New owners have acquired The Raleigh, a beachfront Art Deco landmark hotel in the South Beach section of Miami Beach.
The eight-story, 105-room hotel at 1775 Collins Avenue was built in 1940. It is noted for its elegant split-level lobby punctuated by lofty columns, and a conical lifeguard tower overlooking a free-form pool where movie and synchronized swimming star Esther Williams performed.
The trade publication Hotel Business reports that The Raleigh was purchased by a joint venture involving David Edelstein, owner of the W Hotel in Miami Beach; and Sam Nazarian, chairman of sbe and its subsidiary, SLS Hotels, which will manage The Raleigh. Edelstein and Nazarian paid $55 million. The previous owner was a local private-equity firm, the Brilla Group, which bought the hotel for $30 million in 2009.
The Raleigh is located within easy walking distance of the Bass Museum of Art, the Miami Beach Botanical Garden, the Miami Beach Convention Center, the Lincoln Road Mall, and the New World Symphony Park.
The Raleigh Hotel’s architect, L. Murray Dixon, was one of the most prolific designers of South Beach structures in the 1930s and early 1940s.
Dixon was born in Live Oak, Florida, on February 16, 1901. He attended the Georgia Institute of Technology in 1918-1919, but did not complete his architectural education.
From 1923 to 1929, he worked in New York with Schultze and Weaver, the prominent firm that designed the Freedom Tower in Miami (1925), the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables (1926), and The Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach (1926).
In 1929, Dixon relocated to South Florida, where he designed more than 300 structures in Miami Beach, including The Atlantis, The Grossinger (now The Ritz Plaza), The Marlin, The Senator, The Tides, The Tiffany, and The Victor hotels, as well as numerous apartment buildings.
He died in New York City on October 8, 1949.
War and peace
The Raleigh was among 41 hotels with a total of 2,789 rooms built on Miami Beach between 1940 and 1942, a period called “Boom over Miami.” This frenzy of recreational construction ended with the outbreak of World War II, when the government requisitioned many of the South Beach hotels to house troops brought to Miami for training.
After the war, The Raleigh became a Kosher hotel and the ball room was used as a synagogue.
Today it has a reputation as an idyllic boutique hotel, and hosts events such as Mercedes Benz Swim Week, the Chanel Fashion Show, and exclusive Art Basel parties.
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