Florida Historical Markers Programs - Marker: Miami-Dade





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Miami-Dade

THE PERRINE LAND GRANT
Location:U.S. 1 at 16165 S. Dixie Highway
County: Miami-Dade
City: Perrine
Description: In 1838, the United States Congress granted a township of land in the southern extremity of Florida to noted horticulturist Dr. Henry Perrine and his associates. This land was to be used in experiments aimed at introducing foreign tropical plants and seeds into Florida. Although Dr. Perrine did not select a township before his death in 1840, he indicated the area he preferred, and his family later selected the land which came to be called the Perrine Land Grant. Born in 1797, Henry Perrine was trained as a physician. During a visit to Cuba in 1826, he became interested in tropical plants which might be successfully introduced into the southern United States. As American consul in Campeche, Mexico (1827-1838), Dr. Perrine began to send Mexican plants to a friend on Indian Key in Florida and to seek government support for future agricultural experiments. Eager to find a way to utilize the tropical soils of the south, the leaders of Territorial Florida gave their support to Dr. Perrine in the efforts to obtain land for his project which culminated in the grant of 1838. Events of the Second Seminole War made it impossible for Dr. Perrine to settle on the Florida Mainland in 1838. He took his family to Indian Key to care for his plants and await the war's end. On August 7, 1840, Indians attacked the Key, killing Dr. Perrine and six others; his family escaped uninjured. Dr. Perrine deserves recognition as a pioneer whose efforts stimulated interest in tropical agriculture in Florida.
Sponsors: Sponsored by Perrine Cutler Ridge Rotary Club In Cooperation With Department of State
CORAL GABLES HOUSE
Location:907 Coral Way
County: Miami-Dade
City: Coral Gables
Description: In 1899, Dr. Solomon Merrick, a Massachusetts Congregational minister, purchased a 160-acre tract of land located near Miami. Rev. Merrick and his son, George, settled in a log cabin already standing on the property and planted grapefruit and vegetables on their land. The rest of the Merrick family soon came to live on the Florida property, which they called "Guavonia" after the fruit that grew there. They lived in a newly constructed frame house which was incorporated into the larger home, completed in 1906. Called "Coral Gables", this house was built of native limestone rock quarried from a nearby site, now Venetian Pool. As Merrick's crops prospered, more land was acquired, bringing the plantation to about 1,600 acres where George Merrick envisioned and later developed a new, Mediterranean-style community. It was named "Coral Gables", after the home. In 1966, W.L. Philbrick purchased the house, which had become known as Merrick Manor, and created the Merrick Manor Foundation to maintain the building as a historic site. In 1976, the Foundation donated this home to the people of Coral Gables. Merrick Manor, now known as Coral Gables House, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Sponsors: sponsored by coral gables chapter daughters of the american revolution in cooperation with department of state
THE BARNACLE
Location:3485 Main Highway
County: Miami-Dade
City: Coconut Grove
Description: The Barnacle is one of the oldest homes in Dade County still standing on its original site. It was built in 1891 by Ralph Middleton Munroe, one of Coconut Grove’s most prominent pioneers. He visited South Florida in 1877 and moved to this area in 1881. Commodore Munroe purchased 40 acres of bay front land, including this five acre site. He built the boathouse in 1887 and lived on its upper floor until the main house was completed. In 1894 he married Jenny Wirth. They had two children Patty and Wirth, who were brought up here. This historic site and the original house with its additions were donated to the state of Florida by the Munroe family in 1973.
Sponsors: The Barnacle Society Inc and the Florida Department of State.
ALHAMBRA WATER TOWER
Location:Betweem Ferdinand St. and Alhambra Circle
County: Miami-Dade
City: Coral Gables
Description: This “lighthouse” which has never seen the sea, serves as a testament to Coral Gables’ early boom years, a time when everyday practical things could be turned into works of art. Built c. 1923, its design is credited to Denman Fink, artistic designer for Coral Gables. A steel tank was erected first, and then enclosed with a wood frame and reinforced concrete structure designed to resemble a lighthouse, thus concealing the less attractive water tank behind an aesthetically pleasing and architecturally playful face. Purchased by Consumers Water Company in 1926, the Alhambra Water Tower was part of the City’s domestic water supply system until 1931, when it was disconnected from the system and abandoned after the utility company started buying water from the City of Miami. In response to citizen outcry to save the tower from destruction in 1958, the City purchased it for a token sum, thus preserving this unique landmark. In 1993 the tower was extensively restored based upon 1924 photographs. The Alhambra Water Tower was listed in the Coral Gables Register of Historic Places in 1988.
