Architecturally speaking, Bermuda style is an adaptation of British Colonial style, and it’s built to suit tropical climates like ours. It’s a style based in necessity: Bermuda has no source of groundwater so fresh water is collected from rainfall that runs off steeply pitched white roofs into collection cisterns. Pastel exteriors reflect the heat of the beating sun. Other traits include triangular-capped chimneys, dark green shutters, and lines that mimic the wide horizon. It’s no wonder some of Palm Beach’s most beloved architects embraced the Bermudan aesthetic. These three landmarked homes stand as examples of this storied style.
Shoumate Home and Office
Architect: Belford Shoumate
Key dates: Built in 1940; designated as a landmark in 1982.
Find it: Phipps Plaza
The details: Shoumate designed this Bermuda-style residence for himself and his wife, Betsy. He lived and worked there until his death in 1991. Each wing of the house is flanked by a small pavilion or buttery—a typical Bermudan feature—and separated by an open courtyard.
Architect: John Volk
Key dates: Built in 1936; designated as a landmark in 1990.
Find it: South County Road
The details: The Great Depression prompted Volk to develop new approaches to his designs that were economical as well as aesthetically pleasing. He designed White Gables for himself and lived there for 10 years. It was Volk’s first house designed in the Bermuda style.
Architect: Howard Major
Key dates: Built in 1925; designated as a landmark in 1979.
Find it: Peruvian Avenue
The details: Major named this alley after himself and established an office there. The complex is a series of six attached apartments, each with its own private courtyard. It’s a prime example of the Bermuda style, which Major believed was preferable to Mediterranean Revival in South Florida.
Marie Penny is the director of archives for the Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach.