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Lovely Home in the County French Village in Coral Gables
Listing Price: Sold
Click on photos below to enlarge
If there was ever a house that captured the original spirit of Coral Gables, this is it! When George Merrick conceived of a totally new master planned community on this piney ridge of land west of Miami in the 1920s, he did a number of things just right. The first that comes to mind is the architectural themes that he chose for the residential zones of the city. Particularly forward in these themes were the villages within the city designed to anchor the rest of its neighborhoods. Chief among the surviving villages are the French Villages, Colonial and County respectably and both these villages are resident along a street which Merrick envisioned as one of his most important social addresses, Hardee Road. Highly sought after by native Miamians who understand the history of the place and by architecturally sensitive visitors as well, these homes represent a glimpse into the grandeur of an earlier, more tranquil period of time. To live in them is to experience the calm of life centered on entertaining friends and family within easy access to the hub of a modern city.
Another excellent idea that George Merrick had for his new city was to utilize the designs of the best architects of the roaring twenties. Merrick selected designers to create smaller model homes near the city hall where he could both test them and their designs for this tropical environment. One of his favorite architects, Frank Forster, went on to design several unique homes and certainly a most representative home of the period is lovely 500 Hardee Road.
If you lived in New York City in the 1920s or if you were an American architect living anywhere in this period, you would know of Frank Forster. Forster was considered as one of the absolute leaders in design of French homes in America that were true to the original models. He was revered by his peers and many of his homes appeared in Architectural Record through the 1920s and 1930s when he was most active in design. His international experience and acclaim caught the attention of Mr. Merrick early in the selection process for Merrick's villages. Even today Forster's elegant design at 500 Hardee still amazes those schooled in the fine art of understatement and historical preservation.
The home at 500 Hardee Road was officially recognized and designated a Landmark by the Historic Preservation Board in October 1989. The French Country Village's other 11 houses entered into formal designation as the French Eighteenth Century Village Historic District also in late 1989. Neighboring 508, 528, and 536 Hardee are the only other examples of Forster's work in this historic district. All 12 homes were built between 1925 and 1926 by the American Building Corporation of Ohio. Their provincial style is evident in towers and steeply-pitched cross-gabled or hipped roofs featuring shingles. As it has always been considered extremely fashionable to live in one of these village houses, these homes have undergone very little alteration with the exception of the closure of porches as air conditioning became accepted as new technology and updates of the actual windows.
Owners aren't the only ones aware of the need to maintain, refresh and update the treasures of this village. The City allows modern updates to the interiors and exterior modification within the spirit of the original style guidelines and has a process in place for efficient handling of the permit process. (Please refer to the following documents which are available at rexhamilton.com online: A Guide to Historic Preservation in Coral Gables, Coral Gables Historic Preservation Definitions, Historic Preservation Frequently Asked Questions, Coral Gables Article 31 , US Department of Interior publication "The Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation and Guidelines for Rehabilitating Historic Buildings.") For those desiring a return to the 1920s in areas like the bath and kitchen, tax credits are available for those who qualify. The City also offers certain tax credits for improvements to this house. Please see "Local Tax Incentives for Improvements to Historic Properties."
500 Hardee commands the southwest corner of two important streets, both tree-lined and beautiful. On its east border are mature and large specimen Royal Poinciana trees from Madagascar which turn a brilliant orange in the warm summer months.
The home may be entered formally through either the north or east faces with welcoming foyer and period staircase. The warm living room features a fireplace and may be accessed through either formal entrance. Beyond the foyers are areas now used as a cozy bar, dining room, Florida and family room, which lead to an eat-in kitchen with adjacent tower office or den. This space has also housed more a few nannies or maids in the life of the home. Next to the tower stairs is a full bath on one side and a large laundry room on the other. Abundant period architectural elements of the house include its archways, plaster arches at ceiling line in the porch, and a remarkable, elegant 20s staircase leading to the sleeping quarters. On the second floor are 4 bedrooms and 2 baths with ample room for expansion of the master and its bath if desired.
Of course its swimming pool is both large and heated with plenty of terrace area for lounging, entertaining, or reading. From the kitchen, steps lead to a back yard with mature trees and a side entrance to a 2 car garage.
This is a home for the buyer who enjoys collecting architectural treasures of the 1920s and desires to be surrounded by a collection of charming French County houses within a designated historic village yet minutes from everywhere you would want to go in Modern Miami including its airport and beaches. The lucky few who have been able to acquire this treasure have extended the vision for tranquil living at an important address defined early in the 20th century by one its most important village developer's and his favorite French American architect.
For more information on this property, contact Rex Hamilton at (305) 441-2828 or click HERE to contact us now.