History


The previous 5 years of history of The Villagers, Inc. is show here.  Click here to view earlier history.

2017-2018 The Emergency Fund is Put to Good Use

After a summer of solid planning, Hurricane Irma swept in during September and altered the landscape in more ways than one. Thankfully members fared well, but Irma devastated the tree canopy of local cities, left piles of debris, and many suffered weeks without power. Irma also presented an opportunity for The Villagers to be first responders to the needs of the area’s damaged historic landmarks. As a private organization, the group was able to act quickly and without red tape. The Kampong, Vizcaya, The Barnacle, Tropical Audubon, The Barnyard Community Center, Dade Heritage Trust, and Montgomery Botanical Center all received immediate and crucial funding.

Fortunately, the homes scheduled for the annual December Holiday House Tour had come through the storm and the event went on, welcoming hundreds of guests as planned to six beautiful and distinctive homes in Coral Gables and South Miami.

New members enjoyed several social evenings with members as well as a member orientation. The group’s holiday festivities were held at the historic La Palma Hotel in Coral Gables and members visited the Deering Estate for a tour, video presentation, and lunch.

Officers and committee members tried something very different for the annual Garden Tour. Venturing to the far south of the County, in the Redland. Both gardens were featured in The Villagers’ Gardens of Miami book and the tour to these two exceptional properties proved a huge success for hundreds of garden-lovers. It was a beautiful cool day with bright blues skies, horses, a barn, orchids, and wonderful vendors. It was magical. There was something for everyone.

Intrigued by the interesting history of the Redland, the group returned to the area for the Historic Hunt “Road Trip Through Redland History” and delicious BBQ dinner.

Twelve deserving students shared $35,000 in college scholarships; with all recipients having a special interest in historic preservation and restoration.



2016-2017 Recognition Pours in for 50 Years of Service

Celebrations continued in honor of The Villagers “50 Years of Saving Places.”

Accolades were received from many sectors of the community. The Villagers were honored at a cocktail reception given by The Dade Heritage Trust and a tea hosted by the Woman’s Club of Coconut Grove. Miami-Dade County and Coral Gables both issued proclamations declaring “The Villagers Inc. Day.” Culminating the accolades, the group received the prestigious Carl Weinhardt Award from the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation.

Secondary grant distributions were made available to the five organizations selected to share the $100,000 in funds announced the prior year. The Barnacle, Barry University, Biscayne Park Foundation, Redland Farm Life School and Vizcaya were awarded funds during a two-year period (for details see 2015-2016). Additionally, 10 students shared $34,000 in college scholarships, awarded to those with an interest in architectural historic preservation and restoration.

A curated exhibit was on display at the Coral Gables Museum during the month of October. Hurricane Matthew interfered with opening ceremonies but the detailed exhibit, “The Villagers, Quilts, and 50 Years of Preservation” went off without a hitch.

During the popular Miami International Book Fair in November, the group was honored when authors of the recently published Gardens of Miami coffee table book were selected for a public presentation, radio program, and special coverage.

The annual December House Tour focused 100 percent on local history with a nod to Coral Gables with “Finding Fink: The Architecture of George Fink.” Members celebrated the past with a holiday party held at the very first location they helped save – the Douglas Entrance.

Efforts continued to promote the Gardens of Miami book with a tour and book sale for the American Botanical Gardens Association and a special authors lecture at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden. The Villagers sponsored a meeting of the Miami Heritage Network in an effort to unite the more than 100 historic/cultural/preservation-minded groups existing within Miami-Dade County.

The Historic Hunt Road Rally introduced dedicated hunters to MiMo (Miami Modern) sites throughout the northern portion of the county and culminated with a “Rock Around the Clock” dinner and auction at the Dezer Collection/ Miami Auto Museum.

Anniversary celebrations finally drew to a close with a hugely successful member-guest Gala Dinner & Auction held May 7th at the historic Coral Gables Woman’s Club.



2015-2016 “50 Years of Saving Places” Anniversary Celebrations

To honor the community during their 50th year, The Villagers donated $100,000 to fund programs focusing on the preservation of buildings, culture and student enrichment. The five grant recipients are: Barry University, for restoration in the mid-century auditorium; The Barnacle, for fire-prevention; Biscayne Park Foundation, restoration of the 1933 WPA Log cabin used as a community center; Redland Farm Life School, a mobile teaching unit to support this 1916 school currently under restoration; and Vizcaya, restoration of external light fixtures.



Villagers and their guests braved an unusual rainy December day while touring five unique historic Coral Gables homes during the 28th annual Villagers’ Holiday House Tour. This year’s theme “Timeless Relevance” brought out record-breaking ticket sales of more than 1,000. The boutique and Attic Treasures also turned in record-breaking numbers. This year’s hand-made quilt raffled was “Tropical Nights.”

“On Golden Wings” was the theme for the Historic Hunt, held in February this year at the Curtiss Mansion, in Miami Springs.

Members enjoyed Broadway productions of Kinky Boots and Motown as well as a tour and trivia contest at Barry University, followed by lunch at the artfully restored mid-century Vagabond Motel.



2014-2015 Updated Website Launched; Ability to Purchase Event Tickets Now On-Line

Planning began for 50th-anniversary activities and a 50/50 raffle started to generate funds to support anniversary events. The first members’ event was in January at Merrick House. Work on the Garden Book continued, with the selection of gardens and fund-raising to defray printing expenses well underway.

