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John L. Volk

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John L. Volk

John L. Volk (1901-1984) was born in Graz, Austria, and immigrated with his family as a child; he grew up in New York City, the son of an “architectural woodworker.” After receiving architectural degrees from l’École des Beaux Arts in Paris and Columbia University in New York, Volk came to Palm Beach in the mid-1920s, when Addison Mizner was the architect of choice.

Volk’s first five residential contracts were in the Old Northwood district of West Palm Beach, but he became one of the architects known for Palm Beach’s signature style in the 1920s. His residential clients included the families of Vanderbilt, DuPont, Ford, Dodge, and Pulitzer. As the Mizner period came to an end, Volk became known for his versatility and great sense of proportion, as displayed in the Georgian-Revival style Windsong (1939) on El Vedado Road. Volk’s White Gables (1936) at 598 South County Road was the first Bermuda-style home on Palm Beach, where he lived with his first wife, Beatrice Taylor Volk, for about ten years. After he married Lillian Jane Kinney in 1947, they moved into a house in Phipps Plaza. In 1958 they had a son, John Kinney Volk.

It has been estimated that Volk’s office designed more than 1,000 buildings; many were for public or commercial use, such as Good Samaritan Hospital, the Bath and Tennis Club, Palm Beach Town Hall, Poinciana Plaza and Playhouse, much of Worth Avenue, and at least one department store on Clematis Street. Volk served as architect-engineer to restore the Breakers after its use as an army hospital during World War II. In 1947 Volk redesigned the Embassy Club on Royal Palm Way into the Society of the Four Arts building. Volk was a member of the Palm Beach Landmarks Preservation Commission that works to save the work of all architects of note. The John L. Volk Foundation was established in 1998 to preserve his legacy and support architectural scholarships.

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