Sunday, November 18, 2012

A House with a Tropical Garden



Maurice Fatio’s designs were influenced by everything from Mediterranean palaces to British colonial mansions, but even by the modernist styles of his own era. He made extensive use of quarry key stone mined in Florida, and his plans typically included a central courtyard that provided wind-sheltered outdoor entertainment space. He had a vision for this planned community that followed in the footsteps of his Palm Beach predecessors, most notably Addison Mizner. This is one of his great Palm Beach houses, rarely seen before in photographs.

Its central feature is this tower, an architectural element that famously characterizes the Palm Beach feeling—the tower, in most Mediterranean cities, was always a symbol of wealth.

This house sits upon a beach (though the road passes between). It's a dramatic setting, though most enjoyed when the winds are calm.

This Fatio interior courtyard contains a swimming pool. It's hard to say if it was built in 1929 as was the house; perhaps it was developed later. But in any case, it's one of the most beautiful pool gardens I've ever seen, anywhere.

The context is pure vintage Palm Beach as all rooftops in view are from the same early twentieth century period and done in the prevailing Spanish Colonial style.

This second floor terrace is covered with a tent and looks out upon the pool garden.

On ground level this sumptuous pergola provides a delightful lunch venue.

This was not a sunny afternoon but temperatures on this November day were warm and tropical.

The current owner has gone for a bright, almost Asian palette in choosing her garden accesories; it's as if a Japanese-inspired operetta were about to be staged.

The koi swimming in the garden fountain beyond the swimming pool are worthy of a Zen garden in Kyoto.

A bronze alligator reminds us where we are as sculpted frogs and turtles frolic in the fountain spray.

I wonder if the garden layout owes something to Villa Gamberaia, one of Florence's great water parterres.

But this gothic revival backdrop is clearly part of the Palm Beach mix of styles favored by the town's founding fathers.


columnist said...

I agree there is something rather secluded and mystical about the pool, (surrounded as it appears by other properties), and the faded grandeur adds to that effect rather charmingly.

Les said...

If you haven't done so, try to see Bonnet House in Ft. Lauderdale for another glimpse of old Florida. It is open to the public and is a little less posh, but quirkier than this house.

Watkin said...

That's actually my Ideal Tropical Garden.

The Swan said...

Maurice Fario, a name just coming back into view by those with open eyes. How many have been tilled under for terrible visions of Spain meets the Four Seasons.

Love the smallness of the property, the home and the pool...rather this than another large box sold as an estate...I really feel sad that the Bismarck/Wrightsman home was torn down, but you made up for its loss by showing this hidden jewel!

The Down East Dilettante said...

Many is the time I've passed this house with a covetous heart. This post has turned covetousness to downright envious admiration.

Anonymous said...

The diving bench suggests the pool is contemporary with the house. There's a similar arrangement at Ca d'Zan dating from 1927.

Florida villas said...

second floor terrace is looking so beautiful.Thanks for sharing this nice post