Rovensky Building, 1992.
Singer Building (now Rovensky Building), ca. 1925-1935.
John E. Rovensky Building
When The Four Arts' was first founded, it operated out of the Singer Building, a combined office and apartment building Addison Mizner (1872-1933) built for Paris Singer in 1925 (see bottom image). Singer, the 22nd of 24 children of inventor and industrialist Isaac Singer of the Singer Sewing Machine Company, was an early resident of Palm Beach and a friend of the architect. Singer is responsible for Mizner settling in Florida; in 1918, he suggested Mizner visit Palm Beach for his health and Mizner decided to stay. His Mediterranean and Spanish Colonial Revival buildings deeply influenced the architecture of South Florida.
After a scandal involving real estate fraud charges, Singer left Florida in 1928. Palm Beach resident Colonel Edward R. Bradley, a businessman, philanthropist, and a self-proclaimed "speculator, race horse breeder, and gambler," acquired the Singer Building. It was Col. Bradley who generously donated vacant commercial spaces in the building to The Four Arts as an operational and programming space. Upon Bradley's death in 1946, Byron D. Miller purchased the property and hired architect John Volk (1901-1984) to renovate it, after which it was called the Embassy Apartment Building. Volk moved to Florida in 1925 during the real estate boom and had a successful practice, designing over 2,000 projects during his 60 years in Palm Beach.
From the 1940s through the 1980s, the Embassy Apartment Building was one of the finest addresses in Palm Beach for luxury rental apartments. In 1992, a donation from Mrs. Robert M. Grace made it possible for The Four Arts to buy it from Miller's estate. The Four Arts hired architect Howarth (Hap) L. Lewis Jr. and general contractor Conkling and Lewis Construction, Inc. to remodel the building to serve as the main administrative staff offices and a Children's Library. It was named the John E. Rovensky Building in honor of Mrs. Grace's father, a distinguished banker who had retired in Palm Beach and who served for many years as a member of the Palm Beach Town Council.
NOTE: This building is open to the public year-round.