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The Howey Mansion Blossoms Anew



Building Name: The Howey Mansion

Address: 1001 N. Citrus Avenue, Howey-in-the-Hills, FL

Link to location on Google Maps: Click Here

Year Built: 1925-1927

Architect of Record: Katharine Cotheal Budd


Noteworthy Architectural Features: This grand estate follows Mediterranean Revival inspiration. The rosy stucco exterior, quiet walled garden, arched windows, elaborate parapets, arcaded loggia, and red tile roofs contribute to an over-all design that is at one time both stately and fantasy. The design includes the main mansion with twenty rooms, including eight bedrooms and eight bathrooms, a grand drawing room, elegant curving staircase, as well as an outlying garden casita. The building was designed by a pioneering woman architect who had a national presence and practice in the first half of the 20th century.


How to Visit: Exterior, during business hours. Also viewable along N. Citrus Avenue. Interior, by pre-arranged tours. Visit their website to book. The mansion also has five guest rooms which may be reserved via the website.


Architectural Style: Mediterranean Revival



Description:

Hidden in the hills beyond the western shores of Lake Apopka, in the pleasant rolling central Florida countryside, stands a house dating back nearly a century. For many years, the home was the lively center of private and community gatherings. And then, for a time it became almost forgotten, an overgrown Sleeping Beauty’s Castle-like curiosity for those who passed its gates along Florida State Road 19. Now the home and gardens have been carefully restored, and the Howey Mansion is in the public eye once more.


The Howey Mansion (also known as Casa Howey), located at 1001 Citrus Avenue, Howey-in-the-Hills, was built in the years 1925-1927. It was designed for William J. and Mary Hastings Howey. William Howey was a community builder and he used all of his knowledge to foster the citrus industry in Lake County Florida. He was also a Republican candidate for Governor of Florida in the late 1920s. The chosen location for the Howey home was on the high ground overlooking many of the citrus groves he developed and the Harris Chain of Lakes, in the town that bears his name.


The estate was designed by Katharine Cotheal Budd (1860-1951), a pioneering woman in the field of architecture. Katharine Cotheal Budd had a very successful career spanning the late 1890s to the late 1940s. Although her office was located on Madison Avenue in New York City, her handiwork extended throughout the Northeast, and all the way to Florida which is a lovely advantage for Central Floridians today.


The Howey Mansion is designed in the Mediterranean Revival Style, which makes it part of a national movement highlighting features that came from places like Spain, Italy, and Morocco. Mediterranean Revival Style is especially appropriate for the climate of Florida. Indeed, many Central Florida architects of the 1920s strove as a group to create a style that was particularly appropriate to Florida. The architectural language that they used was a Spanish Revival Mediterranean Revival type.


In the present day, there is sometimes speculation as to how this Mediterranean Revival Style happened. It was due in part to the Panama-California Exposition in San Diego of 1915-1918. Some of those buildings remain today, and are part of the civic infrastructure and heritage of San Diego. At the time of the fair, people came from all over the United States and beyond, including architects who wanted a good look at the fair’s buildings. They took the design ideas back to wherever their home base was, and you can find Mediterranean Revival Style buildings in such unlikely and widespread places as Minneapolis and Pittsburgh and Atlanta, as well as in the more-expected Southwest and Florida.

Another resource that greatly enhanced the popularization and understanding of Mediterranean Revival Style in that time period was the series of valuable scholarly articles authored by Rexford Newcomb, Assistant Professor of History at the University of Illinois, published monthly in a year-long series in "The Western Architect", a professional journal that was read and discussed by architects everywhere. The articles were considered cutting edge. They presented authentic Spanish Colonial architecture in photos and measured drawings, with all its simplified forms, in stucco, with restrained use of ornament, often with either flat roofs or with barrel tile roofs, and parapets that were boldly geometric. This helped to illustrate the style, and garnered the attention of architects far and wide.


Although she designed in other styles, including Colonial Revival and Arts and Crafts, Katharine Cotheal Budd was especially adept at the Mediterranean Revival Style, as can be demonstrated by the Howey Mansion, in overall forms, in massing, as well as in its smallest detail. All of which came from Budd’s drafting board.


