source : https://www.prhbds.org/san-juan/2014/6/21/hotel-normandie
Puerto Rico Historic Buildings Drawings Society – Mission
Puerto Rico Historic Buildings Drawings Society exists to promote Puerto Rico’s spectacular historic environment and ensure that its past is researched and understood.
Text by : Johnny Torres Rivera
Normandie Hotel (1939) Puerta de Tierra, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Designed by: Raúl Reichard (1908-1996)
Hotel Normandie design had its inspiration in the steamer Normandie, a jewel from the French shipyards. The most striking and majestic of the Normandie was his town, whose slender bow with sinuous curves formed an acute angle that made it very different from existing ships and gave a way aerodynamics which, in addition to beauty, provided it faster navigation. During the period in which the architect Francisco Valines Cofresí was appointed first architect in charge of developing the Luis Muñoz Rivera Park scheme, was commissioned to make a preliminary project for a hotel in Puerta de Tierra « Barrio San Gerónimo ». This blueprint into which then it would become in the hands of the architect Raúl Reichard in Hotel Normandie and then built in 1939 by Félix Benítez Rexach. This building is an excellent example of the Art Deco style on the island.
En hommage à sa femme française, MOINEAU, Benítez décide de construire une structure qui imite la configuration du prodigieux transatlantique
Hotel Normandie was the idea of the Puerto Rican engineer Félix Benítez. The engineer met his future wife, while a trip aboard the SS Normandie. As a tribute to his French wife, MOINEAU, Benítez decided to build a structure that imitated the configuration of the prodigious transatlantic. Designed by architect Raúl Reichard (1908-1996), the hotel began its construction in 1938. The shape of the building with slightly inclined walls remembered you the silhouette of the SS Normandie, so Benitez Rexach ordered the contractor – Dominican engineer José A. Iglesias – which added you three floors to the hotel and also a few balconies, by way of bridge, on the top floor.
Félix Benítez Rexach and Luccienne Suzanne Dhotelle, alias Moineau, was part of the attraction of the new hotel Normandie. The couple had an apartment on the top floor, which were used when they were returning to the island of his travels by the Caribbean and the Mediterranean. Moineau was an exceptional woman who shocked the ladies of the capital society with her habits: she wore pants, smoked and drank; and lived with the same intensity of other destructive beings of the Archetypes of the feminine, as María Félix and Edith Piaf.
The Normandie Hotel was one of the few luxury hotels that existed that time on the island. Its facilities were carried out social and political activities that make this building one of great historic and sentimental value for several generations of Puerto Ricans.
Les salles principales étaient décorées de plâtres polychromes, de carreaux, de lampes, de meubles en acajou, de peintures murales, de miroirs et de toutes sortes de motifs dans le style Art Déco
Its forms represented the movement, modernism and technology. The interior was decorated with Egyptian-inspired motifs: Lotus Flower capitals, murals with scenes from Egypt and frieze with the motive of zigzag, all richly polychrome and decorated with gold leaf details. Egypt is a common theme of inspiration for Art Deco. The main halls were decorated with polychrome plasterwork, tiles, lamps, mahogany furniture, murals, mirrors and all sorts of motifs in the Art Deco style. The lavishness of the Golden Hall, silver Salon and the Salon Victoria caused that the building was described as a Palace.Between 1939 and 1942, artists from France, Spain, Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico participated in the construction of the Normandie Hotel, whose cost was estimated at $2,000,000. The official opening was on October 10, 1942.
In its urban setting, the building is distinguished by an awesome neon sign that announces, showing in all his glory his name. The structure was remodeled in recent years and maintains its historical use with some modifications. Its scale and architectural style distinguish it as a landmark at the entrance to the San Juan islet. The Normandie Hotel was included on August 29, 1980 in the national register of historic places. Its location pay its importance since it makes this building a visual landmark at the entrance of the San Juan islet.
By: Johnny Torres Rivera