Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Florida History: Geiger designs Fort Lauderdale High with Miami in mind

Mediterranean Revival style
Winter home of Wm. Jennings Bryan
For more Florida history, see:

By Jane Feehan

Fort Lauderdale’s first high school, Fort Lauderdale Central, was built in 1915. Its architect was August Geiger (1887-1968), who was already well known in Miami and Miami Beach for his work.

From Connecticut, Geiger settled in Miami in 1905 and opened an office in 1911. He was off and running soon after, becoming one of the first registered architects in Florida. William Jennings Bryan, noted orator and politician, commissioned him to design his home, Villa Serena (1913) in Coconut Grove. Geiger, known for his Mediterranean Revival style, also drew the plans for the Lincoln Road oceanfront home of Miami Beach developer Carl Fisher. In 1915, demand for the architect's style prompted Geiger to open an office in Palm Beach.  Many of his surviving buildings in South Florida have been placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Geiger designed Fort Lauderdale Central High School (demolished in 1970) and the Fort Lauderdale Women’s Club in 1915 with his signature Mediterranean Revival imprint.  His firm drew up plans for many schools in Dade County and a few others in what became Broward County in 1915, including the Davie School. Geiger was tapped as architect of record for the Dade County School Board.  Among his later works was the $1.5 million Coral Gables High School in 1950.

Miami and Miami Beach grew significantly during the early 19th century with its burgeoning tourist industry and land boom. Geiger’s work includes the Lincoln Hotel and Apartments (1917) on Miami Beach, demolished long ago. His firm also designed Miami’s first “sky scraper,” the 12-story Ralston Hotel (1917), and, in the same year, the Miami City Hospital (now Jackson Memorial).

Though Geiger was the design force behind Fort Lauderdale’s high school and its women’s club, the city claims Frances Abreu as its own architect. Both men brought a vision to Miami and Fort Lauderdale that served to define early 19th- century South Florida. Copyright © 2012. All rights reserved. Jane Feehan.

For more Fort Lauderdale High School history, see:

For more on William Jennings Bryan, see:

Kleinberg, Howard. Woggles and Cheese Houses. Miami Beach: The Greater Miami & Beaches Hotel Association (2005)
Miami News, Mar. 16, 1917
Wikipedia (photo)

Tags:  first Fort Lauderdale High architect, Miami architect, Mediterranean Revival style in Florida, early Miami architects, early Miami hotels, film industry researcher


Al Stacer said...

Jane, can you clarify when the old Fort Lauderdale High building designed by Geiger was demolished? Nova Elementary School used that building for a year or so around 1966-67. One trimester when I attended BJC, I worked part-time as a teacher's aide in that old building. Thanks for capturing and sharing Lauderdale's history for those of us with ties to the area.

Jane Feehan said...

Al, it was demolished 1970. I changed this in the post from the 1960s. Thanks.