Architect Hohauser in Hollywood; and Before Margaritaville, the Casino

One brief notice in the Hollywood Herald of August 6, 1937 has led to an entire blog today. The notice read:  “S. ADLER GETS CITY’S PERMIT FOR NEW HOTEL.” No, of course, not Margaritaville, but this hotel was also on the beach. It was called the Surf Hotel, on the Broadwalk at Polk Street.Disk 3 bill pcs Surf actual  Costing $105,000 it had 50 rooms “each with bath,” to be completed December 1, 1937.

The architect was HENRY HOHAUSER of Miami Beach.

My eyes lit up at the name Hohauser. Not only did he design many of the gorgeous  Disk 3 bill pcs SurfInternational Modern hotels on Miami Beach, I knew of two houses by him in Hollywood. How exciting to discover a third Hohauser in Hollywood.

In these two images of the Surf Hotel, the top is of course an actual aerial photo, and the bottom is an artist’s treatment of the photo for a postcard. In both, the 1925 Cavanaugh Apartments can be seen directly behind the Surf Hotel. Still extant, the Cavanaugh is on Arizona Street.  The artist’s rendering of the Surf brings out the horizontal stripes that link the windows and emphasize the building’s corners. Also notable, and a key element of the International style, are the protruding flat cement sunshades over the windows. The style often suggests the sun, the sea, and things nautical.  Sadly, the Surf Hotel is gone, but Hohauser’s earliest known building, which is also on the Broadwalk, still stands and has a decidedly nautical theme.

Hohauser on beach

Designed to resemble a grand yacht, this house, shown at right, is mentioned in a 1933 news clip. It was designed by Henry Hohauser for Harry and Ruth Simms, and is still beautiful on the Broadwalk at Georgia Street.

In that same 1933 article Hohauser offered to design other homes in Hollywood, and so he did, for the two-story house on the Hohauser Polk StNE corner of Polk Street and 14th Avenue dates from 1936-37, according to the daughter of the first owner, Roger Barthelemy, who was brought there as a baby in early 1938.

Left and below, the Barthelemy house has many trademarks of the International Modern, or Streamline Modern, style from clean, sharp geometrical lines emphasized by the horizontal stripes, to the curved facade filled with windows, to the cement sunshades, to the porthole windows, and perhaps even a sundeck.

Barthelemy entrance 2013

Hohauser continued to develop his signature style after World War Two, with many known buildings in Miami Beach from the later Forties.

A stunning home on a recent Hollywood Historical Society Home Tour was dated 1947, though the architect isn’t currently known. Everything about it practically shouts “Hohauser,” from the rounded end facing the water, to the flat protruding cement shade above the windows.

South Lake Dr. Left, house at N. South Lake Drive overlooking the Intracoastal Waterway, which is to the right of the photo.

Is this a Henry Hohauser design?

Hohauser was working in the most up-to-the-minute architectural style, called International Modern or Streamline Modern, which came direct to the US in the early 30s from the Bauhaus in Germany, Le Corbusier in France, De Stijl in Holland, and Italian Futurism.  It was the Futurists who emphasized the beauty of machines over what they considered old-fashioned classical academic art.  They admired speed, as in locomotives, grand steamships, and airplanes.  Fussy detail was to be eliminated and long flowing lines emphasized, as it was in the ships and train engines, such as the Streamliner.

In Miami Beach the International Modern style is now called “Art Deco,” or just “Deco,” but there is nothing “deco,” that is, “decorative” about the architecture. The term isn’t exactly inaccurate for this architecture, if the entire name of the exhibition from which it is derived is used. That was the1925 Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes, or International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts.  So instead of focusing on the decorative aspect, this architecture instead might better be called Modern Industrial Art, with its admiration of the powerful, simplified, elegant form and design of machines. And, the International Modern style of building had more to inspire architects at the time than did the decorative arts.

Trained at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, Hohauser was in Florida by 1932. This would make the Simms house on the beach one of his earliest works in Florida. In 1933 he had offered to design more homes for Hollywood. It would be exciting to find them.


