The buildings and homes of Palm Beach were largely built in the 1920’s born of the industrial revolution and a new kind of American aristocrat with great wealth and the desire to flaunt it. Maurice Fatio and his partner William A. Treanor, both New York-based architects, opened an office in Palm Beach in the 1920’s. Fatio’s Italian Renaissance style harmonized with Palm Beach’s Mediterranean designs, and he received an early welcome from high society.
Fatio was born in 1897 in Geneva, Switzerland to a wealthy family. After receiving his degree in architecture, he was trained to build city buildings – but wanted to build country houses. In 1921, Fatio and Treanor opened their New York firm. By 1923, they were one of the most popular firms in New York. In 1923, Fatio was commissioned to build a resort in Florida, and during his trips, he decided to open an office in Palm Beach.
Palm Beach was full of Spanish style houses, and Fatio brought a new Italian vision that blended well with the existing architecture. One of his trademarks was Coquina coral stone facades on the front of his homes – seen here on Casa Eleda – one of Palm Beach‘s most recognizable houses. It is also known as the “Ham & Cheese” house because of this facade with alternating brick and Coquina coral layers.
When most of the country was struggling with the Great Depression in the summer of 1930, Fatio was commissioned to design 23 projects to be finished before “the Season” in Palm Beach. Fatio enjoyed designing the interiors different from the exteriors to suit the styles of his clients. Otto H. Kahn commissioned a Florentine-style ocean-to-lake estate – decorated in an Art Deco fashion, the dining room had a stylish black-and-white terrazzo floor. Spanish-style “Casa Alva” was decorated in 18th century French style. “Casa della Porta del Paradiso,” built in 1928 for William J. McAneeny, was a Romanesque style with a Jacobean-style interior.
Fatio passed away too soon in 1943 of cancer at just 46 years old. His homes are easily recognized and only a couple are currently on the market. Click here to view the properties available now.