The Landmarks Preservation Commission in Palm Beach approved a new set of renovations for the historic Colony hotel at its recent monthly meeting.
In a unanimous vote on July 20, commissioners granted a certificate of appropriateness for renovations that include new awnings at the ground floor and penthouse levels, new chillers and a new cooling tower that will be placed in the hotel’s existing mechanical enclosure.
Commissioners also approved the hotel’s request for a setback variance, which the Town Council will review at its August meeting.
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The renovations are among numerous improvements that are being planned for The Colony, a landmarked structure that was purchased in 2016 by Sarah Wetenhall and her husband, Andrew.
A project begun last month will center on redesigning the interiors of the hotel’s 89 rooms and suites, although other areas including hallways, the pool patio, an entertainment space and the building’s trademark pink exterior will be “refreshed,” Sarah Wetenhall told the Daily News in June.
The hotel closed last month ahead of the planned renovations, and is expected to reopen in early October — just shy of the hotel’s 75th birthday in November.
“I’m just very happy with the fact that all of this work is being done at The Colony,” Landmarks commissioner Jackie Albarran said Wednesday. “It’s such a magnificent piece of history for all of us who have been here.”
The hotel was designed in the British Colonial style by the architectural firm of Simonson & Holley, and built in 1946-47, during the town’s second building boom.
The Colony is on Hammon Avenue, which was named for the property’s original landowner, Hiram F. Hammon, one of the earliest pioneer settlers in Palm Beach. Hammon arrived in what would become Palm Beach in 1874, and was the first person to file a homestead on Lake Worth, which became part of Midtown Palm Beach.
In 1921, Hammon sold the property that would become the site of The Colony to William Waller Jr., and his wife, Lucia. Just months after buying the land from Hammon, the Wallers built a large Spanish villa named Casa Manana, which now houses The Colony’s Villas apartments at 152 Hammon Ave.
Following World War II, Florida experienced massive economic and demographic growth, ushering in Palm Beach’s greatest construction period.
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Tourists were flocking to Florida, and The Colony, trumpeted as “Palm Beach’s first post-war hotel,” was built by Golf View Hotel Inc. to fulfill a growing demand by winter visitors for resort hotels, according to the town.
The exterior of The Colony’s main hotel building remains largely unchanged from its original construction. One of the few additions is the “mushroom columns,” which are the distinctive inverted triangle pillars, added in the late 1950s, that support the ceiling of Swifty’s interior dining room.
The hotel was granted landmark designation by the council in January 2020.
Jodie Wagner is a journalist at the Palm Beach Daily News, part of the USA TODAY Florida Network. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Help support our journalism. Subscribe today.