Donald W. Curl


Everyone interested in Florida’s architectural history should know of Francis Burrall Hoffman Jr. and his connection to Miami’s great villa Vizcaya. Few realize he had a distinguished Florida career spanning over sixty years and designed buildings in several sections of the state. In fact, when the United States entered World War I in 1917, the thirty-five-year-old Hoffman may have been, in terms of cost of commissions, Florida’s most successful domestic architect. In only eight short years of private practice, Hoffman had designed Vizcaya, the Biscayne Bay mansion, for industrialist James Deering, large oceanfront residences in Palm Beach for Mrs. Frederick Guest and her brother Henry Carnegie Phipps (their father had been Andrew Carnegie’s partner), and probably had received the commission for the elaborate music room of Pittsburgh industrialist Joseph Riter, which he completed at the war’s end. Moreover, Hoffman returned to Florida to design several houses and Our Lady of Mercy Chapel on Boca Grande; a half century later he began to winter on Jupiter Island where he completed his last major commissions.