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Stylish Tropical Modernism on the Water in South Beach
Carl Fisher, clever developer of all of Miami Beach, knew very well the future pleasures of the resort island he was creating and that SoBe's very best vistas would be found along the western edge of North Bay Road reflecting over the water and palms to the fabulous sunsets above Miami. He was so enamored with North Bay Road that he built his own home here and so overwhelmed with the painted skies that he named the islands he created islands in the Bay after the experience, The Sunset Islands.
Listing Price: Sold
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Carl Fisher, clever developer of all of Miami Beach, knew very well the future pleasures of the resort island he was creating and that SoBe's very best vistas would be found along the western edge of North Bay Road reflecting over the water and palms to the fabulous sunsets above Miami. He was so enamored with North Bay Road that he built his own home here and so overwhelmed with the painted skies that he named the islands he created islands in the Bay after the experience, The Sunset Islands. Leaving little to chance at his very favorite locations along North Bay Road, he enforced a "wide lagoon" feeling between the lucky few home sites and those Sunset Islands as the road began its journey north from Lincoln Road and Alton. His favorite lots on North Bay Road were the ones which were sited along the axis of the wide canals separating these Sunset islands knowing the combination of very wide water, lovely homes hidden by palm trees across a lagoon, and the sunset skies reflected down these grand canals could only produce a seductive mix of colors, openness, and scented air that would not be matched anywhere else in the continental United States.
This was time of elegant "winter-only" living in Miami Beach where those who could afford to winter anywhere arrived by private rail car and enough servants to carry the bathing costumes, white pants, a blue blazer or two, and a couple of tuxedos. Everything else could be purchased for the season at Burdines or sent from New York by sea. Air conditioning was really unnecessary here because by the time it did become hot and humid, you were already back in the Hamptons or Maine. Homes here were a reflection of a slow, but full life with attention to details and a huge amount of entertaining in al fresco spaces which captured prevailing southeast ocean breezes as did the sleeping rooms of the finer homes- always upstairs with lots of windows to capture the breeze on one side of the house and lots of windows to allow it to exit on the west.
So, by the luck of an architectural style with huge windows and glass doors everywhere in the 1940s, inviting covered porches and hidden tree-covered courtyards, the most stylish of these homes have survived the rush to own the biggest house on the block. All of the waterfront Deco survivors fit a standard of architecture that placed the home back from street and further isolated it with garden courtyards and then opened them up to the west. The luckiest of these homes have been lovingly maintained and occasionally updated to reflect modern needs. In all of these senses, this residence is the luckiest of the lucky few.
The current owners thankfully recognized the treasure of this 1940s "Deco meets Streamline" home and further enhanced its position with a lovely restoration that expanded the master by doubling it within the existing second floor to recapture the cross ventilation. Their designer placed the bed to enjoy both the garden and the water views and totally updated the master bath to bring it the classic shower and separate spa tub with the great views. It was time for the 21st Century luxury update to the great house which included a new white roof, upgrading the tropical pool area to add more dock space, an automatic chlorine- salt system to the refinished pool, a 11,000 pound lift for the Jefferson Marlago 35' cabin cruiser (available for separate purchase), additional dockage for another 50' boat, and a newly created dog stairway to allow the Lab to swim with the passing dolphins.
Perhaps the best decision was to add a delightful poolside pavilion with dining area, full wet bar, Bosch grill, and refrigerators along with and a separate cabana building with outdoor shower, “jungle” dressing room, and a towel attendant service area complete with a second full set of washing machines and dryers. Additional modern touches elsewhere included an "auto switch over, whole house" 65 KW generator hidden in the garden, along with a full update of electrical wiring, interior and exterior stereo wiring, and the updating of each bathroom to a Waterworks standard. And speaking of air conditioning, well... we can hardly live without it even when we don’t “need” it… so all of that was redone including a new duct system throughout the house. How they missed the wine cellar in the 1941 edition is a mystery, but is now thankfully resolved and in a discrete location.
