Paradise Lost:

How is it that three Lauderdale
Masterpieces ended up in landfills?

ARTIST JOHN DeGROOT, (1915-1995) was an exceptionally talented, Fort Lauderdale-based artist. DeGroot got his start conceptualizing and painting WPA-era murals during the 1930s. His first, entitled The Great Road was finished in 1939 for the city of Christiansburg, Virginia. His work was known for its fantastic sense of movement and its mastery of color. His mural for a Fort Lauderdale hot nightspot called The Radio Club was a Jazz-Age masterpiece that met its demise when the club was demolished to make way for The Reef, a supper club built for Fred Franke in 1956. 

Franke commissioned DeGroot as well who dreamt up a stunning, Haitian-inspired mural, entitled Bamboche to grace the M. Tony Sherman-designed club. Alas, this too has been demolished for ––– what else ––– a parking lot. 

The Egrets, a massive mosaic by John DeGroot, which graced the west façade of the Cumberland Building on E. Broward Boulevard.

But the saddest loss has to be The Egrets. As the artist neared 70, he was asked to create a massive mural for the exterior of the Cumberland Building on E. Broward. Five stories high and created from tiny mosaic tile, it depicted a slice of Florida life, stylized White Egrets flying over water. By 2010, it needed a partial restoration. Instead of a loving repair, the building’s parsimonious owners had the 1,000 square foot mosaic scraped off the wall and discarded.