The restoration of Vizcaya condemns the old science museum

Written by Samantha Sheradsky on June 28, 2022


Say goodbye to the old Miami Science Museum. In another step toward the restoration of the county-owned Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, which is expected to begin next month, the old science museum and planetarium building will come down.

The first phase involves demolishing the non-historic buildings at the Vizcaya Farming Village site west of Bayshore Drive and constructing an attractive uniform fence along the adjacent Bay Heights neighborhood. One of these buildings is the old science museum.

The area will also be landscaped with native Pine Rockland pines.

The works of this phase were entrusted to a general contractor. A few permits were approved by subcontractors who started with temporary fencing to prepare for the construction process.

The project has received various permit approvals since January. Some specific design solutions have not yet been approved.

“I anticipate over the next month that we will see some activity,” Vizcaya senior manager Martha Akins said. “Most of it will be hidden as it is behind construction fences and these are the early months of the project.”

The village is the historic property opposite the main house and gardens which businessman James Deering began building in 1912 on 180 acres. A member of the Deering Harvester Co., he had a keen interest in landscaping and plant conservation, both of which played a part in the design of Vizcaya.

Mr Deering, who had been told by doctors that the sun and heat would help ease the symptoms of anemia, planned to restore his health in Vizcaya but died in 1925 and left the villa and estate to his half-brother , Charles. In 1953 the Deering family donated the property to the county with the deed specifying that it was to be used to preserve the historic integrity of the house and garden and to be used as a museum.

To finance the restoration of the farming village, Vizcaya used proceeds from the county’s general bonds, so it is fully funded. Vizcaya has not received any donations for this phase of development.

The overall plan for this restoration has remained the same, Ms. Akins told Miami Today.

When Vizcaya officials started working on this project, the first phase was split into two separate subsets because they didn’t know how much the project would cost.

“We’ve broken it down into a huge sum that will come from the general obligation bond,” Ms Akins said.

The next phase will be to repair the driveway to the Farm Village Garage and Superintendent’s House, which is the historic building used by the Superintendent who worked in Vizcaya. It is funded by general obligation bond money, but Vizcaya received a $500,000 grant for it. Officials are currently preparing for the construction of this structure once the permit has been approved.

“I anticipate that we should resolve all of this by this month,” Ms Akins said.

Construction was expected to begin in the last half of 2021, Vizcaya executive director Joel Hoffman told Miami Today in February 2021.

Twelve of the 43 county-owned acres that make up the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens were set aside for the use of the Miami Science Museum between 1960 and 2015, when its doors closed. The museum reopened as the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science in a huge new downtown facility in 2017.

That same year, Miami-Dade commissioners approved a master plan for the former site of the science museum and the scattering of buildings that once served as workshops, barns, stables and staff quarters for employees. of the domain.

“Vizcaya’s future centers on the restoration and use of the village,” said the plan by MC Harry Associates and Quinn Evans Architects.

Mr Hoffman told Miami Today in 2021 that the plan also included building a greenhouse, setting up a visitor arrival area and historic exhibits, and linking to the Metrorail and the Underline.

A later phase, he said, was to include the rehabilitation of the staff residence and a barn for “publicly accessible collection facilities” and the transformation of three farm buildings into an educational “quadrangle”.

The final phase was to include a new community courtyard with visitor amenities, additional workspaces and greenhouses, as well as renewal of the property’s parking lot.

Five years ago, county commissioners approved an agreement with the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens Trust Inc. to operate the Coconut Grove Museum and Historic Landmark and find jobs for its employees who wanted to continue working for Miami-Dade. .

About Carlos V. Mitchell

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