Now, back to August, Sol Adler, and his new hotel on the beach. Adler was a local Hollywood man, active in the service clubs and one of those who was behind the development of the municipal golf course at Orangebrook in the 1930s. Another local man active in the service clubs was Clarence Hammerstein, a major supporter of Kiwanis.

Hollywood  Casino Pool. On August 20, 1937 Ham Hammerstein was host to “a throng of children” at the Casino pool. The children were there as guests of the Kiwanis Club. (Most Hollywood children of the 30s and 4os learned to swim at the Hollywood pool.)  Also in that August 20 Hollywood Herald was a photo of Katharine Rawls, an Olympic swimmer who had trained at the Hollywood Casino pool. By August, 1937 Rawls was at an Olympic-level meet in Japan where she won “another aquatic victory” in the woman’s 100-meter back stroke, in one minutes 24.2 seconds.

The Casino pool and cabanas, or changing rooms, were built by J. W. Young in 1924 on the site that will soon become Margaritaville.  The complex occupied an enormous space on the beach, from just south of Johnson Street to Michigan Street.  This aerial taken by Virginia TenEick’s father Clyde Elliott,  shows the completed site, center.

casino, aerial, county

Johnson Street runs along it, upper right, crosses the Inland Waterway by means of the barge bridge, then runs west past North Lake. Adjacent to the pool complex is a group of shops, and across Johnson Street is the Tangerine Tea Room. (Those who are interested might note that there is no bandstand at the ocean end of Johnson Street.)

Casino under construction, 1924

In the image at left, the pool has barely been begun. The Broadwalk is lined with street lights and palms, and Johnson Street is lined with cars and trucks. The building in the far distance, center, is a sales pavilion (it ended up in North Lake following the 1926 storm surge).

Beach Casino pool from ocean, crowds, 1926Young’s Casino pool complex was the most ambitious construction on the southeast Florida coast, after Henry Flagler’s hotels, and Young’s publicists like to point out that the Flagler structures were of wood while Young’s were of more permanent materials.  This early postcard, at right shows the two wading pools on either side of the main pool.

boat in casinoThe photo, at right, is taken from the diving tower and looks out over the Atlantic Ocean. A large crowd surrounds the pool on two levels, watching a small boat race or other entertainment, perhaps clowns. Young intended that his Casino would provide entertainment for visitors to his city, and he also brought Olympic swimmers such as Johnny Weissmuller to thrill the viewers.


The diving tower had three levels, and well into the 50s, the top diving board was a terrifying place to be. Olympic and professional divers performed stunts for Young’s audiences.

Broadwalk and Casino, 1925-26Young’s Hollywood beach, the Broadwalk, and the Casino were a success from the start, attracting well-dressed crowds to swim, walk, or enjoy the entertainment.

At left, the Broadwalk at Johnson Street, looking south, with the Casino at right.

“Casino” in those days did not suggest a place for gambling. At least through World War Two, a casino was a meeting place, often connected with water.

Unlike the adjacent Tangerine Tea Room, the Casino was solidly built and survived numerous hurricanes and storm surges but by the early 60s the surrounding cabanas had been removed leaving only the main pool, with no diving tower.

west on Johnson, beach, billHere is another aerial looking west down Johnson Street from the ocean. There is no longer a crossing at Johnson (gone since 1926), and while there is plenty of parking behind the pool, there aren’t many cars. Also note that there is no bandstand at Johnson Street.

30A. Beach south from Harrison

Here is a view to the south west, from the same time period, early 60s.  Landmarks include the Sheldon Hotel next to the pool, and at the upper left, the Beach Hotel. The Surf Hotel and Cavanaugh Apartments are just below the Beach Hotel. Note also that South Lake is completely undeveloped, as is east Hallandale.

Young had selected the Johnson Street site to be one of the key centers of activity on his beach, together with the elegant Beach Hotel. Recently this site has languished. It’s to be hoped that the new complex  will serve the town as well as Young’s Casino pool did.

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