The new cook's kitchen and its adjacent service area were totally redone and custom fitted with new cabinetry, gas and electric appliances, and calacatta marble counters. Extensive landscaping completed the updating adding an obligatory white sandy beach and of course, no update would be complete without a 1950s playful set of pink flamingos. (OK, if you ever get asked this on a quiz...the first three-dimensional flamingo in plastic was sculpted by Don Fetherstone in 1957...and yes, there are no flamingos in Hawaii so they should not be seen on your Hawaiian shirts either.) Back to the main event-
The entry to the residence is classic “Carl Fisher” in that one passes through MIMO metal gates and into a heavily landscaped courtyard for autos and motor toys prior to walking up to what appears to be the front door. But it is not. This doorway, with its detailed, period plaster frame opens to reveal the properly dimensioned loggia which in turns opens to a private courtyard with classic terrazzo floors beneath its outdoor dining table. On the few nights that the winds are chilly, this protected terrace is a dreamy venue for intimate dinners open to the sky. Its mature trees hide the metal grill work that separates the covered passage to the loggia from the two car garage and the exterior gardens and the spectacular 1940s concrete palm forms, approximately 2 feet in diameter that were elegant airways between the gardens. A newly created wine room with chilled space for nearly 1,250 bottles also opens to this courtyard. Tropical planting includes ground orchids, bird's nest ferns, and Florida' native grasses which feature plumes of purple in the autumn. If one continues down the loggia, the true front door of the house is reached. Once this door opens, a beautiful living room invites guests into a large space with glass doors and windows on either side opening both back onto the private courtyard and then out to a covered seating area opening in turn to the pool and its pavilion, dock, and lagoon. Its "candles only" fireplace features turquoise glass insets that answer to the colors waiting just outside. Beyond the living room is a cozy family room with vistas to the lagoon side patios and tropical plants to the south. A hallway which leads to a warmly decorated, home office is cleverly tucked out of the view line. At the other end of this hallway is a media room which could double as a guest room with its luxurious steam-sauna bath with garden views and dedicated luggage storage closets.
Returning to the formal foyer near the front door, one enters a dining room looking onto the pool and lagoon beyond cleverly sealed by a solid door between it and an “eat-in” cook’s kitchen stocked to the “9s” with luxurious Viking Professional gas range, see-through Sub Zero refrigerators, and all of the modern conveniences on calacatta marble surfaces. Beyond the kitchen is the true maid’s room with all of the space for a full bedroom and full bath used as a service area along with a set of Miele washer-dryer. Returning to the formal foyer via a service door in the kitchen, one passes the guest powder room with clever jungle interior and, typical of the 1940s, a high window opening to the loggia. Back at the foyer, the choice is now to ascend the staircase to the 3 residential bedroom suites upstairs. Unlike "big box" modern homes, here natural light flows everywhere. Each of the bedroom suites are separated on the corners of the house and each has long views to the gardens, a private terrace, and all have baths with natural light and water views of the lagoon. The master suite, accessed by a corridor which has French doors opening to the terrace above the private courtyard, was actually two bedrooms in the 1941 floor plan which have now become one master suite with spectacular bath. The master is highlighted by a spa tub positioned for a view to the lagoon and pool while drifting away under the trance of the spa jets.
Every aspect of the renovation was done with a passion for fully exploiting the exceptional view lines of the home, its supreme level of privacy, and with a respect for acknowledging its sense of the 1940s. When pine floors needed updating, "original width" pieces were used as well as the keystone used extensively in the update. A rare opportunity for romance, privacy, quiet enjoyment, blissful waterside entertainment, and a Zen-like ability to retreat as desired from the whirlwind of life in South Beach exists in this exceedingly refined tropical residence.
For more information on this property, contact Rex Hamilton at (305) 441-2828 or click HERE to contact us now.