Miami Landmarks Past (and the More Recent Past)

I’m wrapping up a visit to Miami and Miami Beach for work (I know – I love my job) that ended with a spectacular tour of two landmarks of Miami’s past…and the more recent past.

Recently the National Trust for Historic Preservation has listed three properties in Miami on the annual list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places.  We visited two of those sites yesterday and they gave first-hand evidence to the wide range of places that make up the American experience.

First up was the 1963 Miami Marine Stadium.  Arriving by boat while listening to the architect – Cuban born Hilario Candela who at age 27 designed this aquatic marvel with its zigzag concourse floating over the stands – was an incredible experience.  It is threatened because the city sees the site as much more valuable for development, even though it doesn’t take a great deal of imagination to understand how this wonderful place could thrive again as a civic center for all South Florida.  Watch the video at the end of the post to hear that quintessential South Floridian – Jimmy Buffett – talk about why this place matters.

After a short bus ride, we were transported to Vizcaya – one of the country’s great early 20th century marvels.  This estate was built from 1914-17 by James Deering of International Harvester, and the 70-room house and magnificent gardens are filled with artwork, architectural detailing, and landscape views that are more than the eye can capture in a short visit.  This National Historic Landmark, threatened by nearby high-rise development that would destroy the view from the gardens, has a bright future thanks to the work of so many people who understand the value of saving not only the buildings, but the settings, of great places.  I had the good fortune to have dinner with Joel Hoffman, the Executive Director of Vizcaya, and my colleague Laurie Ossman, who had been the assistant director and chief curator at the site before joining the National Trust.  They told of the hard but satisfying work to fight the development plans, making for a terrific ending to a wonderful four days in Miami.

More to come…

DJB

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