Sponsors: City of Coral Gables
WOMEN TAKE ACTION IN CORAL GABLES (The Roxcy O'Neal Bolton House)
Location:Alhambra Circle and Madrid
County: Miami-Dade
City: Miami
Description: Built in 1933, this Mediterranean Revival house is a contributing structure in the Coral Gables Plantation Historic District, one of the earliest developments in the city planned by George Merrick. Throughout the late 1960s and the 1970s, this house became a meeting place for those who campaigned for equal rights for women. Resident and pioneer feminist Roxcy O’Neal Bolton opened her home as headquarters to organize numerous rallies and marches and founded the Miami Dade Chapter of the National Organization for Women. In an effort to bring public attention to the special needs of women, organizational meetings were held in this house to establish Women in Distress, the first women’s rescue shelter in Florida, and the Rape Treatment Center at Jackson Memorial Hospital. Community meetings were also held here to create the Citizen’s Crime Watch of Dade County, one of the first of its kind in the country. Under Roxcy Bolton’s leadership, the perseverance of all those who volunteered their time here created a forceful voice for justice for those who would otherwise not be heard.
Sponsors: Coral Gables Historic Preservation Board and the Florida Department of State
CORAL GABLES MERRICK HOUSE
Location:907 Coral Way
County: Miami-Dade
City: Coral Gables
Description: In July 1899, Congregational minister Solomon Greasley Merrick (1859-1911) and his wife Althea (1859-1937) purchased sight unseen the surrounding 160 acres for $1,100. Several months later, Merrick and his son George (1886-1942) came from Massachusetts to prepare an existing wooden cottage for the arrival of the family. Locals including Bahamians helped plant vegetables and grapefruit trees. The vegetables and existing guava trees were their only source of income until the grapefruit groves began to bear. In 1906 Althea designed a rock house including the original cottage that is still visible at the rear. Named “Coral Gables,” its limestone rock came from what is now the Venetian Pool. When his father died, George took over the groves, added land and dreamed of a planned community. It became a reality in 1921 when he sold the first lots. During the Depression, Ethel Merrick, George’s sister, made it a boarding house called Merrick Manor. Members of the Merrick family resided here until 1966, when W.L. Philbrick bought the home and created Merrick Manor Foundation to save it. The City of Coral Gables acquired and restored it in 1976. Coral Gables Merrick House is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
Sponsors: Sons and Daughters of the American Revolution and the Florida Department of State
HAULOVER BEACH SPORT FISHING DOCKS
Location:10800 Collins Ave.
County: Miami-Dade
City: Miami
Description: Side 1: The originally known Lighthouse Dock, once at this site, marked the beginnings of this area’s fame as a sportsman’s paradise. Folklore and history relate that a man named Baker (c. 1810) "hauled over" fishing boats from the bay to the ocean. In 1926, Captain Henry Jones (1883-1968) built the first dock with a permit from the War Department. By 1937-1939, the Lighthouse Restaurant and the Ocean Bay Trailer Park shared this property. These early docks served as the foundation of an international sport fishing tourist industry as charter boat fisherman searched for marlin, sailfish and other big-game fish in Miami's abundant Gulf Stream waters. Adjacent to these docks was an official weighing station of the Metropolitan Miami Fishing Tournament, the oldest and largest fishing contest in the world. Many record catches were certified here. Captains navigated their charters beneath the hazardous Haulover Bridge with its treacherous currents. They also contended with the threat of enemy submarines, just outside the Inlet, from 1942 to 1943. Some captains assumed duties as sub-spotters. A Coast Guard vessel was moored here during World War II to ensure civilian safety, making this a strategic military site at that time. Side 2: In 1944 the Lighthouse Dock became part of the Haulover Beach Park. The Dade County Parks Department assumed management and changed the name to Haulover Beach Docks. In 1951-1952 the docks were replaced by a marina, built farther to the north. Calling these docks home were the captains, their boats, and the only women working as mates for their husbands. The earliest pioneer captains at these docks were: Henry Jones, Henrietta; George Hamway, Popeye; Joe Reese, Ethel Lee; Slim Caraway (Marjorie) Lady Luck; John Sacon (nee Saconchik), Martha Mary; George Helker, Gremlin; Ralph Nemire (Iris), Seacomber; Harry Stone, Oke Doke; Ira Gregory, Lucky Strike; Elsworth Stone, Anhow; W.D. Murphy, Pat; Charles Smith (Mary), Interim; Harold Alford (Jeannette) Privateer; Otto Reichert, Restless; Robert Paterson, Huskee; Frank Kurek, Sportsman; Ernie Luebbers, Mystery; B.C. Millard, Surf King; and Paul Goerner, Vee Gee. Other individuals contributing to the success of the Haulover fishing fleet: Official Dock Photographer, Doris Barnes; Dock/Weigh Masters, Norton/Waggoner; and Taxidermist, Al Pflueger. They recorded the feats of tourists and such celebrities as Hollywood superstar Robert Mitchum and TV host Arthur Godfrey.