The home has the suggestion of Tuscany, with its intentionally mottled rosy tone stucco, bracketed overhanging eves, and red tile roof. The mansion has a footprint one might call a flattened V or boomerang shape, designed specifically to take full advantage of the Florida sunshine. Each façade offers the visitor a lively and varied composition of Mediterranean Revival elements. The central portion of the entrance façade is in beautifully carved limestone, with elegant pilasters, a scrolled pediment, and a large scallop shell surmounting the peak. Limestone accents are to be found in the drawing room façade, the Juliet balconies, the window sills, and coping. The round headed front door is constructed of pecky cypress, with elaborate ironwork hinges. This arched theme is echoed in a second story series of windows to the left of the entry, and in the French doors of the drawing room façade, as well as in the columned arches of the loggia and porte cochere. The house is picturesquely asymmetrical and yet marvelously balanced, and includes a corner tower with crenellations. There are Juliet balconies, and a romantic exterior stairway to the walled garden balcony. All in all, these create a fantasy architecture that has a sense of drama and a sense of repose.


Inside, The Howey Mansion boasts twenty rooms encompassing 7188 square feet of living space. Arched doorways, fanlights, ornamental ironwork, multi-colored stained glass, with peacock plumage inspired designs. The interior of the home is spacious and well-appointed, perhaps its most dramatic feature is the curving staircase in the foyer, with its custom wrought iron bannister, beveled glass chandelier, and filigreed lamp stands. A perfect setting for making a grand entrance. The main drawing room is ballroom-sized, with many arched French doors as well as windows, all oriented to make the most of the Florida climate, and overhead, a coffered timber ceiling. There are eight bedrooms and eight bathrooms.


Today The Howey Mansion is more accessible to the general public than ever before. Tours are given by advance reservation made via their website. There’s an annual music series; the Howey Mansion publishes the calendar on their website. In addition, those who want to experience the Howey Mansion up close and personal can arrange to stay in one of the five guest rooms in the mansion.



Biography of Architect Katharine Cotheal Budd


Born in Clinton, Iowa, Katharine Cotheal (“Kate”) Budd was trained as an architect in the apprentice tradition, including studies in painting with William Merritt Chase, and in architecture with Professor William R. Ware of Columbia University. At Chase’s Shinnecock Hills Summer School of Art, male students who had plans to go into the profession of architecture encouraged her to do likewise, based upon her obvious talent.


During World War I, Budd was responsible for overseeing the creation of seventy lodges for visiting spouses of servicemen, designing many of them in the mid-west as well as in Acadia, Florida, These YWCA “Hostess Houses” provided military wives with temporary lodging near their husbands. Budd coordinated the entire national project, coordinating her work along with two other prominent early women architects Julia Morgan and Fay Kellogg. Morgan was responsible for Hostess Houses in the West, Fay Kellogg for those in the South, and Budd designed them for the Midwest, and in at least one instance, Florida.


Her career encompassed schools, office buildings, clubhouses, and hotels, as well as residences. One of which was the Adelaide Alsop Robineau (1865–1929) house “Four Winds” 216 Robineau Road, Syracuse, New York (1904). Appropriately, it is a grand bungalow designed in the Arts and Crafts Style for Robineau, who is considered one of the foremost ceramists of the American Art Pottery movement. Robineau and Budd were fellow students of Wiliam Merritt Chase. Adjacent is "The Honeymoon Cottage," at 216 Robineau Road, was also designed by Katharine C. Budd, in 1914. The house was built for Robineau's younger sister, Clarissa, and her husband, Walter Stillman. Also by Budd is 210 Robineau Road, a large shingled bungalow. Other notable works include what is now the Alpha Epsilon Phi House at 751 Comstock Avenue, Syracuse NY, an expansive example of English Tudor Revival architecture.


In an article from the “Brooklyn Daily Eagle” on Sunday May 9, 1926, Katharine Cotheal Budd spoke of her philosophy of architecture:


“I do not find that my work is really successful unless three years after completion, I believe that the lives of the people occupying that home or building are better for having lived there. I feel that I have a mission in life as much as a priest or a doctor.”


Katharine Cotheal Budd also designed the equally interesting Henry C. Duncan House (1925) 426 Lake Dora Drive, Tavares, FL, in Colonial Revival Style, the red brick white columned home offers Central Floridians a glimpse of how well-versed she was in that contrasting style. The Duncan House is still privately owned and should be viewed from the public street only.


It is not yet known whether Katharine Budd designed other landmark buildings in Central Florida. Certainly the Howey Mansion, in and of itself, ranks among the outstanding works of architecture in Central Florida by architects with national reputations, such as Ralph Adams Cram’s Knowles Chapel at Rollins College in Winter Park, and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Florida Southern University campus in Lakeland.


Katharine Cotheal Budd’s final resting place is the South Lawn Memorial Cemetery in Tucson, Arizona. Thanks to the efforts of her great-niece, her papers are archived at the AIA Headquarters in Washington, D.C.







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