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What famous American author settled in Coconut Grove in 1886 and lived there for the rest of his life?

Kirk Munroe

The author. Ralph Munroe, photographer. HistoryMiami, 138D.

Not as well known today as some other American authors of the later 19th century, this author was very popular in his own time. Indeed, at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, he was chosen at their favorite author by 10,000 children who attended the fair. He was probably best known for his series, "Stories for Boys,” and authored 36 books and hundreds of magazine articles. After he and his wife, Mary Barr, settled in Coconut Grove in 1886, many of these articles reflected aspects of their new South Florida surroundings, including the Seminoles for whom they developed a deeply felt concern and a mutual relationship of affection and trust. The home they built, called the "Scrububs,” was located near another prominent Biscayne Bay resident who, coincidentally, also had the same last name and who would soon be about the business of building a famous Miami landmark. According to many early Grove settlers, both he and and his wife added much to life about the Bay. 


Posted at 06:00 AM on May 26, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Who moved to the Miami area in 1870 and proceeded to buy all the bay front land between the Miami River and Coconut Grove?

Brickells-Coconut Grove

The land in question. Detroit Publishing Co., circa 1905. HistoryMiami, 1986-144-43.

Hailing from Ohio this couple arrived in the Miami area in 1870, opening an Indian trading post the following year and acquiring a large tract of land for $3000, bounded by the Miami River on the north and Coconut Grove on the south. According to Emma Gilpin, William was regarded as a real character in the Bay area, enlivening conversation with his vivid accounts of visits to Japan and Australia. Before coming to Miami, he had been a "wild catter" in the burgeoning oil business and had prospered thereby; hence the ready cash for large land purchases and the establishment of a trading post, located at the mouth of the Miami River on the south bank thereof. The trading post came to stand three stories high, crowned by a cupola, rising above the sea of coconut palms by which it was surrounded. Physically and entrepreneurially, it dominated the Miami scene until the late 1890s. Nearby, the Brickells eventually built a handsome residence, graced with classic columns and featuring a large piazza, overlooking the bay. It was built in sections up north and shipped down "for further assembly.” 


Posted at 06:00 AM on May 19, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Possessing an operatic voice destined to become world renowned, he made his American debut in Miami. Who was he ?


Program for the debut. HistoryMiami, gift of Sandra Burlowe.

In 1965, at the height of her career, Joan Sutherland came to Miami to perform the part she really "owned" at the time, Lucia di Lammermoor, the title role in Donizetti's famous opera. As it happened, the tenor who was to sing opposite her (in the role of Edgardo) developed a throat condition and felt unable to perform. Miss Sutherland was determined that the vacancy could best be filled by a young tenor whom she and her husband, the conductor Richard Bonynge, had heard in Europe. His voice had greatly impressed them. The impresario of the Miami Opera Company at the time, Arturo di Filippi, felt a singer of Sutherland's fame (known affectionately by the Italians as "la Stupenda") called for a tenor of more stature in the operatic world. The tenor in question was, after all, just starting his career in Europe and was unknown on this side of the Atlantic. But Joan Sutherland was insistent, and she got her way. So, the tenor was summoned from Europe and had his American debut right here in Miami at the Dade County Auditorium.



Posted at 06:00 AM on May 12, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

What was not one of the Biscayne Bay area's characteristics which strongly attracted Ralph Munroe to it?

Ralph Munroe

Ralph Munroe (center). Ralph Munroe Collection, HistoryMiami, 84D-1.

In his book, The Commodore's Story, Ralph Munroe recalled his first encounter with the Miami River in 1877. Sailing up from Key West he described it as a beautiful clear-water stream, its banks lined with towering coco-palms and mangroves. Recalling the agreeable surroundings and salubrious climate, he returned in 1881 with his new wife, whose sick condition might, he hoped, be improved thereby. Unfortunately, such was not to be the case. She died and was buried here. In spite of that tragedy, the area had a hold on him which caused him to return each winter, until, in 1886, he made Coconut Grove his permanent home. "My favorable impression of Biscayne Bay was deep and lasting," Munroe recalled. "Undoubtedly, the first element in this was the incomparable climate. Along with this  . . . was the sea-lover's eager appreciation of this sailors paradise, in which storms, fogs, ice and many other marine hazards were either unknown or rare. There was also a keen fascination in the varied humanity drawn to the wilderness." On the other hand, Munroe was far less sanguine about the arrival of Flagler's railroad and the development it promised. While not denying the advantages incurred by the onset of these outside influences, Munroe looked back wistfully to an earlier isolated, unspoiled, sparsely populated period, known as "The Era of the Bay.”


Posted at 06:00 AM on May 5, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

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