Sponsors: MIAMI-DADE PARK AND RECREATION AND THE FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF STATE
ARCH CREEK MILITARY TRAIL
Location:Old Dixie Hwy from 13980 Biscayne Blvd. to Arch Creek Park
County: Miami-Dade
City: Miami
Description: The Arch Creek State Archaeological Site was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1985. It contains a portion of the Military Trail, a wagon road, built during the Third Seminole War (1855-1859) by the U.S. Army. In 1856 Captains Abner Doubleday (1819-1893) and John Brannan and their troops constructed part of the Military Trail between Fort Dallas on the Miami River and Fort Lauderdale. It later became a portion of the first county road in 1892, passing over the Natural Bridge and Arch Creek. In 1915 it was renamed Dixie Highway. The road was designated a local historic site on January 18, 1995.
Sponsors: CITY OF N. MIAMI BEACH, ARCH CREEK TRUST AND THE FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF STATE
MIAMI CITY CEMETERY
Location:1800 NE 2nd Ave
County: Miami-Dade
City: Miami
Description: In 1897 Mrs. William Brickell sold this 10-acre “rocky wasteland” to the City of Miami for $750. At that time it was located one half mile north of the city limits on a narrow wagon track county road. The first burial, not recorded, was of an elderly black man on 14 July 1897. The first recorded burial was H. Graham Branscomb, a 23-year-old Englishman on 20 July 1897. From its inception it was subdivided with whites on the east end and the colored population on the west end. In 1915 the Beth David congregation began a Jewish section. Two other prominent sections are the circles: the first to Julia Tuttle, the “Mother of Miami” buried in 1898; the second, a memorial to the Confederate Dead erected by the United Daughters of the Confederacy. Sixty-six Confederate and twenty-seven Union veterans are buried here. Other sections include a Catholic section, American Legion, Spanish American War, and two military sections along the north and south fence lines. Among the 9,000 burials are pioneer families such as the Burdines, Peacocks and Dr. James Jackson. This site has the only known five oolitic (limestone) gravestones worldwide. These and the unique tropical plants make this a tropical oasis.
Sponsors: SONS OF CONFEDERATE VETERANS, DADE HERITAGE TRUST, COMMISSIONERS REGALDO,WINTON & TEELE AND THE FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF STATE
THE CORAL GABLES GOLF AND COUNTRY CLUB
Location:997 N Greenway Dr.
County: Miami-Dade
City: Coral Gables
Description: The Coral Gables Golf and Country Club and the Granada Golf Course, once the Merrick family’s vegetable field, were part of the original 1921 city plan by George Merrick and landscape architect, Frank Button. The golf course, designed by the nationally known team of Langford & Moreau, opened on January 15, 1923. Three months later, the clubhouse, designed by Hampton & Reimert, became Coral Gables’ first public building. The six original coral rock arches seen behind this marker reflect the Coral Gables Mediterranean style that helped set the tone for the City’s architecture. The Coral Gables Golf and Country Club quickly became the epicenter of the new community and played an important role in its development. Salesmen, including Merrick himself, entertained prospective buyers there and showed them home sites from its distinctive tower. Crowds flocked to the Club’s palm patio and danced to the nationally broadcast music of renowned bandleaders Jan Garber and Paul Whiteman. The Country Club of Coral Gables, as it is known today, received its charter on October 9, 1935. A devastating fire destroyed much of the building on July 11, 1983.
Sponsors: THE CITY OF CORAL GABLES, THE COUNTRY CLUB OF CORAL GABLES FOUNDATION AND THE FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF STATE
PIONEER BOAT BUILDERS' SITE -- 1947
Location:975 North West 95th Street
County: Miami-Dade
City: Miami
Description: For thousands of years most water crafts were built of wood. The first reinforced plastic fiberglass boats in the southeastern United States were conceived and built here in 1947. Two hundred feet north of this marker is the former home and workshop of Troy Wollard, where his shop building still stands. He was an outstanding shipwright who was instrumental in building the durable high-performing crafts with visionary pioneers Arthur H. Siegel (1924-2003) and Dudley Whitman. Challenger Marine Corporation produced its first boats at this location which was the beginning of the boating revolution. This small manufacturing venture changed the yachting world forever. The 18-foot runabout speedboats had inboard engines that could reach up to 50 miles per hour. They had monocoque (egg shape) construction with full-length stringers that supported the hull and engine. An outline of excess resin used to make these boats is still visible on the floor of the shop. This enterprise was one of the first in the nation to use fiberglass successfully and was the forerunner of an important industry eventually leading to the development of large luxury yachts and commercial vessels.
