150+ LOCAL PROJECTS SAVE HISTORIC PLACES
Close to $2 million has been granted to support close to 80 local historic properties, organizations, and scholarships. Funds raised support preservation, including projects for restoration, documentation, education, and maintenance, as well as college scholarships for Florida architecture students studying historic preservation. In recent years the organization’s annual grant budget ranges from $80,000 – $100,000.
The Villagers focus on filling missing gaps, providing the ‘glue’ holding a site together through the infrastructure needed to protect crumbling property, and the brainpower to identify and fight for local preservation. Examples include:
- Studies funded allowed grantees the ability to qualify for major funding sources
- A/C systems installed protect valuable historic documents from the tropical climate
- Lightning prevention systems added to protect structures
- Skilled artisans contracted to restore historic paintings, furniture, and fixtures
- Curated signage placed to increase awareness
- Educational videos produced to showcase sites to visiting public
- Repairs of significant features such as gates or fountains enhance sites
An overview of just a few of the dozens of Villager-funded projects are detailed below.
Actor’s Playhouse/Miracle Theatre | Coral Gables
Now the largest professional regional theatre in Miami-Dade, much has been done to keep the theatre looking it’s best. Grants have supported the installation of neon lights, updated electrical system, repaired and restored terrazzo floors, refurbished the lobby including, lighting, interior wood panels and replacement of carpet.
The Barnacle | Miami
The Villagers fought for the Barnacle Extension and have provided ongoing support for restoration, repair and updating projects including boathouse restoration, restoration of the roof of the 1927 carriage house, painting, a fire prevention system, and the restoration of wicker furniture, oriental rugs, pictures, and many furnishings and accent pieces. An educational documentary to be shown at The Barnacle was funded to create a virtual tour of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas cottage, telling the story of her life and legacy as an early environmentalist considered responsible for saving the Everglades.
The Barnacle is the oldest home in Miami-Dade in its original location. Now part of The Barnacle Historic State Park in Coconut Grove, it is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Cape Florida Lighthouse, Lightkeeper’s Cottage | Key Biscayne
A major project was to restore the Cottage and develop a living museum depicting the life of the family who would have lived there in the 19th century. The detached kitchen was re-imagined as a video theater, an educational video produced, and signage added along the Cultural Trail of historic gardens. Now part of Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park, the lighthouse is the oldest standing structure in Miami-Dade and is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Coral Gables House/Merrick Manor | Coral Gables
Many accessories and accent pieces have been restored with Villager funding including the refinishing and upholstering of wicker furniture and restoration of a 1920 oil painting by Denman Fink “Glades, Trees, Birds.” Additional funds have restored more artifacts and paintings, including watercolors by Althea Merrick and a Denman Fink pastel of Eunice Peacock Merrick. The boyhood home of George Merrick, founder of Coral Gables, was built by his father the Rev. Solomon Merrick, in 1910, and incorporates the original 1862 cabin. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Dade Heritage Trust | Miami-Dade
Members of The Villagers were the catalyst behind the development and 1972 creation of the Dade Heritage Trust, Miami’s largest historic preservation organization. The Villagers have remained closely associated with the Trust, often funding special projects, educational programs, and workshops. Members continue to be involved in leadership roles. Initially, The Villagers funded and served as volunteer manpower for a survey of historic resources in Miami-Dade, identifying more than 875 sites, helping many be placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Other examples include support of exploratory projects such as for the Miami Circle (a native American site), and funding of educator scholarships to a conference on MiMo.
Deering Estate | Miami
The Deering Estate became a significant public asset when it was acquired by the State of Florida in 1985, and The Villagers have supported the site ever since, even concluding the annual Historic Hunt at the site in 1987. Lifetime Founders, The Villagers have supported various projects including restoration and repairs at the Richmond Cottage, Charles Deering’s first home on the property, which originally served as the 1896 Richmond family home and inn. A recent educational grant helped produce the 30-minute video “On This Land – The Charles Deering Estate” a comprehensive history detailing the importance of the site as a prehistoric archeological site, home of Native Americans, role in the pioneer era, and evolution under the guidance of Charles Deering. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Douglas Entrance | Coral Gables
Where it all began for The Villagers. One of George Merrick’s entrances to his City Beautiful. Saved from demolition with the help of The Villagers and now one of 12 Coral Gables sites on the National Register of Historic Places.
Historic Hampton House Motel | Miami/Brownsville
A grant was awarded towards the restoration and preservation of the site. An iconic segregation-era motel and lounge, many notable entertainers and Civil Rights leaders stayed and performed here including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, Muhammad Ali, and Nat King Cole. Historic Designation by Miami-Dade County.
The Kampong | Miami
The former home of Dr. David Fairchild and office of Eleanor Galt Simmons, MD the first female physician in Miami, The Villagers’ 25th- anniversary project was a major restoration of the limestone barn and Dr. David Fairchild’s Study and museum exhibits. Other awards supported restoration and funding of air conditioning and continued rehab work. The groundwork was laid for the establishment of Everglades National Park in meetings held here. Now a part of the National Tropical Botanical Garden and on the National Register of Historic Places.
