Miami Living Magazine

Mario Lopez

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MIAMI LIVING 31 PROFILE Vizcaya Museum and Gardens is one of the most alluring places on earth and Miami is very lucky to still have the majority of its property intact. Vizcaya features a main house, ten acres of formal gardens, a rockland hammock (native forest), mangrove shore, and soon-to-be-restored historic village that will provide additional venues for programs and community outreach. A one-hour documentary named Vizcaya, enthusiastically narrated by part-time Miami resident and celebrated actor Andy Garcia, recently aired on WPBT2 and nationally on all PBS stations. If you missed the original airing —detailing the history of this historic landmark, check your local listings for upcoming repeats and/or purchase the DVD for $19.95 at Better yet, see this glorious place in person and then purchase a copy of the DVD in the Vizcaya Café and Shop. Documentary filmmaker and producer Linda Corley, who has a background in architecture and decorative arts, has long been drawn to the enchantment, mystery and beauty of Vizcaya. "I thought long and hard about it —from envisioning it to its completion. It is an amazing story," she said. "This documentary about Vizcaya is the first of its kind," Corley commented. "Never before has an all- encompassing documentary about this National Historic Landmark been created. When people visit the house, they ooh and aah about the paintings, carpets, tapestries, etc., but visitors don't seem to understand what it took to build the house." Vizcaya Museum and Gardens preserves the Miami estate of the International Harvester Company's (which produced agricultural equipment for a worldwide audience) Vice President, James Deering (1859–1925). Built between 1914 and 1922, he lived at Vizcaya from 1916 until his death in 1925. To bring his dream home to fruition, Deering engaged the assistance of Paul Chalfin, a young New York painter, to supervise the entire project. Deering and Chalfin traveled throughout Europe surveying residential architecture for ideas and design elements, such as doors, wall panels, mantels and ceilings for incorporation into the proposed home. Architect F. Burrall Hoffman and Colombian landscape architect Diego Suare were also recruited to work on this project. Corley conducted extensive interviews with a wide array of sources, including authors Witold Rybczynski and Laurie Olin; historian Arva Moore Parks; University of Miami Professor of Architecture Joanna Lombard, and Vizcaya curator Flaminia Gennari-Santori. Corley also interviewed heirs of J.J. Bennett, a land surveyor and engineer who was the first man Deering hired and the last to leave the project, and the children of unofficial Vizcaya historian, Eustace Edgecombe, who worked at Vizcaya from 1915 to the mid-1960s. Vizcaya is one of the most unscathed residual architectural examples from the era in United States history known as the American Renaissance, when the nation's wealthy industrialists built lavish estates inspired by the palaces of Europe. Vizcaya was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1994 for its national significance as an achievement of American Renaissance architecture, landscape design, decorative arts, and art collecting. The Vizcaya's unique blend of so many different tastes is completely original in its conception and design that no words can perfectly describe the magnificent gardens and stunning architecture that appeal to all of your senses. My advice, go and go many times over, bring your family, friends and out-of-town visitors. It is a must-see! Vizcaya is open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. For more information, call: 305-250-9133. Guided tours are available in English or Spanish. The museum also offers Moonlight Garden Tours, Evening Talks and Special Tours, Performances and a Contemporary Arts Project. ML Vizcaya Museum and Gardens Miami's Enchanting Piece of Paradise Words by Marla E. Schwartz

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