Island Follies: Romantic Homes of the Bahamas; The Tropical Architecture of Henry Melich

Rizzoli Sept. 2022. 256p. ISBN 9780847872084. $60. ARCH
Gordon, who’s written regularly for magazines about architecture and design, wonderfully showcases the architectural impact Henry Melich made in the Bahamas, where he spent 30 years. Melich favored follies, ornate structures that are mostly decorative: Xanadu’s sphinxes, obelisk, and breezeway; Waterloo’s half-round portico; and La Feuillie’s faux Roman ruins are exquisite examples. Readers who love design will devour this book’s sumptuous photographs. Loggias, terraces, and plantation shutters appear in tropical colors—coral pink, parchment yellow, leaf green, and hibiscus. Some of his more creative follies include the secret writing room he devised for Rosanna Todd and the turrets for Ferguson Castle. Some of his structures served a practical purpose too. Tivoli’s classical pavilions adorned with cloisonné horses hid its pool’s maintenance mechanisms. This book also mentions Melich’s clients, most of them heirs and heiresses, who craved a curious hybrid of Roman antiquity and Bahamian flair. Delightful anecdotes about Doris Duke, Pamela Woolworth, and Sibilla O’Donnell abound.
VERDICT A valuable survey of Melich’s best island projects, which also captures his stories, passion, and singular eye for beauty.
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