Philip Hanson Hiss (1910-1988) was born in Brooklyn, New York. At the age of 20, Hiss independently toured South America on his Harley-Davidson motorcycle and in the 1930s sailed around the world. As an amateur anthropologist and photographer, Hiss published books describing the customs, art and architecture of Bali (1941) and the Dutch Antilles (1943). Following World War II military service, Hiss first worked in the US diplomatic service in Holland and then settled in Sarasota in 1948.
Beginning in 1949, Hiss began developing the Lido Shores neighborhood of Lido Key, Sarasota, initially using architects Ralph and William Zimmerman. Later, Hiss would commission Paul Rudolph to design the model house for Lido Shores, the famous “Umbrella House” (1953). In 1956, Hiss became Chairman of the Sarasota County School Board, and proceeded to commission new schools from the Zimmermans, Rudolph and fellow Sarasota School architects Mark Hampton, Gene Leedy, Victor Lundy and William Rupp. In 1958, Hiss received a Ford Foundation grant to establish New College, and served on its first Board of Trustees. Hiss left Sarasota in 1965 and died in London in 1988.
FUN FACT: Hiss was the cousin of accused Soviet spy Alger Hiss (1904-1996).