The city of Coral Gables was developed by George Merrick with the conception of “The Beautiful City” an architectural movement from the late 1800’s and early 1900’s that includes the “Beaux-Arts” style characteristic to many buildings not only in Coral Gables but also can be seen in Downtown Miami. Merrick a visioner himself created unique villages in to the City, on a plan that only Walt Disney could conceive; Merrick was determined to make this town beautiful.
I invite you to take a closer look to the villages and admire the architecture, the gardens, the arched gates and feel like you have travelled around the globe in less than a day.
The Italian Village: Stroll on Montserrat, Palmarito and Altara Avenues, the homes here will transport you to the Villas of the 17th century in Italy. Frank Wyatt Woods designed them in 1926.
The French Villages: Conceived after 18th century French country farm houses and chateaux; these villages are located on the 500 to 1000 block of Hardee Road.
French Normandy Village: Did you notice when driving on traffic on LeJeune Road the particular houses by the 400 block of Vizcaya Ave? These are the 15th century homes found in England and France; constructed here in the 1930’s.
Pioneer Village: When driving or walking around Santa Maria Street by the Golf Course of The Biltmore Hotel; take a look at the Colonial Village with tall pillars, white picket fences, two story porticoes.
Chinese Village: The colorful Chinese compound style residences were designed in 1926 and you can see them on the 5100 blocks of Riviera Drive, Menendez, Castania, Maggiore and Sansovino Avenues.
Dutch South African Village: Designed by Palm Beach Architect Marion Syms Wyeth, these L and U shaped farmhouses resemble the homes of the wealthy Dutch colonists and you can see them on LeJeune Road and Riviera Drive, Maya Street.
The predominant architectural lines in Coral Gables are the 1920’s Mediterranean Revival Style and The Spanish Renaissance often confused with the 1930’s Art Deco because of the timeline between styles.
The entrances to Coral Gables
George Merck also envisioned eight different entrances to Coral Gables inspired in Spanish hill towns; only four were completed. You may drive by almost everyday but take a pause and look around a piece of history on your very own town.
The Douglas entrance (on Douglas and 8th Street) also called "La Puerta del Sol" is one of the most elaborated built between 1925 and 1927. It is registered on the National Registry of Historic Places. (A view of the impotent building connected to the gate “Puerta del Sol”)
The Granada Entrance: Located at Granada Blvd and SW 8th st built on coral rock (limestone). The arch spans Granada Blvd which is a historic roadway. (Montserrat Franco wearing a Sicilian-Byzantine dress from the Dolce & Gabbana collection at the coral rock gate)
The Prado entrance: Located at the NW corner of the City of Coral Gables at S.W. 8th Street and S.W. 57th Avenue (Red Road). For years the Country Club Prado Arch has been a setting for photography, specially wedding, engagement, etc.
The Alhambra Entrance: Located at S.W. 37 Avenue (Douglas Road), Majorca Avenue and Alhambra Circle.
The Alhambra entry arch is also known as the commercial entry to Coral Gables, as Alhambra Circle leads to the central business district and Miracle Mile.
So much to explore in Coral Gables that you may want to come back for more, a long walk around charming homes with clustered buganvilias on limestone walls; unexpected fountains; spanish coats of arms on pillars and immense banyan trees to get the feeling of that Mediterranean getaway not so far away from home.
By Montserrat Franco (BC, AIS, USSA Certified)
Pictures by Yann Rio taken in Coral Gables
You can find more Montserrat Franco's work on her social media accounts