Historic Structures

McAneeny-Howerdd House - Casa Delia Porta, Palm Beach Florida

Date added: April 29, 2022 Categories: Florida House Mansion

William Joseph McAneeny (1872-1935), for whom the house was built, began his business career as a purchasing agent for the Riker Motor Vehicle Co., later moving to a similar position with the Electric Vehicle Company, then to the Chalmers Motor Co., and the Hudson Motor Car Co., becoming factory manager of the Hudson Company by 1910, secretary by 1918-1927, and president of the company in 1929.

Maurice Fatio came to the Palm Beach area in the 1920s as a representative of Treanor & Fatio, Architects, of New York and Palm Beach. Fatio, Swiss born, and educated as an architect, began his career after coming to America as a young man.

This house is noteworthy for its very fine proportions and scale, and the sensitivity of its ornamentation. It is a thoroughly liveable adaptation of a Romanesque Eclectic Mediterranean design to the prevailing climate, with all major first floor rooms disposed around a central courtyard or patio.

Building permit records refer to the structure to be built as 150' x 180', with a height of 35', composed of two stories and a tower. It is of an irregular L shape.

First floor: The entrance toward the east end of the south wall leads to a spacious foyer opening on the east to a well- proportioned stair hall, which in turn leads to the living room and the garden room beyond.

On the west, the foyer opens directly to a glazed loggia providing circulation to the large powder room and dining room, disposed linearly, with an additional stairs to upper levels. West of the dining room are the pantry and kitchen. North of the dining room is a roofed porch with the bar-grille room adjacent to it on the west.

Second-floor plan: Above the living room is the master bedroom suite with double dressing rooms and baths between it and a terrace on the north. The suite is reached by a balcony over the stair hall. West of the stairs are three corner bedrooms separated by an arrangement of closets and three baths.

Tower rooms (third floor or belvedere) : An elevator as well as a stairs lead to a belvedere room and bath in the tower.

Foyer ante-room: This room is three risers above the driveway, is square in plan with a floor of quarry Key limestone pavers with a rectangular inlay enclosing a positive-negative design of interlocking circles in black and white marble. Walls are rusticated ashlar quarry Key limestone. The plastered ceiling is treated with a Florentine design of hexagons and diamonds with inset rosettes. The surface of the double oak. entrance doors is treated with metal straps and diamond head bolts. They are larger than the masonry opening and are set in the interior face of the wall.

Up three risers on the west wall is an arched opening with filigreed doors and tympanum backed with a screen mesh. An electrified cage chandelier of wrought iron hangs from the center of the ceiling. Other ornamental features are two standing taper holders, 5'-0" high.

Interior foyer: The plan is square. The quarry Key limestone paving is inlaid with terra cotta tiles in a decorative pat- tern. Walls are painted plaster with quarry Key limestone base. The wall is articulated with quarry Key limestone columns with carved ram's head capitals. The ceiling is a modified quadripartite groined vault which is plastered. Two three-taper candelabra stand on the floor.

Stair hall: East of the interior foyer, and up two risers, is the main stairway consisting of quarry Key limestone risers and treads. There are 28 risers. The first tread is elliptical. All others are rectangular except for the broad winders at the right-angle turn along the south wall. The balustrade is filigreed wrought iron, which continues as a railing along the stair well and balcony. Floors at both levels are quarry Key limestone with glazed tile insets on the first floor.

Walls of the stair hall are cream-colored plaster without a baseboard. The celling is plastered with coffered hexagonal design created by cable molding surrounded by egg-and-dart molding. It is painted light green. The cornice is a 12" wood panel with applied rosettes between acanthus trim at the top and bottom. The cased opening with wood trim is a modified Tudor arch. On the west wall is a sitting alcove with a quarry Key limestone bench on richly carved supports. A wrought—iron cage lamp is suspended from the ceiling.

Living room: The flooring is 8" pegged, oak. The walls are pickled-oak. boiserie with fluted pilasters framing all openings and also at the corners of the room. These pilasters begin at a chair rail 32" above the floor. Slightly above the doors is a second molding which follows the profile of the pilasters. Paneling between the pilasters is of linen-fold design below the molding. Above, short fluted pilasters occur over the major pilasters below with carved acanthus and animal designs in the panels between. A bracketed projecting cornice conceals continuous cove lighting. The inverted tray ceiling is treated with bombe squares in low relief, trimmed with acanthus design, and containing a heraldic crest within each panel. All doors are solid wood, 8'-0" high, also paneled with linenfold design. The fluted pilasters which trim the door jambs support a wood Tudor arch enclosing, above the transom bar, a carved panel decorated with a shield and eagle, fruit, and acanthus. Windows are framed in pointed arches supported by spiral columns with modified Corinthian capitals. These columns are repeated on the exterior of the windows.

The accent on the east wall is the hooded fireplace faced with ashlar quarry Key limestone. At the intersection of the hood with the ceiling is a banding of acanthus with marmoset, figures clinging to the two outer corners. Below the hood is a deep stone panel trimmed with acanthus around a central heraldic crest and shield. The lintel is supported on corbels carved as the head of a man in medieval headdress on the left, and a woman in medieval headdress on the right. The hearth is of cast stone.

