Félix Benítez Rexach

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Félix Benítez Rexach
Félix Bénitez Rexach et La môme Moineau Lucienne Dhotelle.jpg
Félix Bénitez Rexach with his wife
Born March 27, 1886
Vieques, Puerto Rico
Died November 2, 1975
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Nationality Puerto Rican
Occupation Engineer and businessman
Known for Building the Normandie Hotel
Movement Puerto Rican Independence
Spouse(s) Lucienne Dhotelle
View of the Normandie Hotel from Muñoz Rivera Avenue

Félix Benítez Rexach[note 1] (March 27, 1886 – November 2, 1975) was a Puerto Rican engineer and businessman who built the Normandie Hotel, located in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Life and career[edit]

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"),[1] while on board the French ocean liner SS Normandie. The couple fell in love and married in 1929.

Normandie Hotel[edit]

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[2] 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.

Bridges[edit]

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).[3]

Other works[edit]

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).[4]

Political beliefs[edit]

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."[4]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ This name uses Spanish naming customs: the first or paternal family name is Benítez and the second or maternal family name is Rexach.

References[edit]

External links[edit]