The Maitland Art Center brings a touch of ancient Mayan architecture to an otherwise typical Central Florida residential neighborhood.
The town of Maitland is extremely lucky to have beautiful sunsets. André Smith fell in love with them abandoning his sojourn to Miami. Consequently his greatest achievement lies in the unlikely location of Maitland, Florida.
Jules André Smith’s vision is a jewel.
André Smith, an American artist, architect, and author, founded an artists’ colony, known as the Maitland Research Center, in 1937. Smith desired warm weather for his retirement. Leaving Connecticut with Miami in mind, he was moved by the sunsets seen in Central Florida. As a result, he went no further. While here he met Mary Louise Curtis Bok, a local patron of the arts. She financed the building of a research laboratory and residences to house well-known artists for winter visits. Doris Lee, Milton Avery, and Sally Michel Avery were three of such artists.
Smith designed the compound as a type of Fantasy Architecture. The flat-roofed structures and decoration are reminiscent of Mayan and Aztec design. Smith, a prolific artist, worked through his retirement years creating set designs, drawing, etching, and engraving. Smith designed the numerous cast and carved concrete sculptures decorating the research studio. He carved some of them himself. The compound features 22 buildings, hidden gardens, pathways, courtyards, and water features. The center is only a few miles from my home, however; I feel transported to another place entirely once inside.
An open-air chapel and gardens await discovery across the street.
The Maitland Research Center fell into disrepair after Smith’s death. Fortunately the city of Maitland bought the property renaming it the Maitland Art Center. Both the state and national registry of historic sites list the center. Currently this local treasure still serves as a residential work space as well as a popular wedding and party destination. If you find yourself in Central Florida, don’t miss this spectacular piece of Florida history.
Casa V Interiors can create a unique jewel for your home.