The north wall is fitted with built-in bookcases on each side of the doorway. The east bookcase is false, complete with false bindings, it can be raised to reveal the bar behind it. Heating vents are concealed behind grilles in the boiserie.

Garden room: This indoor-outdoor room is north of the living room. The floor is laid in polished glazed hexagonal tiles with green diamond insets. The border is a double row of square tiles. The plaster ceiling contains decorative beaming in multi-faceted starburst design. The beams are inlaid with wood strips, the shallow-coffers painted in earth tones The cornice is carved with similar inlays and painting.

Dining room: Floors are red glazed terra cotta tiles in octagons and squares and elongated lozenge shapes, with green lozenge-shaped tile border. The baseboard is glazed tile. Walls are plastered, painted white. The plaster ceiling has wood coffering decorated with egg-and-dart below acanthus molding. Rosettes are centered in each panel. The double doors on the north wall leading to the glazed loggia are paneled in medieval scenes with figures in high relief. The transom panel above is similarly treated. The door to the kitchen has raised panels with a single glass light at eye level.

Windows are set in deep beveled reveals of quarry Key limestone, with engaged columns at the jambs plus an intermediate column supporting the arched openings.

The fireplace is framed by fluted stone pilasters and a mantel consisting of an entablature with dentils, fluted band, and egg-and-dart molding. The raised hearth is of unglazed square tiles. Grilled iron registers are located below the windows.

Lounges: Between the foyer and the dining room are two lounges opening to the glazed loggia. The men's room on the west is up two risers. Floors are of glazed tiles combining green hexagons with black diamonds. The border and baseboard are square black tiles.

Plaster walls are painted and the pecky cypress ceiling is rubbed antique white. The cornice is painted dentils and egg-and-dart molding. The ceiling is also treated with shallow coffering. Mirror-backed sconces are on the wall. The water closet and lavatory are in an adjacent room.

The ladies' lounge is similar except that the floors are of hardwood. Walls are antiqued gray boiserie with a denticulated cornice. The ceiling is painted plaster.

Bar/Grille room: Here the floors are hexagonal red glazed tiles. A 6'-0" high mahogany dado contains paneling and carved bas-relief, pilasters. Above this are handpainted tiles set in the plaster walls forming squares decorated with heraldic emblems. The shallow coffered ceiling consists of painted beams and panels. Doors are wood paneled. A wood liquor bar is built into the southwest corner of the room and decorated with the same designs as the dado. Below the counter are five inset panels of heraldic emblems painted on tiles. The countertop is of oak. A six-lamp chandelier is suspended from the ceiling.

Kitchen and Service areas: Floors are asphalt tile. Walls and ceilings are painted plaster. Doors are wood paneled with, transoms above.

Glazed loggia: This loggia overlooks the patio. The floor is quarry Key limestone with terra cotta tile insets continuing the floor pattern of the interior foyer. The south wall is of ashlar quarry Key limestone. The north wall is a glazed arcade with quarry Key limestone quoins, voussoirs, and sills on the interior. The room is notable for its proportions and scale.

Second-floor rooms:

Master bedroom; Floors are varnished oak. Walls are papered above a simple molded baseboard. The cornice is denticulated and the ceiling is painted plaster. Doors are paneled. Trim is simple and painted. The fireplace is framed by engaged Corinthian wood columns on marble pedestals. An ogee arch surrounds the opening. The hearth is black marble.

Northeast dressing room: Floors are varnished oak, walls are paneled pine with denticulated cornice. Ceiling is painted plaster.

Northwest dressing room: Finishes are similar to the northeast dressing room, except the paneled walls are decorated with hand-painted murals.

Northeast bathroom: Floors are gray glazed tile. Walls and ceiling are plastered above a tile wainscot decorated at the top with hand-painted tiles. There is a marble lavatory and a built-in-floor scale.

Northwest bathroom: Floors are green glazed tile. Walls and ceiling are similar to the northeast bathroom, except that the arched tub enclosure is completely surfaced with colorful decorative handpainted tiles. The opening is framed by fluted pilasters supporting, a recessed cavity for the shower curtain.

Southwest bedroom wing: The corridor leading to these rooms is down eight wood risers from the stair hall. Floors and baseboard are tile. Walls and ceiling are painted plaster. The ceiling is vaulted over the flight of steps and at the entry to the stair hall, The door contains raised panels. Two weathered lamps with leaded faces are suspended from the ceiling. There is an enclosed elevator at the east end.

Tower room, or Belvedere: The rectilinear plan includes an elevator, full bath, and stairs on the west side. This room is eighteen risers above the second floor. The stairs have black glazed tile treads and emerald green risers. The floor in the room consists of a field of black diamond and trapezoidal tiles bordered with green tiles set in a herringbone pattern. The baseboard is also black tile.

Walls and ceiling are painted plaster. In addition, the ceiling is coffered in antique white decorated with acanthus sunbursts. The cornice combines fig—leaf with egg-and-dart moldings. A leaded glass lantern which is electrified hangs from the ceiling. Grilled heat registers are located in the walls. The double-arched window openings contain a single-light operating sash. The adjoining bath is up three tile risers from the room. Here floors are green hexagons of glazed tile. Walls and ceilings are painted plaster.