Wednesday, December 16, 2015

From, a history of Singer Island and the Blue Heron Hotel

"Singer Island was named for Paris Eugene Singer, the famous developer of Palm Beach and 23rd child of Isaac Singer, the sewing machine magnate (Paris also fathered a son with legendary dancer Isadora Duncan in 1910*). In 1920, he visited Palm Beach and met Addison Mizner. He agreed to pay the architect a $6,000 a year retainer for life if his work was confined exclusively to the Palm Beach area. With Mizner, he created the Palm Beach we know today with its Spanish architecture, picturesque streets and exclusive shops. Singer often took his friends on picnics to the beautiful island directly north of Palm Beach. In anticipation of the Florida real estate boom, he and Mizner planned to develop a luxurious resort (the Paris Singer Hotel) on the south end of the island and a modest hotel (the Blue Heron) on the north end with a 36 hole golf course between the two structures.

The estimated price was four million dollars - a fantastic amount in those years. Mizner was to design the hotels, but it is said Singer was so eager to start, construction of the Blue Heron was begun before the drawings were started. The opening date was set for 1926. The hotel's service wing was the first and the last to be completed. Singer's original plan was to finance the building from the sale of lots throughout the island. The Florida land boom was already slowing down in 1925, and the combination of 1928 hurricane and 1929 stock market crash dealt a mortal blow to Singer's finances. The shell of the Blue Heron remained for 14 years, until Paris Singer's dream finally came to an end when the the abandoned, incomplete hotel was razed in 1940 (the Hilton Hotel stands there now)."

Click here for the link to the website for the history of the area prior and after the section above. With the publication of the historical information on the Gulf Stream Hotel by the Coastal Observer, it is interesting to know what was going on just north of Palm Beach island during the same period. Below is how the Blue Heron Hotel looked before its demolition in 1940. As indicated above the hotel was never completed. It really underlines the rarity of the Gulf Stream as one of the few surviving hotel buildings from the Florida boom period of the 1920s, at least the ones that catered to the middle class.
Photo courtesy of the Palm Beach County Historical Society.