Sponsors: THE FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF STATE
VIRGINIA KEY BEACH STATE PARK
Location:Virginia Beach Drive, Virginia Key State Park
County: Miami-Dade
City: Miami
Description: Virginia Key Beach Park is an environmental and historic landmark on a barrier island in Miami. Its earliest recorded history is of an 1838 skirmish during the Second Seminole War in which three Seminoles were killed on this site. From the early 1900s onward, during the era of segregation laws, this location became a popular unofficial “Colored” recreation area known as “Bears Cut.” In response to a bold protest led by attorney Lawson E. Thomas and others demanding an officially designated beach, Virginia Key Beach opened for “the exclusive use of Negroes” on August 1, 1945. The new park, at first accessible only by boat, was an immediate success, attracting over 1,000 visitors on any given weekend. In addition to the baptisms and sunrise services which regularly took place, churches, organizations, and families gathered here for memorable picnics and social events. The park brought together all neighborhoods and social classes of the “Colored” community. By the early 1960s, another courageous protest brought segregation to an end. The beach park symbolizes the struggle of Black Miamians who persevered to bring about change for future generations.
Sponsors: THE CITY OF MIAMI PARKS AND RECREATION DEPARTMENT AND THE FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF STATE
GREAT MIAMI HURRICANE OF 1926
Location:100 NE 1st Ave.
County: Miami-Dade
City: Miami
Description: On September 18, 1926, the Great Miami Hurricane swept across South Florida with estimated winds of 131-155 mph. Before the era of satellites and computer models, warnings for tropical cyclones were often inadequate. A storm warning from Washington was posted by the Miami Weather Bureau Office (located on the third floor of the Old U.S. Post Office and Courthouse Building from 1914 to 1929) at noon on September 17. A hurricane warning went up only as the winds were rising at 11:25 P.M. Weather instruments on the roof of the building blew away around 3:30 A.M. The eye of the hurricane reached the coast at 6:00 A.M., lasting about 35 minutes with a lowest pressure measured at 27.61 inches. The second part of the hurricane produced the strongest winds and the highest storm surge up to 10 feet that completely flooded Miami Beach and several blocks inland on the mainland, causing the deaths of many who mistakenly thought the storm was over. The storm killed more than 370, made more than 25,000 people homeless, and caused millions of dollars in damage in South Florida. It continued across the state and moved into the Gulf of Mexico near Fort Myers, making a second landfall west of Pensacola on September 20, 1926.
Sponsors: THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE AND THE FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF STATE
TROOP 7 LOG CABIN
Location:1107 S. Greenway Dr
County: Miami-Dade
City: Coral Gables
Description: When George Edgar Merrick (1886-1942) designed his idealistic City of Coral Gables in the early 1920s, he created a special area for scouts and built a rustic log cabin for his Troop 7 Boy Scouts on this site. Today, only the chimney remains. After the hurricane of 1926, Merrick’s Coral Gables Construction Company built the Troop 7 scout cabin largely from pine trees and telephone poles. Merrick deeded these two acres of land, now in the middle of the Granada Golf Course, to the scouts in perpetuity. Their first scoutmaster was Albert H. Bartle. As scoutmaster for the first three years, then a committee member, Mr. Bartle served Troop 7 for 16 years until 1938, setting the standard for excellence and longevity for others to follow. The old Troop 7 log cabin burned down on March 30, 1971, leaving only the chimney. The new building, finished in 1976, was dedicated to Scoutmaster Rex Hawkins, who kept the troop alive during the difficult WWII years when many adult leaders were away. The George Merrick Foundation continues to maintain the property, with help from the City of Coral Gables, the Kiwanis Club of Coral Gables and concerned citizens who appreciate the legacy of George Merrick’s scouting program.
Sponsors: THE GEORGE MERRICK FOUNDATION, INC. AND THE FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF STATE
OLD CUTLER ROAD
Location:Old Culter Rd between Tivoli Ave and SW 74th St
County: Miami-Dade
City: Cutler Bay
Description: Old Cutler Road owes its name to the former town of Cutler, a farming community founded by William Fuzzard in the late 1800s. The town was named after Dr. William Cutler of Massachusetts who visited the area about 1880 and encouraged Fuzzard and others to settle here. In 1883, Fuzzard, with the help of other residents of Cutler, cut a path north and east through a wilderness of pine rocklands and hardwood hammocks to the Village of Coconut Grove. The road followed a natural limestone ridge along Biscayne Bay, and established the first overland route connecting Coconut Grove and Cutler. It was subsequently widened to a wagon trail, and was declared a public road in 1895. The road became known as Cutler Road, later as Ingraham Highway, and still later as Old Cutler Road. Today, Old Cutler Road, which follows a somewhat altered course, maintains the appearance and atmosphere of a country road, and provides a tangible reminder of the heritage of the Miami area. Old Cutler Road was declared a State Historic Highway in 1974 by the Florida Legislature.
