August Geiger, Architect
Born in New Haven, Connecticut in 1887, August Geiger began vacationing in the Miami area with his family around 1899. After completing his formal education at Boardman's Manual Training School, he decided to study architecture, and secured a position with a New Haven firm. In 1905, Geiger moved his permanent residence to Miami, working for a local architectural firm for six years before opening his own practice in 1911.
He experimented with a number of architectural styles, includ-ing the Mission, Italian Renaissance, and Art Deco; he is best known, however, for introducing the Spanish Colonial (also called Mediterranean Revival) style to the area with his design for the Miami City Hospital, locally referred to as "the Alamo." The hospital and the Geiger-designed Miami Beach Municipal Golf Course House, built in 1916, were similar in design. According to the Metropolitan Dade County Office of Community and Economic Development, Historic Preservation Division:
- St. Francis Hospital, 250 W 63rd Street, Miami Beach, was built in 1924 in the Mediterranean style, although the building had been “greatly altered” by 1982.
- Carl Fisher Residence (1925), Fisher’s second house on Miami Beach. Located in the 5000 block of North Bay Road. It was constructed in the Neo-Classical style after villas of the Italian Renaissance. The house originally included a large rectangular tower from which Fisher could look out over Miami Beach.
- The 1925 Book of Florida reports that Geiger constructed “the Maison des Beaux Arts Building on Lincoln Road to provide ideal shops for the beach.” Located within the Art Deco District, it was built in the early 1920s.
- It is reported that Geiger designed the Allison Hospital, a three-story building in the “Spanish Style” that opened on January 1, 1926. (This might be the same building as the St. Francis Hospital, described above.)
- The Ida M. Fisher Junior High School, 1424 Drexel Avenue in Miami Beach, was constructed in 1936 as the Miami Beach Senior High School. The Mediterranean style building was designed by Geiger and constructed by the Public Works Administration (PWA).
- North Beach Elementary School, 711 Arthur Godfrey Road, Miami Beach, was constructed in 1936.
- Addition to the Central Beach Elementary School, Drexel Avenue in Miami Beach, now integrated into the Fisher-Fienberg school complex.
(1887 - 1968)
"In both buildings, Geiger employed a classical sense of design through elements like scale, proportion and symmetry, befitting the architects Beaux Arts training. These elements were expressed in a Spanish idiom of applied stucco ornaments, arcaded ground floor loggia and a tile roof. Not truly Spanish, the style was inspired rather by the architecture of California, Texas and New Mexico during the years of Spanish territoriality. Geiger had actually created the earliest traceable example of Spanish Colornial Revival architecture in Miami."
Geiger's designs were popular with many of the wealthy industrial class that enjoyed vacationing in southern Florida, and his firm built many of their winter homes in and around Miami Beach. In addition, the Geiger firm designed churches, commercial buildings, and hotels, including The Lincoln, Carl Fisher's first hotel on Miami Beach.
Geiger also served as the architect of the Dade County School Board; as such, he designed several of the county's schools.
A partial listing of Geiger-designed buildings includes:
- Neva Cooper School, built as the Homestead Public School in 1914. It is located at 520 NW 1st Avenue in Homestead. The school is listed on the National Register.
- Lincoln Hotel, constructed in 1914 or 1916 at the SW corner of present Washington Avenue and Lincoln Road. The 32-room hotel, which was modeled on Italian Renaissance buildings, opened on January 20, 1917. By 1921, it was considered "too rustic" by Fisher, and closed.
- The Clubhouse of the Miami Beach Municipal Golf Course (1915), 2100 Washington Avenue.This is the oldest building standing on Miami Beach. It is believed to be the first use of the Mediterranean style on the Beach, and one of the first ever in the Miami area.
The Hindu Temple
- The Hindu Temple was a home built for Miami merchant John Seybold in 1920. Seybold was inspired to request the house from Geiger by a similar structure built as part of a movie set on the same site, 870 NW 11th Street, Miami.