A Short Story of Casablanca Café

Jova House, now home of Casablanca Café, was built in 1927 for its original owner, Mrs. J.J. Jova. The two-story masonry dwelling, commissioned by Juan Jacinto Jova, was designed by architect Francis L. Abreu, Jova’s grandson. It was the first home constructed on Fort Lauderdale Beach and is its oldest remaining structure.

Abreu, the son of Spanish and American parents, grew up in Cuba and graduated from Cornell University. He set up his architectural practice in Fort Lauderdale in 1924.During the late 1920’s, Abreu became one of the area’s most sought-after architects. He designed numerous commercial and public structures in both Florida and Sea Island, Georgia. Jova House is one of only a few remaining examples of his work in Fort Lauderdale.

Designed in Mediterranean Revival architecture, the house is an eclectic blend of architectural elements of Spanish and Middle Eastern origins. Details include flat roofs, arched openings supported by square columns, stucco exterior walls, massive offset chimney stacks, double-hung windows, ceramic tile decorations and round towers with conical roofs.

A renovation of the home started in July of 1993 and took almost two years to complete. The owner’s desire was to preserve the beautiful structure in its original architectural style. Casablanca Café has kept the feel of the original house by incorporating the original working fireplace, wooden ceiling beams, spiral staircase and terrazzo floors. The wall crests and the roof tiles have been replicated and the new tiles were imported from Guatemala.

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