Gulf Shore Goddess: the Naples home typifies everything its famous architect, Addison Mizner, loved

One of the additions to this Naples home on Gulf Shore Blvd. include a hand-carved marble fountain in the front of the house. The home was built by famed architect Addison Mizner. Mizner's Mediterranean-style architecture can be found in many places in South Florida. Lexey Swall/Staff

Photo by LEXEY SWALL // Buy this photo

One of the additions to this Naples home on Gulf Shore Blvd. include a hand-carved marble fountain in the front of the house. The home was built by famed architect Addison Mizner. Mizner's Mediterranean-style architecture can be found in many places in South Florida. Lexey Swall/Staff

As an architect, Addison Mizner is strongly associated with Palm Beach and Boca Raton, where he designed Spanish and Mediterranean Revival buildings throughout the 1920s, helping to give the area its distinctive look and creating his legacy as the creator of Florida home design

But Naples managed to capture a bit of Mizner’s magic, too.

Here, there are two homes that are commonly considered to be the work of Mizner: The Timken House on Eighth Avenue South and a home that for many years was called The Whiteside House, located at 670 Gulf Shore Blvd. S. The latter recently underwent a three-year historical preservation and renovation.

The Whiteside House has since been renamed Casita de la Playa and is for sale. In total, the home is now 7,419 square feet, with 4,345 under air. Paired with the adjacent lot, which is fully landscaped and fronts the Gulf of Mexico, the estate is being offered at $28 million.

Robert and Marilyn O’Harrow are the Casita de la Playa property managers, and helped manage the renovation process for the homeowner. Historical authenticity was key in the construction, Marilyn O’Harrow says, with the owner wanting “to keep as much as they could possibly keep and only add where they couldn’t.”

In the home’s entryway, the original tile floors remain. On the steps to the second floor, the stairs are inlaid with antique tile – also original. The great room’s floors are also original, stripped from a mahogany stain and sealed with a white wash.

The great room contains one of the home’s most famous Mizner touches: A bas relief fireplace with two lions. Like barrel tile roofs, wrought iron and stucco, elaborate mantelpieces were Mizner’s punctuation to his creations. In the floor’s ceiling is a large decorative medallion, also original to the home’s construction.

“They tried to keep as much of the original plaster as possible,” Marilyn O’Harrow says.

The great room originally served as the home’s entry spot, and there is a 10-foot arched doorway leading out to what was once a driveway. The coral rock archway is inlaid with seashells, now bleached white by years of sun. The shells are also original to the home’s construction — and it has been said they were even collected on the Naples beach and placed there by Mizner himself.

Upstairs, more of the home’s original details remain. A wrought iron grapevine gate serves as the entryway to the master bedroom suite; another, similar gate is also located at the home’s front entrance.

In the renovation process, new features were also added. Modern impact windows designed in the style of the home’s old windows were installed. The backyard gained an arcade, a privacy wall and a 75-foot pool; the bottom of the pool features an abstract wave pattern that is seen at several other places in the home, including on the floor of the renovated kitchen.

A one-bedroom guest suite was also added, as was a garage and tower to contain much of the home’s mechanical equipment, such as the air conditioning units. To comply with requirements for the home’s historical designation, this new construction had to have a different exterior appearance than the original construction.

The property also gained a 75,000-gallon cistern, helpful for irrigating the estate’s extensive landscaping. One of the most notable landscaping additions is what the O’Harrows call “The Orangery,” a collection of citrus trees planted in water runnels. Here again is the wave pattern, but rendered in smooth, decorative stone.

Mizner’s heyday was the 1920s, when a South Florida housing boom and a demand for his style – one that rejected then-modern architecture for what the architect called its “characterless copybook effect” – made him one of the most famous architects in America. But when boom turned to bust, bankruptcy followed. Mizner died at 61 of a heart attack in 1933.

Henri Patou, a talent scout for the Metropolitan Opera, commissioned the home now known as Casita de la Playa in the late 1920s. Then, Jane and Robert Baugham bought the property in 1962.

When the Baughams acquired the home, it had been badly damaged by Hurricane Donna two years before. Some 30 inches of sand, dirt and water flooded the house during the storm. Jane Baugham remembers that you could see the watermark on the walls where the water had come in the on the Gulf side.

The Baughams went to work cleaning and repairing the house. But they didn’t dare touch the details that gave the house its Mizner allure. They lived in the house for another 40 years, loving everything about the property, Baugham says.

“It was a marvelous house,” Baugham recalls. “It was interesting and different.”

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