Félix Benítez Rexach

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Félix Benítez Rexach
Born March 27, 1886
Vieques, Puerto Rico
Died November 2, 1975
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Nationality Puerto Rican
Occupation Engineer and architect
Movement Puerto Rican Independence
Spouse(s) Lucienne Dhotelle
Designed the Normandie Hotel
View of the Normandie Hotel from Muñoz Rivera Avenue

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


Born in Vieques, Benítez Rexach met Lucienne Dhotelle, a native of France better known as La Môme Moineau[1] while on board the French ocean liner SS Normandie. The couple fell in love and soon married.

Normandie Hotel

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.

Other works

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).[3]

Political beliefs

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."[3]


See also


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