My Investigation of the History of Our Building:
The land under Portofino South had a few lives before this building was erected. It was known as The Miramar @South Palm Beach, Florida or The Miramar Inn…. In many articles that I researched it seems that the area at earlier times was called “South Palm Beach” not West Palm Beach. This location was somewhat separate from West Palm Beach. I do not know what year that changed.
Built in 1922 the hotel was finished in January. The local newspaper The Post announced that it went beyond expectations and would be counted along with The Breakers and The Poinciana, on Palm Beach, as one of the finest resorts in the South. The hotel was built by Dr.F.G. Schwarz and Alfred H. Wagg, a community developer, and built in the style of Mission and Flemish. It was to be managed by Edward Mohr. There were 100 rooms and they bragged that every room was connected with a “P.B.X.” switchboard.
The inn opened for the season with a dinner dance with two orchestras and other entertainment. Three Hundred and eighty eight people made reservations to this elaborate event and the party was considered one of the most elaborate events on this side of the lake.
By 1927 West Palm Beach had about 30 or 40 hotels. The largest was The Pennsylvania and many “Spanish type hotels” like the El Verano, The Monterey, The Salt Air, and The Royal Palm. There was also a ferry that went to Palm Beach from West Palm Beach. The Miramar Inn was known as high end hotel, as it was located in the best residential section of the city. Many of the hotels at this time advertised their fireproof construction.
In 1929 I found an ad for The Miramar Inn stating its current rates. There were two different plans, European and American. On the American Plan a single was either $5 or $6 and a double rate was $9 or $12 per day, and this was during season, which was from December to January. Back then hotels opened in December and closed around the 15th of April.
Resort life at the hotel included a private dock which they claim was for “marine sports” which included deep sea fishing. Beach games were part of the advertisements. There was a sand beach and twice daily transportation to the beaches and shopping on Palm Beach. Also there was a “marine roof” for sunbathing and a roof restaurant with its wonderful views that was a big draw from all around the area.
The hotel changed hands in late 30’s and was now owned by Stanley Smith Jr. and John B. Smith who also owned another hotel called The Albermarle Hall in Virginia Beach, Va. They had bought the hotel in 1936 for about $60,000.00. In certain documents I found his weekly payroll was about $188.00.
In July 1969 the three storied Inn had become aged and rundown and was demolished by a developer from Miami named Jack Taylor. His plans for the 3 ½ acre property was for an apartment house, 12 stories with 141 unit apartments.
The project had one and two bedroom apartments and some units had extra “dens”. The kitchens were to be all electric and all closets were walk-in. Each floor had its own recreation, laundry and lounge. I wonder where the lounges and recreation went? The pool was not demolished as it was fairly new and it is our pool today.
A former comment from Chamber of Commerce of West Palm Beach caught my eye. It was comparing West Palm Beach and Palm Beach.”In reality the two cities of West Palm Beach and Palm Beach complement one another…..providing in one wealth, elegance, culture, and in the other the more modest of the average tourists”