The Jack C. Massey Architectural Archives was established in 1994 when the foundation accepted its first donation of architectural drawings that had belonged to the well-known architectural firm of Wyeth, King, and Johnson. The collection was given to the foundation by Sidney Neil, a Palm Beach architect, who had bought the firm from Marion Sims Wyeth [1889-1982] at the time of Wyeth's retirement. When Mr. Neil retired the Wyeth Collection was given to the foundation. Since that time two other significant Palm Beach architectural collections have been received. Within the architectural collections are thousands of architectural drawings, renderings, and photographs of Palm Beach residences and commercial buildings primarily spanning a period from 1919 to 1986.
Marion Sims Wyeth Architectural Collection
Marion Sims Wyeth [1889-1982] established himself as one of Palm Beach’s foremost architects with over 100 residences in the town to his credit. Born in New York, Wyeth was a 1910 graduate of Princeton University and then was a student at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris until he graduated in 1914. He served a year as the secretary to the American Ambassador in Rome, and then was associated with architectural offices of Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue and later with Carrere and Hastings in New York City. Wyeth opened his Palm Beach office in 1919. After completing the original Good Samaritan Hospital in West Palm Beach, Wyeth designed a number of houses, including houses for Clarence Geist and Mr. and Mrs. Edward F. Hutton. The Huttons asked Wyeth to be their architect for Mar-A-Lago, but before Wyeth finished the plans, another architect, Joseph Urban, was brought in to complete the detailed designs. Wyeth later designed some alterations and additions to Mara-A-Lago, including the ballroom, where Mrs. Post her held famous square dances. Wyeth’s largest Palm Beach house was the residence of James F. Donahue, located just north of Mar-A-Lago on South Ocean Boulevard.
From 1920, Wyeth shared a New York office with Frederic Rhinelander King, a friend from his student days in Paris, until 1934 when they formalized the relationship with the Wyeth and King partnership. William Royster Johnson joined Wyeth’s Palm Beach office as a draftsman in 1924. In 1944 he became a partner and the firm name changed to Wyeth, King and Johnson.
In a career that spanned over fifty years, houses designed by Wyeth can be found on almost every street in Palm Beach. Among his commissions were the rectory of Bethesda-by-the-Sea, Florida’s Governor’s Mansion in Tallahassee, and the Norton Gallery of Art. In 1954 he became a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects, and in 1981 he received an award for architecture “that stood the test of time” from the Palm Beach Chapter of the AIA. Marion Sims Wyeth retired from active practice in 1973 and died in Good Samaritan Hospital in Palm Beach on February 7, 1982.
Belford Shoumate Architectural Collection
Belford Wren Shoumate [1903-1991] was born and educated in Mobile, Alabama. He received his architectural training from the University of Pennsylvania, where he studied with Paul Philippe Cret. After graduating in 1930, Shoumate worked for architects in Mobile and Philadelphia. He also worked in New York City for Joseph Urban.
Shoumate arrived in West Palm Beach, Florida in 1936 and became licensed as an architect in 1937. He practiced his profession for 54 years from an office in his home, which was located in Phipps Plaza (known as Architects’ Row). Shoumate’s most celebrated designs included Bermuda, Colonial and Art Deco styles, which assisted in shaking Palm Beach from the very prevalent Mediterranean Revival standard. One of the first buildings he designed in South Florida was an art deco/art modern residence named “The House of the Future” at the 1939 World’s Fair.
Shoumate became very interested and active in the preservation of Palm Beach’s architectural heritage and presided over and contributed to the organizational efforts of preservation committees, including that of The Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach. By the time Belford Shoumate died in 1991 at the age of 88, he had worked on more than 1500 buildings.
The archives of The Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach house a collection of over 10,000 of Shoumate’s architectural drawings and renderings, which were donated by his sons.
Henry Harding Architectural Collection
Henry Knowles Harding [1904-1984] was born December 20, 1904 in Dedham, Massachusetts. His family began wintering in Palm Beach during the roaring 20’s in a home at 560 South Ocean Boulevard. In 1928 Harding earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Architecture from Princeton University. He then attained a post graduate degree from the Fountainbleu School in Paris during the summer of 1928 and in 1930 was awarded a Bachelor of Arts in Architecture from the University of Pennsylvania.
After studying at New York University, Harding moved to Palm Beach in 1935 where he apprenticed with the firm of Wyeth, King & Johnson, and also with Howard Major. In 1936 Harding opened his own architectural office, first in the Phipps Plaza Building. He later moved to the Royal Poinciana Plaza where he practiced for the remainder of his professional career.
Harding was a gifted aesthetic designer. His designs were mainly modified Neo-classical, with incorporated Bermuda and British Colonial themes. His style was described as “restrained formality”- simple, direct symmetrical facades with emphasis on balance, proportion and ornamental detail. The most notable Harding works include the St. Mary’s Hospital buildings in West Palm Beach and over 400 homes and villas in Palm Beach and Manalapan. Harding died in North Carolina at the age of 79.
The archives at The Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach contain over 150 jobs and nearly 300 photographs of Henry Knowles Harding’s work, which were donated by his daughter in 1998.