Designed by Fort Lauderdale’s premier architect Francis Luis Abreu, the 6,500 square foot house was built in 1925 for John Wesley Needham, the first manager of the Broward Hotel. It was one of five houses Abreu built on the New River during the 1925 “boom” period. At one time the house belonged to Sheriff Walter Clark of Kefaufer hearing fame. Clark entertained such notables as Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill at the house. In later years the house was known as the John Robert Powers Modeling School and at another point in its history, Gordon College, a “girls’ finishing school.”
The house was designed in the then-fashionable Mediterranean Revival style. Other Abreu buildings in Fort Lauderdale include the Riverside Hotel built in 1936, St. Anthony’s School, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, and the Moroccan-style Casablanca Cafe, a 1920s era home converted to a restaurant located at 3049 Alhambra Street on Fort Lauderdale Beach. In addition to creating some of Fort Lauderdale’s grandest homes and public buildings, Abreu also designed the Casino Swimming Pool in 1928 and the Sailboat Bend Fire Station that was recently restored.
“Much of the house is original, from the wrought-iron stairway banisters, Cuban Tile floors and Pecky Cypress ceilings in the family room to the beveled glass in the floor to ceiling doors in the living room,” as Sandy Romanovitz proudly pointed out. Sandy and her husband Drew are the current owners of the Historic Needham Estate.