Significantly, a totally revamped, interactive website was developed and launched. With a private members’ section, the site also offers a rich, in-depth background about the Villagers and links to local historic sites. An exciting new feature is the ability to pay for event tickets online, with the push of a button.

Members voted to add a new category of membership, Associate, to the existing Active, Sustaining and Life. With a fairly steady membership of more than 220, The Villagers’ added the category so it would be easier for younger, working individuals to get involved with historic preservation. Future plans also call for a variety of meeting times and days to appeal to the many levels of membership.

More than $56,000 was raised through a variety of efforts. Good Search (for Good Dining and Good Shopping) was added to fundraising efforts (a program similar to Amazon Smile). Funds were also raised from Yearbook ads, Villager Art and Macy’s Shop for a Cause. Six unique homes in Pinecrest and Coral Gables provided the backdrop for hundreds of local residents interested in architecture, history and home décor. This year’s tour theme “Then and Now - featuring architectural changes throughout the years” set the tone for an interesting and entertaining event. The successful boutique and quilt raffle featuring a Coppertone-inspired “Tan, Don’t Burn” quilt enhanced the event’s profitability.

In March, more than 600 garden enthusiasts enjoyed the Annual Villagers’ Garden Tour, “Tropical Perspectives” featuring six uniquely wonderful private gardens in Pinecrest. “Heaven to Earth” included Historic churches and modern art as the theme for the 2015 Historic Hunt held in April. Montgomery Botanical Center was the final destination and site for a Peacock-themed dinner.

The Villagers awarded a dozen not-for-profit organizations more than $50,000 in grants to support historic preservation and restoration. Projects included: Actor’s Playhouse, restoration of wood in lobby and wooden theater doors; Chabad of South Dade, Inc., repair and replace original 1920’s stained glass window frames; Coral Gables Merrick House, restoration of “Glades, Trees, Birds”, a 1920 oil painting by Denman Fink; Cushman School, fund student-created book, inspired by the history and architecture of the 1926 school in the historic Palm Grove neighborhood; Florida Trust, funding for 2015 annual conference; Miami Scottish Rite Temple, funding for an 1923 elevator and ADA-compliant ramping[ Montgomery Botanical Center, repair AC Unit of Nell’s House where all historic documents and photos are stored; Plymouth Congregational Church, fumigation of School House; Shenandoah Neighborhood Assoc., fund consultant to help establish Shenandoah as a historic district; Boy Scout Troop 7 of Coral Gables, restore and paint present shelter; Village of Biscayne Park, restoration of historic log cabin Village Hall; and WAIL (Word and Image Lab), artist-created book inspired by the architecture and history of downtown Miami historic sites.

$28,000 in scholarships were awarded: three to students from the University of Miami, one from Florida International University and three from DASH.

Members visited the Henry Flagler Museum in Palm Beach, Hialeah Park Race Track for lunch, tour and races, HistoryMiami Museum to see the Audubon exhibit and the Broadway musical Newsies. Twenty-five Villagers journeyed by train to Savannah for the National Trust Conference. As per tradition, members decorated the Christmas tree at the Barnacle and celebrated at a lovely Holiday Party at a member’s home.



2013-2014 By-Laws Revised to be Gender-Neutral

For a number of years, men have been members of The Villagers, and now the by-laws have been updated to reflect their inclusion. Efforts were also made to be more environmentally conscious, use less paper, and email more agendas and information. Participation in the Amazon Smile program was added to the already successful event line-up. Fundraisers generated $67,926, starting with the Holiday House Tour, “A Walk in the Grove,” featuring 6 homes in Coconut Grove; the quilt raffle theme was “Biscayne Bay Treasures,” and “A Cornucopia of Gardens” showcased gardens from Coconut Grove to Snapper Creek Lakes during the spring tour. “Entertaining Miami” was the theme of the Historic Hunt that started at the Jackie Gleason Theater on Miami Beach and concluded with dinner and auction at Coral Reef Yacht Club.

Members enjoyed tours of the emerging Wynwood district and the iconic Stiltsville with Dr. Paul George. An important planning retreat held in January helped officers and members strategize for the future.

More than $45,000 in grants was awarded to The Barnacle for an oral history video, City of South Miami’s Sylva Martin House to restore doors & windows, Coral Gables Woman’s Club for restoration of doors and frames, Dade Heritage Trust, for a Historic Neighborhoods and Building Communities Workshop, Friends of Gusman to restore antique light fixtures (project later canceled by Gusman), Gesu Catholic Church for restoration of 1923 elevator and The Kampong for restoration of Fairchild/Sweeney House. Others include Miami Scottish Rite Temple to bring elevator to ADA code, Miami Shenandoah Neighborhood Association for a workshop for Dade Heritage Days, Montgomery Botanical Center for restoration of Nell’s House and Flower Prep Counter, Pinecrest Gardens, Vizcayans for furniture restoration, Woman’s Club of Coconut Grove for Hurricane windows and doors and William Jennings Bryan Museum Magnet School for renovation of auditorium stage.

This was the second project for William Jennings Bryan School and they renamed the auditorium in honor of The Villagers: “The Village Gallery.”

Nine worthy students shared $28,000 in college scholarships for study in architectural preservation and related fields. Recipients included three from the University of Miami, two from Florida International University, one from the University of Florida, and three to seniors at DASH, for the college or university of their choice.

The Garden Book committee made good progress with scope, direction, and fund-raising.