Larry R. Youngs


Maurice Fatio made his first visit to Palm Beach, Florida, at the height of the social season in February 1923. The young Swiss architect planned on trolling for business among the resort's elite guests, hoping to supplement his New York City firm's clientele. The pace and nature of the Palm Beach scene, however, caught him by surprise. In a letter to his parents written on the fourth day of his visit, he exclaimed, "I have never led a more intense life." Describing a typical day, he explained that "one gets up at 10 o'clock to play tennis; at noon one bathes at a splendid beach . . . golf in the afternoon . . . and the day ends with magnificent balls in private homes which are veritable palaces." While he admitted that he "had not yet had time to attend to his business," the exhausting lifestyle made him 'feel physically marvelous." Fatio's letter hints at the central role sport and outdoor recreation played in shaping everyday activities and the sense of place that helped define wintering in Florida.