Sponsors: The Town of Cutler Bay and the Florida Department of State
OPERATION PEDRO PAN / OPERACIÓN PEDRO PAN
Location:155 NW 14th St
County: Miami-Dade
City: Florida City
Description: On this site, which was officially known as the Florida City Shelter of the Catholic Welfare Bureau’s Cuban Children’s Program, thousands of Operation Pedro Pan children found refuge from Communist Cuba between 1961 and 1966. Operation Pedro Pan was conceived and organized by Monsignor Bryan O. Walsh of the Archdiocese of Miami and James Baker, headmaster of Ruston Academy in Havana, Cuba, at the request of parents who sought to prevent Communist indoctrination of their children. It was financed largely by the United States Government with full support of the Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson administrations, and was supervised by the State of Florida. Between December 1960 and October 1962, over 14,000 Pedro Pan children arrived in South Florida. The Florida City Shelter was the largest of the Operation’s facilities in the state. It housed girls 5-19 years old and boys under 13 who lived in home units under the care of exiled Cuban couples who served as house parents. Its day-to-day operations were managed by Catholic priests and Sisters of St. Philip Neri. Many Operation Pedro Pan children went on to plant deep roots in the region and made significant contributions to Florida and the nation. En este sitio, denominado Refugio de Florida City del Programa de Niños Cubanos del Buró Católico de Bienestar Social, miles de niños integrantes de la Operación Pedro Pan recibieron albergue de Cuba Comunista entre 1961 y 1966. La operación fue concebida y organizada por el Monseñor Bryan O. Walsh de la Arquidiócesis de Miami y por James Baker, director de la Academia Ruston, ubicada en La Habana, Cuba, a solicitud de padres que no querían que sus hijos fueran adoctrinados por el régimen. Fue financiada por el gobierno estadounidense, con respaldo de las administraciones de Eisenhower, Kennedy y Johnson y supervisada por el gobierno estatal de Florida. Entre diciembre de 1960 y octubre de 1962, más de 14,000 niños cubanos llegaron al sur de Florida. En el Refugio de Florida City, el mayor del estado, se acogieron niñas entre 5 y 19 años de edad y niños menores de 13. Los menores residían en hogares encabezados por matrimonios cubanos exiliados que fungían como padres. La administración estaba bajo la dirección de sacerdotes católicos y las Hermanas de San Felipe Neri. Muchos niños de Operación Pedro Pan echaron raíces en la región y contribuyeron al desarrollo socioeconómico y cultural de Florida y del país.
Sponsors: Operation Pedro Pan Group, Inc. and the Florida Department of State
ST. MARY FIRST MISSIONARY BAPTIST CHURCH
Location:136 Frow Avenue
County: Miami-Dade
City: Coral Gables
Description: St. Mary First Missionary Baptist Church was the first African American church in Coral Gables. The church was founded on March 9, 1924, and its congregation of seventeen members first met in an old school house on Thomas Avenue in the MacFarlane Homestead Subdivision. This district contains one of the few remaining concentrations of buildings that reflect the city’s African American heritage. In 1926, the congregation built a permanent house of worship on the present location, but it was destroyed by a hurricane in 1926. Another wooden sanctuary was built under the leadership of the Rev. C.H. Williams. In 1938, the Rev. W.F. Tanner began a long association with the church. Upon his arrival, the church had only 162 members; by 1948, under his pastorship, the congregation had grown to over 1,500 members. Rev. Tanner began an ambitious building program for the church, and in 1958 he completed this masonry building. The congregation wanted the new church to be similar in design to the previous church. To that end, architect J. Frank Bradley designed the two-story church with a tower at the same location as in the earlier building. Rev. Tanner served as pastor of the church for 41 years until his death in 1979.
Sponsors: The City of Coral Gables and the Florida Department of State
PORT OF MIAMI
Location:Port Boulevard and Biscayne Boulevard, State Road #5
County: Miami-Dade
City: Miami
Description: Miami’s waterfront location has played a critical role in its history. In 1895, landowners Julia Tuttle and William and Mary Brickell persuaded Henry Flagler to extend his Florida East Coast Railroad south and build a port city. Flagler’s first passenger train reached Miami in 1896, and the city of 300 residents was then incorporated. In this area, Flagler dredged a 12-foot channel in 1897 and began regular passenger service between Miami and Key West. Flagler’s Peninsular and Occidental (P&O) Steamship Company later began the first regular shipping service between Miami, Granada, and Nassau. In the post-World War II boom, Miami’s geographic proximity as one of the closest U.S. ports to the Caribbean and South America, the city’s transportation and international trade pioneers, and its connection with global commerce, have made it the "Cruise Capital of the World" and “Cargo Gateway of the Americas.” The port accommodates the largest cruise ships in the world, and is one of an elite group of international ports that cater to both cruise ships and containerized cargo vessels.
