Monday, April 18, 2011


Palm Beach may be the center of wealth and influence in Florida now, but at the turn of the 20th century, South Miami was the place to build your castle in the sand.

In 1916, James Deering, V.P. of International Harvester, completed construction on his winter home “Vizcaya” on Biscayne Bay, just south of Miami. It has 34 rooms, and one of the largest private gardens in Florida. Deering and his architects traveled extensively throughout Europe seeking inspiration before designing the home and gardens, combining elements of Renaissance Italian and French designs. The house was intended to appear as an Italian estate that had stood for 400 years and had been occupied and renovated by several generations of a family. More than 1000 workers were employed in the construction process.

The house and gardens were eventually sold to the city in 1952 at well below current value and Deering’s heirs generously donated all the furnishings and artwork, provided the house would be opened to the public as a museum.

When the house was built, it contained an open courtyard and the entire home was open to the east. The breezes must have been lovely. Today, large glass doors and a pavilion style glass roof help to keep the interior furnishings and the priceless artwork safe for generations to come. A bit of a shame really. It’s still a very beautiful house and has spectacular gardens, but one can only imagine arriving at the obviously Venice-inspired boat landing and walking up the coral stone steps through the airy portico and into the courtyard. It must have been grand. I’ve included a link to some interior photos as photography isn’t allowed inside the mansion.

Vizcaya is definitely worth a visit if you’re in the Miami area.

More of my exterior photos Here
Vizcaya-Interior photos by house photographer


  1. Nice post - I enjoyed the story

  2. Very interesting Greg. I had no idea there was a place like this in Florida. I enjoyed the read and images.