Will this old house in Coral Gables be moved? Or will a drive to keep it in place succeed?

As communities grow, sometimes history can disappear.

The latest preservation appeal is for a little stucco and stone cottage at 603 Minorca in Coral Gables that is nearly 100 years old. It is one of the earliest homes designed by “first generation” architect H. George Fink.

The house, one of the first structures in the area, is constructed on a rare coral rock stem foundation that is integrated with the structure along with its chimney. It was designated a historic landmark in 2005.

It is the property owner’s intent to relocate the house, divide the double lot and build a new two-story home on the site.

The “Save 603 Minorca” petition is now collecting signatures opposing the proposed relocation of the historic house. The link with more details is https://www.change.org/keep603minorca

“The northern streets of ‘Old Coral Gables’ were the first to be developed by founder George Merrick, and include the earliest homes in the area, dating from the 1920s. The different styles of the houses provide a virtual textbook of the distinctive architectural heritage that makes our community unique,” the petition states.

Karelia Martinez Carbonell, president of the Historic Preservation Association of Coral Gables, said her group is again lending its support to neighbors who are taking a stand in the latest preservation battle.

“For the first time, the change.org platform was introduced in support of the latest petition, which asks the city’s preservation board to reject relocating the historic resource.

“In less than 24 hours, more than 100 signatures were gathered. The goal is to reach 500 before the city’s next preservation board meeting,” she said. There are now almost 300 signatures to preserve the house.

According to the petition, “Previous examples of attempts to move such century old structures on original coral rock foundations have resulted in complete collapse.”

RARE MAP RETURNS HOME

Coral Gables Vice Mayor Vince Lago purchased this rare 1924 map after finding it up for auction online. The Lago Family is donating the map to the Coral Gables Museum where it will be on permanent display in the Arva Moore Parks “Creating the Dream” gallery.
Coral Gables Vice Mayor Vince Lago purchased this rare 1924 map after finding it up for auction online. The Lago Family is donating the map to the Coral Gables Museum where it will be on permanent display in the Arva Moore Parks “Creating the Dream” gallery.

In a successful quest to save history, a rare official map of Coral Gables has traveled 2,600 miles from La Jolla, California, back to Coral Gables where it will be put on permanent display at the Coral Gables Museum.

Museum Executive Director John Allen said the map, released by the Coral Gables Corporation in January 1924, was created over a year before Coral Gables was incorporated.

Vice Mayor Vince Lago and his wife, Olga, donated the map to the museum after Lago discovered it being auctioned online by a firm specializing in rare antique maps.

Allen said, “there was spirited bidding for the piece, but realizing it was a unique opportunity, the vice mayor prevailed.”

At the suggestion of the Lago family, the map will be displayed in honor of the late Arva Moore Parks in the museum’s “Creating the Dream” gallery. Parks created the permanent exhibit and remained its curator until her death in May.

“Our family is blessed to be in a position where we could purchase this wonderful work for the museum, where it can displayed in perpetuity for all to enjoy,” Lago said when presenting the map to the museum. “Olga and I are very happy that we are able to personally acknowledge and pay tribute to Ms. Parks in this special manner.”

The Morrison-Wood Company executed the 19.5” by 19.5” comprehensive map exclusively for the Coral Gables Corporation and George E. Merrick.

It is in pristine condition and every lot in the original section of what was referred to as “America’s Finest Suburb” is delineated to scale, Allen said.

It is also unique in that many sites we know today are highlighted and identified in red lettering, including the first fire station, Venetian Pool, the site of the Biltmore Hotel.

It also includes numerous buildings that have long since disappeared, including the Coral Gables Inn, and the College of Young Women of the Sisters of Saint Joseph that occupied both sides of Almeria near Indian Mound Trail.

“This is truly an outstanding treasure, and the museum is honored to have this important piece of Coral Gables history,” said Museum Chair Christopher Spuches. “On behalf of John Allen and our entire Board, we are very grateful to the Lago family.”

The map, with new customized and protective framing, will be unveiled at a reception to thank the Lago family for their generosity, Allen said.

OUTRUN HUNGER 5K IS SEPT. 26

You can make a difference in the lives of an estimated 1.4 million neighbors throughout Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade and Monroe counties who are suffering from food insecurity. The need for food assistance has more than doubled as a result of the pandemic.

Feeding South Florida’s 10th annual Outrun Hunger 5K, presented by JM Family Enterprises during Hunger Action Month, will be a virtual race to maintain safety.

Participants can run or walk their favorite 5K route 7 a.m. to 5:45 p.m. Sept. 26. Photos with the hashtag #FeedingSouthFlorida will be featured on Feeding South Florida’s social media channels. They can receive a T-shirt and medal at a drive-thru packet pick-up or via mail.

To register, visit outrunhunger.eventbrite.com and you can donate or volunteer to help those struggling at https://feedingsouthflorida.org/covid19/

MENTAL HEALTH FESTIVAL IS FREE

Anxiety and depression that can lead to suicide has been heightened because of the pandemic, but experts say it is also helping people reach out for help.

According to psychologist Isaiah Pickens, founder of iOpening Enterprises, “Talking about suicide can actually lower the risk of self-harm. Expressing your honest emotions to others can enable you to confront your fears, and realize that you are not alone.”

Pickens is organizing the first Free Minds Festival, an interactive event to help business leaders and employees focus on mental health and workplace isolation.

Free Minds Festival is geared toward “millennial professionals who are in leadership positions, management-bound, or rising-stars who are looking to promote wellness and racial equity in their workplace.”

The event will feature guest speakers. Musical artists will also perform and talk about their feelings of vulnerability in the pandemic. Register at https://www.freemindsfestival.com/ The festival starts at noon Sept. 25.

If you have news for this column, write to [email protected]

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