Long live the king!
Antonin Nechodoma was born in Prague (then part of Bohemia) in 1877. In 1887, Nechodoma's family emigrated to Chicago where he worked as a contractor. In 1905, Nechodoma, already an architect, arrived in Puerto Rico after working for a short period in Florida. In Puerto Rico (1905-1928), Nechodoma became one of the most prominent architects in the Caribbean. His work included private and public buildings: banks, schools, markets, churches and houses. His practice extended to the Dominican Republic where he built the main 'glorieta' in the Parque Independencia in Santo Domingo and the Market in San Pedro de Macoris.
Nechodoma's work has been surrounded by controversy. His architectural style varied widely, from Neo-Classical Style for public school buildings, Gothic and Mission Style for his churches and Prairie Style in his houses. The most controversial aspect of Nechodoma's work has been his plagiarism of Frank Lloyd Wright's residential work. Architectural historians Jorge Rigau, Enrique Vivoni Farage, and Nechodoma's biographer, Thomas Marvel have discussed extensively Nechodoma's direct use of Wright's Wasmuth Portfolio as a reference for his residential work in Puerto Rico.
Despite the controversy, Nechodoma made significant contributions to the architecture of Puerto Rico and the Caribbean. His integration of arts and crafts motifs to his architecture, ranging from furniture design, ironwork, stained glass, and mosaics, had an enormous influence in the Caribbean architecture of the early 20th century. His prolific production left a wealth of first class public buildings in both the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, notable because of their technical innovations and their contribution toward forming a language of tropical architecture in the Caribbean. Nechodoma's work was published extensively during his lifetime. He also published in 1927 an important article on architecture in Puerto Rico entitled "Concering Architecture in Puerto Rico".
Nechodoma died in a car related accident in 1928.
In 1905, Nechodoma returned to Puerto Rico, having being contracted a few years before by famous sugarcane owner and businessman Antonio Roig, to build a mansion for Roig in Humacao. The house would become Nechodoma's most famous and talked about construction. Roig was also a banker; Roig Bank is currently owned by Banco Popular, and Mr. Roig wanted a very well done house for him and his family.
Nechodoma created a house with wide roofs overlooking the entrance, multiple levels (a rarity in the Puerto Rico of that era), and other amenities.
The house, which is nowadays considered by critics to be one of Puerto Rico's greatest cultural achievements, is now a museum.