By Lloyd Jackson
Number 10 - Freedom Tower
Built in 1925 to house the offices and printing plant of the Miami Daily News, formerly the Miami Metropolis, the city’s first newspaper founded in 1896 with the help of Henry Flagler. Designed by New York-based architectural firm Schultze and Weaver, which also created the Roney Plaza in Miami Beach, the Biltmore in Coral Gables, and the Breakers in Palm Beach.
Tri-partite scheme features a three-story base embellished by decorative elements made of pinkdyed cast stone and striated with artificial veining. Above a twelve-story tower sits an elaborate two-story cupola. The design, like that of its local brethren, takes inspiration from the Giralda Tower in Seville, Spain.
The newspaper, now defunct, remained in the building until 1957. Five years later, the General Services Administration utilized the structure as the Cuban Refugee Center through 1974; hence the nickname “Freedom Tower.” Developers the Terra Group acquired the building and proposed attaching it to an immense condominium, to the chagrin of many preservationists. In December of 2005, the company donated the Tower to Miami Dade College but still plans to build a 62-story building behind it.
Number 9 - The Barnacle
Designed and constructed in 1891 by yacht designer/boat builder Ralph Middleton Munroe (a.k.a. the Commodore) who moved to South Florida from New York. The oldest home in Miami-Dade County still on its original site, it is now part of the state-park system.
A three-sided veranda wraps a square-plan structure, which features rooms oriented around an octagonal dining area. In 1908, the entire one-story, wood-frame house was raised to provide more living space via a new ground floor made of rusticated concrete blocks. Taking inspiration from the marine life form that is its namesake, the house has a center vent in its flared hip roof, which creates a chimney-like effect expelling hot air. The front entrance faces a long, rolling lawn that stretches east toward Biscayne Bay. At the edge of the property, near the water, is a small boathouse where Munroe lived while constructing his home remarkably suited to South Florida’s tropical climate.
Number 8 - Vizcaya
Completed in 1916 as a winter home for International Harvester farm equipment heir James Deering. The site originally consisted of 180 acres that included a working farm on the west side of South Bayshore Drive. Over the course of 10 years, more than 1,000 workers built the compound and 70-room Italian Renaissance villa designed by F. Burrall Hoffman, with landscape work (formal gardens) by Diego Suarez and interiors by Paul Chalfin.
The house has a central courtyard surrounded by loggias connecting four towers. The design encourages cross-ventilation, a necessary concession to the local climate. The garden behind the southern end of the house features a grand raised casino to block glare from a lake there. On the east bay-facing side, a large stone barge embellished with classical statuary floats in the bay and functions as a breakwater against storms. The complex is now a public museum owned by Miami-Dade County.