Thursday March 27 Miami Beach
Another re-arranged day. High winds continued and with access to our car, which is unusual for us in Miami Beach, we headed out to Vizcaya Museum and Gardens. Despite our frequent times here, we had never visited this dramatic home. (No interior photos allowed.)
Vizcaya was created by James Deering. His family created one of the companies that formed International Harvester. My reading of the various histories is that he was given a vice-president position due to family connection but after less than 10 years in the business, he was eased out. So Vizcaya is the creation more of a person of inherited wealth than a person who created wealth.
The house and grounds are dramatic. The house was built between 1914 and 1916. Due to WWI, the gardens were not completed until 1921. Deering died in 1925. He was unmarried and childless and his brother’s daughters inherited the property. They sold off parts of the extensive grounds that had been used for farms and gardens. Eventually they sold the house and gardens to Miami-Dade County. It is said that 1000 workers were employed to build the home. The population of Miami at the time of construction was 10,000 people.
The home was inspired by international influences, particularly Italian and Spanish. There is no one theme, influences come from Mediterranean architecture; from 18th century Italian theater; from a 2nd century AD Roman marble basin; etc. Whole rooms were purchased and transported from Europe to Miami. Deering purchased a rug that once belonged to the grandfather of King Ferdinand of Spain (the one that bankrolled Christopher Columbus.) There is a 15th century Italian coffered ceiling. A harpsichord dates back to 1619. Tapestries on a wall once belonged to the 19th century poet Robert Browning. This guy had money and spent it.
Modern influences included indoor plumbing, all electric lights, two elevators, a refrigerator, an electric dumbwaiter, walk-in vault for the silver when Deering was not present, etc.
The home was built on Biscayne Bay. Several dramatic views of the bay can be seen. The design includes a stone sculpture of a barge out in the bay that acts as a breakwater. The pool is an indoor/outdoor pool.
The gardens are extensive. Whole hillsides were created to block the view of the farms and grounds. Fountains and statuary reflect European style. The gardens are more formal, reflecting symmetry and shrubbery more than blooming flowers. The beauty of the grounds lends itself to photos shoots. We saw at least 6 teen age girls having their Quinceanera photos taken.
We returned to Miami Beach and went for another long walk. This time we headed south to South Pointe and the shipping channel. We arrived in time to watch one of the four cruise ships in port as it headed out to sea.
Ed and Chris March 27 10:30 pm