Sunday, March 17, 2013

POSTCARDS FROM MIAMI

And, a HAPPY ST. PATRICKS DAY to you! Perhaps you will join the throngs to the Sunday Champagne Brunch at the Biltmore? A mere $100.00 a seat. 

Zeus and I opted for the less stress Continental Breakfast is an adjacent restaurant.

We leave for Palm Island today. No word from the cat sitter so I assume all is well back at home. The weather here is still what the locals call unseasonably cool. Zeus and I are running around in shorts and quite comfortable. I notice some of the staff arriving this morning in their winter jackets.


In 1926 the Miami Biltmore Country Club opened it's doors. Developer George E. Merrick founded the University of Miami, developed the suburbs of Coral Gables and designed this 276 room hotel and resort.


The place has had it's ups and downs. With WWII the Biltmore was converted to a hospital by the War Department. And, up until 1968 it was an early site of the University of Miami's School of Medicine and VA Hospital.

Abandoned in the early 70s the City of Coral Gables gained control of the Biltmore. They kept it closed for 10 years. During that time, nearby residents would often call the police because they thought vagrants were living in the building. Strange lights, windows opening and closing. Police would show up with dogs, go through the entire building and find nothing. 
This place has a ton of resident ghosts it is said.

Then the city oversaw a full restoration which took almost 4 years and $47 million dollars and reopened in l987. Unfortunately, cities aren't the best for running hotels or even doing restoration.  The place closed in three years due to financial difficulties.

Then the big boys came in.  In 1992 a consortium of multinational interests led by Seaway Hotel Corporation poured new money and more restoration into the place and reopened.
This is a popular spot for wedding receptions. Many of the brides get married in this little church across the street.
Flat fee, $20,000.00.  I'm guessing that doesn't include flowers and an organist. 

Yesterday, I sat in the lobby and watched a bride get her picture taken 100 different ways on these steps. 
If you have been a long time reader you know that I used to love to wander down to the local botanical garden during summer and observe (yes, I know some would say crash) the outdoor weddings.
I think brides are pretty. What can I say?
They got me when I walked in the doorway and saw the lobby ceiling. GORGEOUS. 
And, how they found a statue of Zeus contemplating a swim in the pool, I don't know. Isn't he a cutie?
I love the grandeur, the over the top. I wish I was the time traveler and could move through the lobby with the Roosevelt's and Vanderbilt's, Garland, Crosby and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.

This hotel was built AFTER my Great Aunt Elvie's time here, in Miami.
She was a companion/nurse and driver for a wealthy woman in Shamokin. They came down to Miami, during its beginnings as a fashionable resort area. Great Aunt Elvie, a flapper I am told and also a nurse must have loved her gig.
She would have been driving a very nice car. Staying in small hotels and enjoying the wild nightlife that Miami was just beginning to offer the public.
The family story goes that on the way home to Shamokin, Pennsylvania they stowed bottles of rum in the trunk of their car. 
My Great Aunt a rum runner.  sigh

Enjoy your day. Not to much of that green beer now.

:)Bea


1 comment:

  1. Aunt Elvie! What a woman! Ahead of her time. Love, love, love the photos of the hotel. What a beautiful place! I'm going to use your ceiling shot in the blog:) Too beautiful.

    Cincinnati is rainy and 36. I'll get my sun vicariously through you. But wear your sunscreen! D

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