Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The Architect and Financier: History of the Gulf Stream Hotel in Lake Worth, FL (Continued), a series in the Coastal Observer

The banner for the Coastal/Greenacres Oberver.
The second installment on the history of the Gulf Stream hotel is in the October 15th edition of the Coastal Observer. You can read the first excerpt in the series here. From the Coastal Oberver (October 8th edition) here is another excerpt on the history of our iconic hotel in the City's downtown: meet the architect and financier

     The Gulf Stream Hotel was designed by G. Lloyd Preacher & Company, architects and engineers, and was financed by G. L. Miller Bond & Mortgage Company.
     Geoffrey Lloyd Preacher began architectural practice in 1910 in Augusta, Georgia, and eventually established offices in New York, Indianapolis, Memphis, Raleigh, Spartanburg, Miami, St. Petersburg, and San Francisco, with headquarters in Atlanta. Preacher organized his firm so that it had "departments for every class of architecture, engineering, finance and supervision" gaining the "confidence of financiers, developers, and builders". The firm was phenomenally successful, by some accounts grossing $12 million in the first quarter of 1923, worth about $55.6 million in 1981 dollars. Fees in that amount would suggest that in the first quarter alone of 1923, G. Lloyd Preacher & Company was responsible for $200 million in construction activity. If built in 1981, that work would cost roughly $928 million. At the time that the Gulf Stream Hotel was announced, Preacher was introduced as the architect of the recently completed El Verano Hotel and the Citizens Bank Building, both in neighboring West Palm Beach.

     The building permit for the original design was taken out in the amount of $225,000 in May, 1923, the largest permit in Lake Worth's eleven year history. After two months of construction, during which the concrete frame was built, all work halted because of financial difficulties. Work resumed eight months later, in March of 1924, following design cutbacks by Preacher, reorganization of the El Nuevo Hotel Company Board of Directors, and selection of a new contractor.
     By the end of June, 1924, the building was identified as "the Gulf Stream, Lake Worth’s $400,000 fireproof hotel”, scheduled to open before October 1. Six weeks before the scheduled opening, the bond issue was increased by $65,000 with the consent of the G. L. Miller Bond & Mortgage Company. Scheduled opening date was moved to November 1, with much of the delay attributed to slow shipments of materials. The informal opening finally took place on December 10, with the formal ceremonies and dedication on January 20, 1925. At that point, the hotel was described as having been built "at a cost in excess of $600,000", 140% over the original contract amount.

Check back later on this blog for more on the history of the Gulf Stream Hotel.