Félix Benítez Rexach
|Félix Benítez Rexach|
|Born||March 27, 1886
Vieques, Puerto Rico
|Died||November 2, 1975
San Juan, Puerto Rico
|Occupation||Engineer and architect|
|Movement||Puerto Rican Independence|
Designed the Normandie Hotel
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Flag of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party
Born in Vieques, Benítez Rexach met Lucienne Dhotelle, a native of France better known as La Môme Moineau while on board the French ocean liner SS Normandie. The couple fell in love and soon married.
Benítez Rexach had fond memories of the liner and decided to surprise his wife with the construction of a yacht as a replica of the majestic ship. Moineau wasn't satisfied and Benítez Rexach decided then to construct a hotel with the form of a great transatlantic vessel. Designed by architect Raúl Reichard (1908–1996), the hotel began construction in 1938. He named the "Normandie Hotel" in honor of the French liner and presented it as a gift to his beloved wife and to the people of Puerto Rico. The hotel opened on October 10, 1942 at an estimated cost of more than US$2,000,000. Many consider it one of the foremost examples of Art Deco architecture in the world.
Benítez Rexach also worked on various projects in the Dominican Republic, as a consequence of the friendship which he had with that country's dictator Rafael L. Trujillo. Among his works in that country were the Port of Santo Domingo and the "Avenida Jorge Washington" (George Washington Avenue).
Benítez Rexach was a passionate Puerto Rican patriot and a personal friend of Pedro Albizu Campos, president of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party. He was a firm believer of the Puerto Rican independence movement, and once visited Luis A. Ferré, the pro-statehood Governor of Puerto Rico, at the governors mansion and asked him to proclaim the independence of Puerto Rico, since in his words,"Puerto Rico was a superior nation and the most developed in the Caribbean."
- "LA MÔME MOINEAU" by Michel Ferracci-Porri 380 pages, published in November 2006 by Editions Normant (ISBN 978-2-915685-28-2) is the first biography of Félix and Moineau Benitez.
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