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The Architecture of Mott B. Schmidt French City Village Houses Coral Gables, Florida 1925

Coral Gables was planned by George Merrick beginning in 1921 - an offshoot of the resort land boom that had begun in south Florida following World War I. Envisioning a stylistically integrated community of "Mediterranean" houses and public buildings, Merrick assembled a team of architects, artists and landscape architects which included Denman Fink, Phineas Paist and Frank Button. They laid out a network of winding streets and broad avenues, punctuated by Spanish or Italian inspired gates, fountains and public buildings. In 1925, Merrick relinquished some control over the suburb by deeding over 100 lots to the American Building Corporation, investors based in Cincinnati, Ohio. This group intended to construct a series of twenty period revival theme villages, using many of the prevailing stylistic idioms favored by eclectic architects. Only six were realized, the best being Marion Syms Wyeth's Dutch South African Village, Henry Killam Murphy's Chinese Village, Phillip Lippincott Goodwin's French Provincial Village, and Schmidt's French City Village, all built between 1925 and 1926. Mott Schmidt teamed with the New Jersey developer and attorney Anderson Fowler in building the French City Village on Hardie Road. Loosely following the conventions used in the other developments -small villa-like houses with walled yards and convenient garage entrances from the street-Schmidt designed a semiurban enclave which anticipated the "townhouse" developments of the 1970s. By varying the plan types, orientations and garden layouts, while following a vaguely classical, eighteenth century French style, the architect achieved both unity and diversity. Many of the motifs used in the houses appear to derive from plates in Phillip Goodwin and Henry Milliken's 1924 book French Provincial Architecture, a popular source for suburban houses. The houses are sought after landmarks in Coral Gables and have been augmented by additional "French" residences on the remaining part of the block.

French City Village