Miami’s earliest days presented immense opportunity for developers with a vision and the resilience to navigate the rough landscape. George E. Merrick, the father of Coral Gables, benefited from the perfect mixture of opportunity and timing when he decided to execute his vision for A City beautiful.
In 1922, after several years in Floridas agricultural business, Merrick envisioned the creation of a city on the 3,000 acres of citrus groves left to him by his father. He spent over $20 million during the span of three years meticulously planning and building 1,000 Mediterranean homes within the slowly establishing city of Coral Gables.
Merrick’s creativity pushed him past his initial project when he decided to enlist skilled architects to design and build ‘villages’ within Coral Gables. Each village was to feature the architectural influence from an international culture. Though he originally envisioned the construction of 14 villages, he only managed to build 6 of them before the Great Depression sent him into debt and ended the project.
Florida Pioneer Village
Most Recent Sale: $3,525,000
Merrick hired architects John Pierson and John Coulton Skinner to design this New England influenced village. The architecture is meant to replicate the Georgian designs that originated in England and Europe. The Riviera Golf Course occupies the entire area surrounding the homes and offers a view of the actual course from each backyard. These homes were the last to be completed before the Labor Day Hurricane of 1926 halted construction.
Most Recent Sale: $2,250,000
Pierson, Skinner, Alfred L. Klingbeil, R.F. Ware, and Robert Law Weed were the architects charged with designing the largest village out of the 6 that were completed. These homes are inspired by the farm houses spread throughout the Italian countryside.
French Normandy Village
Most Recent Sale: $958,000
Also designed by Coulton and skinner, the French Normandy Village was modeled after a 15th century French village. The houses sit on a square block and share the nearness typical of village homes. This particular village was used as a barracks during World War II.
Most Recent Sale: $875,000
As the most starkly different of the 6, the Chinese Village really captures your attention. The homes stick out immediately and are easily spotted from US-1. Architect Henry Killam Murphy, a scholar of Oriental architecture, designed the village. A common wall in a ‘compound’ layout joins the houses while the ornamental gates captivate your attention and draw you into endless detail.
French City Village
Most Recent Sale: N/A
It what may seem like a contradictory choice, architects Phillip Goodwin and Mott B. Schmidt designed the Italian Renaissance inspired homes in the French City Village. The homes sit on a rectangular block and feature elegant courtyards.
Dutch-South African Village
Most Recent Sale: N/A
The homes featured in the Dutch Village are modeled after the farmhouses built by early colonists who settled in South Africa. Architect Marion Sims Wyeth designed the homes. Ornate trimmings and elaborate chimney designs draw you into the architectural environment the homes originate from.
Owning any of these homes is a privilege due to their rich history and stunning beauty. In order to preserve their original integrity, any renovation or improvement within any of these villages requires complete approval and guidance from the City of Coral Gables. By ensuring these homes are properly cared for, we can guarantee they’ll bring their magic to future generations.
George Merrick may not have completed his entire vision but he surely made a massive impact on the architectural environment of Miami. Coral Gables, to this day, inspires awe in anyone who drives through the area. The grandiose architecture and inspiring canopy of trees stand as his legacy and a testament of his vision for the ‘City Beautiful’.