Addison Cairns Mizner was born in 1872 in Benicia, California, to a prominent family. He was the second youngest of seven children. In 1889 “papa” Mizner was appointed Envoy Extraordinary and Minister to Central America and took the family to live in Guatemala City. The impact Guatemala had on Mizner cannot be overstated. Mizner was captivated by the Spanish architecture. Mizner went on to study in Spain, traveled to the Far East, Australia, and lived for a few years in Hawaii. Mizner trained as an architect and worked as a draftsman in California for Willis Polk, the leader of the Spanish “mission” style of design.
Mizner grew restless and set out on an expedition to Alaska. He spent two years along the Yukon and eventually settled in New York. Mizner established an office on Park Avenue and earned the reputation as an architect of the affluent. He devoted himself to his career and his health began to suffer.
Mizner arrived in Florida in 1918 the house guest of Paris Singer, heir to the sewing machine fortune. In 1919, self-taught architect Addison Mizner completed his first project in South Florida – the “Everglades Club.” His revival of Spanish architecture proved to be a revelation and became the dominant architectural style for Florida.
Addison’s desire for excellence required that he be personally involved with the interior design of his projects as well. He traveled to Spain to select the materials and products he required to create each masterpiece. As his reputation grew and new commissions flooded in, immediate access to these supplies and building materials became necessary.
Based on the policy “if you can’t find it, make it,” Mizner launched into the building business. There he personally oversaw the design of each building and the creation of the materials he required for his projects. By 1925, the firm had expanded considerable and grew into what became known as “Mizner Industries.” The company prospered under his direction until 1931. Upon his death in 1933, the plant was sold from Mizner’s estate and operated until the mid 1950’s.
by Donald W. Curl
Florida Architecture of Addison Mizner
by Dover Publications
Addison Mizner Architect of Dreams and Realities
by Norton Gallery of Art
Addison Mizner Architect to the Affluent
by William Olendorf
by Caroline Seebohm