Félix Benítez Rexach
Félix Benítez Rexach
Félix Bénitez Rexach with his wife
|Born||March 27, 1886|
|Died||November 2, 1975|
|Occupation||Engineer and businessman|
|Known for||Building the Normandie Hotel|
|Movement||Puerto Rican Independence|
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Flag of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party
Life and career
Born in Vieques, Benítez Rexach met Lucienne Dhotelle, a French singer better known as La Môme Moineau (a nickname that can be translated as "the kid sparrow"), while on board the French ocean liner SS Normandie. The couple fell in love and married in 1929.
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.
Rexach designed and/or built a number of Puerto Rico's historic bridges, including the "futuristic" Bridge No. 122 and Las Cabanas Bridge (both of those being joint works with designer Rafael Nones).
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 in the Puerto Rican independence movement and once visited Luis A. Ferré, the pro-statehood Governor of Puerto Rico, at the governor's 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."
- French Wikipedia article about La Môme Moineau
- "Puerta de Tierra: Hotel Normandie". Archived from the original on June 30, 2008. Retrieved 2007-06-10.
- Luis F. Pumarada O'Neill (July 31, 1994). "Historic Bridges of Puerto Rico, c. 1840 - 1950". National Park Service. Retrieved 2016-05-13.
- Felix Benítez Rexach
- "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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