• close family • small boat • big world •


May 21, 2014

by Nicole
Coconut Grove (Miami), Florida

Vizcaya Museum and Gardens is an exquisite mansion turned into a museum.  It is located in Miami, Florida.  I visited Vizcaya with my mom and my friend Claire.  It was built and owned by James Deering, founder of International Harvester.  He bought 180 acres of mangrove swamps and tropical forests.  Since he was a conservationist, he built the estate along the shore to preserve the forests.  The portion he was building on included a villa, an Italian Renaissance formal garden, recreational amenities, expansive lagoon gardens, grazing fields, and a village services compound.  Vizcaya was built to look like an 18th century villa that had been there for a long time, but it also had modern conveniences like an intercom system and a dumb-waiter.  All of this was built from 1914 to 1916.

The landscape and architecture of Vizcaya was designed in the Mediterranean Revival style.  Paul Chalfin was the design director for Vizcaya.  The house was used as a winter residence from 1916 to 1925.  It was named after the Spanish province Vizcaya.  Records indicate that James Deering also wanted the name to refer to an early Spaniard named Vizcaya who explored the area, but the explorer's name turned out to be Sebastian Vizcayo instead.  The symbol and emblem of Vizcaya is the caravel, which is a type of ship used during the Age of Exploration.

James Deering's two nieces inherited Vizcaya when Deering died in 1925.  Over the years the property suffered damage from hurricanes and maintenance costs became too expensive, so the nieces started selling off some of the property.  In 1952, Miami-Dade Country bought the villa and gardens for one million dollars, and it was turned into an art museum.  In 1994, Vizcaya was designated as a National Historic Landmark.

It was a really amazing experience going to Vizcaya.  Even though it wasn't my style, everything was lavish and extravagant.  I'm really glad I got to visit.