and romantic for the beauty and majestic quality that is so typical of casas and castillos alike in Spain. I have traveled and lived in Spain and I always appreciate the creative and thoughtful nature of this type of design. "Casa Florida" is a masterpiece both in its photographical aesthetic and in the way in which the author expresses her love of the design. This is a real treat for the senses and if you adore Spanish style buildings and decor, this book is sure to delight. Highly recommend.


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