Sponsors: Foreign Affairs Center, Inc., Florida Trade Association
NW 36th STREET BRIDGE
Location:Bridge that carries Northwest 36th Street over Miami (C-6) Canal
County: Miami-Dade
City: Miami
Description: A rare example of a Hanover Skew bridge once crossed the Miami Canal at this location. The bridge, completed in 1952, was built to carry increasing automobile traffic to and from Miami International Airport, southwest of this location. In the early 1950s, Miami politicians were closely watching municipal spending, and chose this affordable bridge design to reduce traffic issues and accommodate the growing boat traffic on the Miami Canal. The engineering firm of Hardesty & Hanover developed the Hanover Skew bridge design to provide a solution to the skewed crossing over the Miami Canal at NW 36th Street. The bridge required only one set of machinery, a massive pier, and one bascule leaf, which made it economical. Hanover Skew type bridges are unique because of the angled bascule leaf, which rises up and over when opening, similar to turning pages in a book. The NW 36th Street Bridge was one of only three Hanover Skew bridges built in Florida, and one of four bridges of this type built in the United States, all between 1945 and 1963. The Hanover Skew bridge at this location was removed in 2015.
Sponsors: The Florida Department of Transportation
EVANGELIST STREET- CHARLES AVENUE
Location:Charles Avenue from Main Highway to 37th Avenue
County: Miami-Dade
City: Coconut Grove
Description: Side One: In the late 1800s, African-Bahamians migrated to the United States after exhaustion of the islands’ rocky soil. South Florida and the Florida Keys, with similar geography and climate, became attractive destinations. Most Bahamians that settled in Coconut Grove were from the Island of Eleuthera, where the majority of inhabitants were formerly enslaved people from West Indian plantations. One of the first arrivals was Mariah Brown, who was among the first settlers to build their house in this area. When more immigrants settled in the neighborhood, the residents asked the town to put in a road. When the town refused, the Bahamian community built their own road from oolithic limestone (coral rock). Evangelist Street took its name from the neighboring churches, many of which served black congregations, including Macedonia Baptist Church, St. Agnes Baptist Church, and St. Paul’s Methodist Church. Another prominent individual from the Bahamian community on Evangelist Street was E.W.F. Stirrup, who built homes to sell and rent to other newly-arrived Bahamian immigrants. Evangelist Street/Charles Avenue symbolizes the thriving Bahamian community in the area. Side Two: As the neighborhood grew, Evangelist Street grew with it. The street became the cultural and commercial center for the Bahamian community, and extended from Main Highway on the east to Douglas Road (SW 37th Avenue) on the west. In the early 1900s, the street name was changed to Charles Avenue after early settler Joseph Frow’s son, Charles. The Frow family sold land to many of the early Bahamian pioneers to build their homes. In the 1920s the business district moved to County Road, now Grand Avenue. While other parts of Coconut Grove continued to develop, the Charles Avenue area remained the same and was one of the last streets in Coconut Grove to be paved or receive sewers. Charles Avenue remains the backbone of the community and includes an important cemetery, where notable pioneers are buried, as well as historic shotgun homes owned by Mariah Brown and E.W.F. Stirrup. The Neighborhood Conservation District was formed here in 2005.
Sponsors: Coconut Grove Civic Club
E.W.F. STIRRUP HOUSE
Location:3242 Charles Avenue
County: Miami-Dade
City: Coconut Grove
Description: Side One: Bahamian immigrants played an integral role in the development of Coconut Grove. African-Bahamian immigrant Ebenezer Woodbury Franklin Stirrup was born in 1873, and emigrated from the Bahamas in 1888. Stirrup worked as a carpenter’s apprentice first in Key West, then moved his family to Coconut Grove to work on James Deering’s pineapple farm. Through his entrepreneurial talent, Stirrup became one of the largest landowners in the area and built this two-story Frame Vernacular house for himself in 1897. Believing homeownership led people to be better citizens, he built more than 100 homes for African Americans in the region, and provided other blacks with opportunities to rent and later purchase their first homes. In addition to real estate, Stirrup owned a grocery store, bicycle repair shop, tailor shop, meat market, and dry goods store. The Bahamas had the same coral rock and climate, so Stirrup and others knew how to use this soil to plant tropical trees, vegetables, and fruits. Furthermore, they knew how to use the local limestone to make lime mortar used in stone foundations for houses. Side Two: The Stirrup House is one of a few wood-frame residences from the late nineteenth century remaining in Miami-Dade County. The house’s narrow proportions, the size and shape of its doors and windows, and its L-shaped plan are characteristics frequently associated with the era’s residential architecture. The house contains materials of outstanding quality that are native and unique to South Florida, including Dade County slash pine. Though the building has been altered over the years, it retains much of its overall integrity, and is a remarkable example of architecture associated with the Bahamian experience in South Florida. Along with the rehabilitated Mariah Brown House nearby to the west, the E.W.F. Stirrup House serves as a reminder of the achievement of these early pioneers.
