Boca gives its first ‘Mizner cottage’ historic designation
By Anne Geggis, Sun Sentinel
As seen in the Sun Sentinel
BOCA RATON Addison Mizner gained fame for building opulent Palm Beach mansions, but the newest buzz is about what he did for the middle class.
The first of potentially 12 “Mizner cottages” was designated an historic site last week, inciting a burst of pride in the Spanish Village neighborhood, located on Northwest Seventh and Northwest Eighth streets, between Boca Raton Boulevard and Northwest Third Avenue.
“It has an incredible feeling – there’s just a great energy in these,” said Debbie Ciampi, who bought her home last year and hopes to be next to get the designation. “It’s part of the history of Boca.”
The historic designation from the city won’t stop a wrecking ball, but it will require an extra layer of review if a succeeding owner wants to substantially change the property at 200 NW Seventh St.
Most of the so-called Mizner cottages were built in 1925 during the Florida land boom and at the same time as Boca Raton‘s incorporation. The houses are smaller than those built for the Mizner Development Corp. executives in what’s now known as Old Floresta, which was designated an historic district in 1990.
But the Spanish Village homes – about 850 square feet compared to the 1,200-square-foot ones in Old Floresta – were by no means inexpensive by the standards of the 1920s, said Susan Gillis, curator of the Boca Raton Historical Society.
“They are charming and wonderful survivors in our modern community,” she said. “They reflect the glory days of Boca Raton.”
Advertised at $7,000 each, the homes mimicked the details of larger, more opulent homes and were often owned by the professionals who worked for Mizner, she said.
“They have pecky cypress ceilings, arched doorways and the barrel tile roof,” Gillis said. “We just don’t do stuff like that anymore – not unless you pay a lot of money.”
Christopher Warren, owner of the newly designated site, last week thanked all at City Hall who guided him through the year-long process.
“We’re going to revamp the house so it will be more modern as far as the conveniences,” said Warren, who works at the Sun Sentinel and has owned the home since 2011. “But when you turn down the street, it will look similar to the same.”
Ben Kolstad, who has a Mizner cottage with an addition larger than the original, said the old structure has been a challenge to maintain, considering it had no insulation, old electrical wiring and an aging foundation.
“They are lovely old wood floors, but you can tell the foundation doesn’t meet all the joists anymore,” he said.
Pamela Martyna has lived on Northwest 7th Street for the past 12 years and when Hurricane Wilma blew in most of her Mizner cottage, she said she took pains to rebuild it.
“When I first stepped in the door, it was mine – there was so much character and warmth,” she said.
The first standalone cottage to get the historic designation gave her hope, she said.
“I’ve seen them tear down so much of Boca, it makes me want to throw up,” she said.