Marjory Stoneman Douglas Cottage | Miami
Marjory Stoneman Douglas was an environmentalist, feminist, WW1 veteran, and journalist. She wrote The Everglades: River of Grass in this home and is widely credited with radically changing the public’s perception of the role and importance of the Everglades. In addition to a significant contribution for restoration, Villagers worked to help inventory and pack Marjory’s books and clothing. Since the home cannot be toured, an educational documentary to be shown at the nearby Barnacle Historic State Park was funded to create a virtual tour of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas cottage, telling the story of her life and legacy. The home is now the property of the State of Florida and is a National Historic Landmark.
Miami-Dade Courthouse | Miami
The Villagers helped fund restoration of the lobby and the lighting in iconic 1928 Courtroom 6-1. It was the scene of many infamous trials including those of gangster Al Capone (not guilty) and Giuseppe Zangara (guilty) who tried to assassinate FDR.
Montgomery Botanical Center | Coral Gables
Colonel Robert H. Montgomery founded Fairchild Tropical Garden and today the estate where he lived with his wife Nell, is a private, not-for-profit research facility with one of the world’s most significant collections of palms and cycads. The Montgomery home has been air-conditioned with help from The Villagers, and buildings for visiting scientists and archival storage have been improved. Work has also been funded for the restoration of the iron and wooden door entry to the main home and the 1932 greenhouse shutters and fans restoration of the sub-flooring and windows in the Montgomery Guest House, restoration of damaged walls. Emergency hurricane funding repaired loose roof tiles and cracks in the façade of the main 1932 home.
For more than 20 years The Villagers have supported restoration and maintenance of this 1890s schoolhouse including termite fumigation and landscaping. The first school in Coconut Grove, the one-room schoolhouse includes its original school bell. In past years, The Villagers provided docents in period costume, to serve as the schoolmarm during tours. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Pinecrest Gardens/Parrot Jungle | Pinecrest
The Villagers have supported the restoration of the original Parrot Jungle building entrance and restoration of the Whilden-Carrier cottage, the 1932 home of the original foreman at Fairchild Tropical Gardens to re-purpose as a public space in Pinecrest Gardens. Rehab includes adding A/C to create archival and interpretation space, replacing windows, stairs, doors, path pavers, external wood trim as well as bathroom and kitchen fixtures. The site is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Seminole Theatre | Homestead
A colorful replica replacement marquee funded by The Villagers rises above the theater, visible from anywhere along the main business street. The theatre has been repurposed as a performance center and cultural hub for the Homestead community. A significant part of the Homestead Historic Downtown District now on the National Register of Historic Places.
Tropical Audubon Society/Doc Thomas House | South Miami
Preservation work on the historic home of Doc Thomas has been funded by The Villagers. Thomas was a pharmacist, early resident, and nature lover who left his property to the Tropical Audubon Society who repurposed the site as its headquarters. Restoration funded includes updates to the electrical system, new roof, and restoration of compromised sections of cypress siding. The property is a Florida Heritage Site and on the National Register of Historic Places.
Village Hall | Biscayne Park
Working with the Biscayne Park Foundation, The Villagers funded restoration of the floors, windows, and doors for a historic 1933 WPA log cabin now used as a Village Hall/community center.
Vizcaya Museum and Gardens | Miami
The home of industrialist James Deering who founded International Harvester, Vizcaya was a self-sustaining estate completed in 1916. Early Villager-efforts included hands-on work as well as funding to restore and renovate the Casino on the Mound. Funding included replacement of a new wrought iron door and glass, repair of bathrooms and repainting of the ceiling in the Casino loggia. Through the years funding has supported much restoration work in the Main House including repair and preservation of stone and marble candelabrum, preservation of external light fixtures, cleaning and restoration of the fireplace, and preservation of furniture and decorative items. Emergency funds were provided for hurricane clean-up to reduce further damage as well as grants given to purchase two flagpoles, support of campaign to minimize development around the site, and underwrite production costs for a PBS educational documentary. Restoration of the Carpenter’s Shop, and restoration and conservation of an outdoor sculpture garden including treatment for four statues show the breadth and depth of The Villagers’ long-standing support. The estate is a National Historic Landmark.
William Jennings Bryan Museum Magnet Elementary School | North Miami
Restoration of the courtyard and fountain, as well as the renovation of the auditorium stage, have resulted in the school auditorium being renamed “The Village Gallery” in honor of The Villagers.
Through the years, many restoration projects have been funded including restoration of the foundation and installation of new windows so the facility could be air-conditioned. Other funded projects include: a lighting grid, refinishing floors, new doors and front entry, painting, and bringing the property into compliance with modern building codes and ADA requirements.