Sponsors: Coconut Grove Civic Club
COCONUT GROVE LIBRARY
Location:2875 McFarlane Avenue
County: Miami-Dade
City: Coconut Grove
Description: Side One: This library stands as testament to the tenacity of Coconut Grove’s pioneering citizens. Established by the Pine Needles Club, an organization for young girls formed by local teacher Mary Barr Munroe, the first library operated out of a room above Charles Peacock and Son’s grocery store in the 1890s. Munroe held classes in the room until the library was built in 1901. The first books in the library’s collection were donated in 1895 by Louise Carnegie, wife of steel magnate Andrew Carnegie, who had visited the area earlier on a yachting trip. The books were originally housed in other locations and primarily used by local bibliophiles. Ralph Middleton Munroe, owner of the Barnacle and Commodore of the Biscayne Bay Yacht Club, donated the land for construction of the library building. In doing so, Commodore Munroe stipulated that the grave of his late wife, Eva, would be maintained on-site. Writer and conservationist Kirk Munroe, husband of Mary Munroe, donated the building. The building was reminiscent of a single story English Cotswold Cottage with a clipped-gable roof and was constructed from Miami oolite, a native limestone. Side Two: The Coconut Grove Library Association operated the small building until 1957, when the City of Miami offered to build a new air-conditioned facility. The association’s trustees reluctantly accepted. In 1963, the city commissioned local architectural firm T. Triplett Russell and Associates to design the modern library. In his designs Russell paid homage to the original library design by incorporating oolithic limestone into the wall construction and a clipped-gable roof for the new building’s westernmost wing. The two-story building is defined by a steep, hipped A-frame roof structure. Horizontal metal slats on the exterior shade a wide and un-air conditioned wood veranda space with built-in seating. Like the original building, the new library was built from local materials such as Dade County Rocklands slash pine. Below is a photo of the 1901 library.
Sponsors: Coconut Grove Civic Club
HOUSEKEEPERS- COCONUT GROVE WOMEN'S CLUB
Location:2985 South Bayshore Drive
County: Miami-Dade
City: Coconut Grove
Description: Side One: Organized as the Housekeepers Club of Coconut Grove when it was founded in 1891, the Woman’s Club of Coconut Grove is the oldest federated woman’s club in South Florida. Together with other pioneer women, local school teacher Flora McFarlane organized the club. The first meeting was held in a school house owned by Isabella “Aunt Bella” Peacock. The club worked to further the educational, social, and cultural development of the area’s residents and raised money for the construction of a new school house. The Pine Needles Club formed as an offshoot of the woman’s club became the foundation for the Coconut Grove Library. Around 1909, the club investigated ways to protect the Everglades from development. Mary Barr Munroe spearheaded an effort with the Florida Federation of Women’s Clubs to purchase land in the Everglades for conservation. The women’s efforts culminated in 1916 with the designation of Royal Palm State Park by the Florida legislature. As Florida’s first state park, it became the nucleus of what is now the Everglades National Park. Still active today, the club remains one of the most important civic organizations in the history of Coconut Grove and South Florida. Side Two: The first clubhouse was erected on land donated by Ralph Munroe in 1917. Local architect, Walter de Garmo, was hired to design this new clubhouse, which was built in 1921. De Garmo also designed the first Miami City Hall, Coral Gables Bank, and McAllister Hotel. The building was well-adapted to the South Florida environment with a wide wraparound porch, spacious arched openings (now enclosed), and high ceilings all intended to help circulate the cool breeze. Considered a focal point for the building, the porch was made from native oolithic limestone (coral rock), common in other Coconut Grove buildings. Located next to the library and across from the Peacock Inn (now Peacock Park), the clubhouse was at the heart of Coconut Grove’s social life. This building remains significant because of its association with Coconut Grove’s early development and for its role as a social and cultural center of the community.
Sponsors: Coconut Grove Civic Club
NAS MIAMI- PAN AM SEAPLANE BASE
Location:2500 Pan American Boulevard
County: Miami-Dade
City: Miami
Description: Side One: Known as the “Air Gateway between the Americas”, the Pan American Seaplane Base and Terminal Building is significant in the history of modern air transportation and is an outstanding example of air terminal design. In 1929, Pan American Airways began seaplane service, between the United States and Latin America, on the site of the former Miami Naval Air Station, which had been destroyed by the Great Miami Hurricane of 1926. Pan Am’s first hangar was constructed in 1931. The first passengers left from a houseboat “terminal” anchored nearby until this permanent terminal building was constructed in 1934. In the 1930s, the base was one of the nation’s busiest commercial seaplane airports. In 1943, President Franklin D. Roosevelt passed through the base on his way to Casablanca, marking the first time a U.S. president had traveled by air while in office. The last Pan Am flight left the terminal in 1945, and the site was sold to the City of Miami the next year. Some of the hangers were demolished, and the terminal building became the Miami City Hall in 1954. The terminal’s main waiting room now serves as the Miami City Commission’s chambers. Side Two: In its day, this Art Deco style building was the largest, most modern marine air terminal in the world. Its painted frieze contains images from the history of aviation and the signs of the zodiac. The seaplane base was designed for both aerial and land views. A long straight entry drive with median represents an airplane’s fuselage. The maintenance hangers on each side were angled in a “V”-shape towards the north representing wings, and point to the Art Deco terminal building. A circular revolving globe sculpture at the main entrance, used for determining the movement of planes. This terminal’s design was a model for air terminals in the United States and abroad, and it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975. The City of Miami received a historic preservation grant from the Florida Division of Historical Resources in 2007 for assistance with their restoration of the building.
