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Howard Brougham Major


Howard Brougham Major

Howard Brougham Major (1882–1974) was born in New York, the grandson of a lithographer and the son of a printer’s artist. Major studied at the New York Atelier of Beaux-Arts and as chief draftsman for architect Charles Alonzo Rich, he designed a building at Dartmouth College and country houses for Long Island socialites. He opened his own firm on Fifth Avenue and married Katherine Clark (1899-1958) in 1920, with whom he traveled overseas during most of 1920 and 1921.

Major began work with Addison Mizner’s Worth Avenue office in 1923 and moved his wife and son to Palm Beach in 1925. Although he is considered one of the architects that created Old Palm Beach or Mediterranean Revival style, Major preferred Georgian style, as he had seen it adapted in the British West Indies, as more appropriate for the Palm Beach climate. On Peruvian Avenue, Major created six small Bermuda-style row houses known as Major Alley and lived in one of them; he built offices nearby when he left Mizner’s firm. Major published Domestic Architecture of the Early American Republic: The Greek Revival in 1926 and wrote a series of articles for The Palm Beach Post, “How to Recognize Spanish Architecture,” in 1928.

In the 1930s the Majors resumed extensive travel, as Rich and Mizner had done to be inspired and to purchase furnishings. After the Depression, Major’s more subdued style became more popular when showplaces may have been considered in poor taste. Many examples of Major’s residential work were protected by the Palm Beach Landmarks Preservation Commission, including 235 Banyan Road, 124 Via Bethesda, 745 Hi-Mount Road, 270 Queens Lane, 135 El Vedado Road, 224 and 228 Phipps Plaza, and 421 Peruvian Avenue.

The first Palm Beach house to be landmarked, the Vicarage on Lake Trail built in 1897, was renovated by Major in 1929, and the Majors lived there. In 1960 Major married Mrs. Dorothy Underhill, a widow.

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