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Remnants of a Dream in Coral Gables, Florida

Remnants of a Dream in Coral Gables, Florida

Diversity is a key ingredient for a successful development, or at least that’s what George Merrick, Founding Father of Coral Gables, believed in 1925. Along with The American Building Company and former Ohio Governor Myers Cooper, he created the largest home development project in that time’s history: the Village Project. At the time, South Florida

Diversity is a key ingredient for a successful development, or at least that’s what George Merrick, Founding Father of Coral Gables, believed in 1925. Along with The American Building Company and former Ohio Governor Myers Cooper, he created the largest home development project in that time’s history: the Village Project. At the time, South Florida had no existing architectural heritage, so Merrick brought in the best architectural traditions from around the world and adapted them to the new climate. However, the devastating Hurricane of 1926, followed by the Great Depression halted this plan.

Only seven of the fourteen villages were actually developed, with less than eighty of the 1,000 residences built. These villages act as far more than a marketing scheme built to attract “northerners” to South Florida, but are valuable districts:

Florida Pioneer/Colonial Village
John & Coulton Skinner and John E. Pierson, architects

  • Florida Pioneer / Colonial: With white picket fences, grand double-story porches, and highly-symmetrical facades, this village was influenced by the large houses of New England;

South African Dutch Village
Marion Sims Wyeth, architect

  • Dutch South African Village: Comprising of only five residences, the whitewashed structures, ornately rounded gables, and jonkershuis adapt well with the surrounding Mediterranean Revival;

Chinese Village
Henry Killam Murphy, architect

  • Chinese Village: This colorful block of courtyards, yellow rooftops, and stone-carved pillar-gates (ques) is an exotic sight for visitors;

French Normandy/Provincial Village
Phillip Lippincott Goodwin, architect

  • French Normandy / Provincial Village: These attached residences showcase the Tudor decorative half-timbering, brick-base detailing, and minimal wooden enhancements;

Italian Village
R. F. Ware, architect

  • Italian Village:  This spread-out village is characterized with low-pitched and heavily bracketed roofs, asymmetrical informal facades, and towers.

French Country Village
Frank Forster, architect

  • French Country Village: One of the larger villages, these residences are large, detached structures, with high mansard roofs and rustic details;

French City Village
Mott B. Schmidt, architect

These villages were once regarded as failed attempts due to the city’s poor economic state, but are now regarded as the city’s most desirable areas. Are we still designing our communities in ways that build lasting value?

Credits: Images by Jennifer Garcia. Data linked to sources.

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Born and raised in the Midwest, Jennifer García now enjoys the energy and quality of life that Miami has to offer. Professionally, she uses traditional architecture and principles of the New Urbanism as a Town Planner at Dover, Kohl & Partners....

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