Sponsors: Coconut Grove Civic Club
CORAL GABLES WOMAN'S CLUB
Location:1001 & 1009 East Ponce de Leon Boulevard
County: Miami-Dade
City: Coral Gables
Description: The Coral Gables Woman's Club is an icon of civic infrastructure in Coral Gables. After organizing in 1923, club members raised $10,000 to construct this clubhouse on land donated by the city. Designed by preeminent South Florida architect H. George Fink, the building was completed in 1936 by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) using oolitic limestone (coral rock) from a local quarry. It was the first WPA project in Coral Gables. The clubhouse is one of the few remaining premier examples of Great Depression-era Moderne style architecture in Florida. One wing served as the first permanent location of the Library of Coral Gables. The other wing served as the clubhouse for the Woman’s Club, whose members had organized the library in 1927. To advance community outreach, the club members also established the Coral Gables Children's Dental Clinic here in 1939. The Woman’s Club took over the entire building after the library relocated in 1969, and continued to use the building for group functions. This building reflects the culture, education, growth and history of Coral Gables, and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1990.
Sponsors: The Board of Directors and Members of the Coral Gables Woman's Club
DOC THOMAS HOUSE - HOME OF TROPICAL AUDUBON SOCIETY
Location:5530 Sunset Drive
County: Miami-Dade
City: Miami
Description: Arden Hayes "Doc" Thomas, a South Miami-area pioneer, pharmacist and owner of the O. K. Drug & Feed Store, commissioned architect Robert Fitch Smith in 1931 to design this distinctive High Pines home. Completed in 1932, the Rustic style structure is a sophisticated version of a Florida frame vernacular cottage. Characterized by native woods and oolitic limestone, the house also features built-in components and ornamental woodwork. As a lifelong conservationist, Thomas gifted his property to Tropical Audubon Society (TAS) to ensure its preservation and use to benefit both TAS and the general public. Established as a National Audubon Society chapter in 1947, TAS traces its origins to the 1915 Coconut Grove Audubon Society, the first in Dade County. Like all Audubon chapters, TAS is a conservation organization named for John James Audubon, the 19th-century ornithologist, wildlife artist and naturalist. After Thomas's death on December 31, 1975, TAS received his property. Since 1976, the house has functioned as Tropical Audubon Society headquarters, while the surrounding acreage now serves as the Steinberg Nature Center. The Doc Thomas House was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2014.
Sponsors: Tropical Audubon Society and the Florida Department of State
COCONUT GROVE PLAYHOUSE
Location:3500 Main Highway
County: Miami-Dade
City: Coconut Grove
Description: Side One: This theater is one of the few structures in downtown Coconut Grove that typifies the flamboyant era of the 1920s. Envisioned by Miami entrepreneurs Irving Thomas and Fin Pierce, The Grove was a luxurious movie theater designed in the Spanish Rococo style by noted architect Richard Kiehnel, who also designed the Miami Senior High School, the Scottish Rite Temple, and many South Florida homes. The Grove was the most elaborate theater with the largest capacity in Miami. Before its opening in 1926, Thomas sold the theater to the movie studio Paramount Enterprises, Inc., believing that the studio could bring in larger attractions. As one of Paramount’s 11 theaters in Southeast Florida, it was equipped with the latest model Wurlitzer pipe organ and was one of the few air conditioned buildings in the area. In addition, the building served multiple purposes with storefronts on the ground floor, offices on the second, and apartments on the third. The theater enjoyed a brief period of success before it closed during the Great Depression in the 1930s. Side Two: During World War II, the theater was used as a training school for U.S. Army Air Corps navigators. Following the war, the building was closed until 1955 when it was purchased for $200,000 by George Engle, who decided to transform it into a performing arts center. Engle hired prominent Modernist architect Alfred Browning Parker to redesign the theater. The remodeled theater opened on June 3, 1956, as the Coconut Grove Playhouse and was Miami’s first live theater. The opening was headlined by the U.S. premiere of Samuel Beckett’s masterpiece “Waiting for Godot.” After changing ownership multiple times, the theater was purchased by the State of Florida in 1980. Despite its turbulent history, the Coconut Grove Playhouse evolved into one of the most important regional theaters in the country and remains a beloved venue for the theatrical community in Miami.
Sponsors: Coconut Grove Civic Club