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1729 SW 12 Street, Miami, FL 33135____ email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Featured on www.homeaway.com/vacation-rental/p174127
Mission, Side View
web log: www.lostreefcottage.net
(Rental Information: www.homeaway.com/vacation-rental/p173947 )
Viewable on Google Maps at http://g.co/maps/rjkqf
Your happy hosts: Paul Hampton Crockett, Alan Langdon
“Dedicated to the Pursuit and Constant Refinement of that Great ‘Florida Dream.’”
With grateful acknowledgment to the University of Miami Digital Initiative, an amazing historic and visual resource. http://merrick.library.miami.edu/
MIAMI is my hometown, as it was my father’s before me, and I am interested in its history. Yet history is an extremely fleeting thing in this city, incorporated only in 1896. The dreamers, schemers, and builders relentlessly driving the city forward have been primarily obsessed with visions of “progress” and the shimmering horizon of the always-great future, and rarely paused to look back even for a moment. Consequently, much of its rich, various, and abundant architectural heritage has been carelessly discarded and often ground to dust.
The demolition of this particular building proved a “flash point,” as the cutting-edge historic preservation effort was then well underway, and the owner apparently nervous. The movement suddenly burst into flame, and the die was cast. History seems to be judging the results kindly: as it turns out, honoring and protecting those old buildings was visionary wisdom, and an absolute triumph.
THE house we have come to call “the Mission” is old by Miami standards, built in 1927. The city was then only thirty years old. That time and place is now long gone and nearly forgotten, even hard to imagine.
Mouth of Miami River, ca. 1906. Below, today.
(Courtesy of Google maps.)
It was a time when people had time to visit, as those from the South say, and kept always on hand some iced tea, soda pop, or what have you, for neighbors “just passing by.”
“Royal Oak Arch Tree, Miami”
Mangroves, Sunny Isles.
Ocean Drive, South of Lincoln Road. (1912)
Even well into the late ’20’s, the Eastern edge of the “Great River of Grass” known as the Everglades lay just along where 27th Avenue now runs North/ South. Ten blocks west of where the Mission sits.
SO I love to listen for clues. The Mission is just a house, a simple one, really, and offers no pretension of being anything else. But it has been well-loved, and much lived in. The fact that it still remains, even retaining its stubborn dignity, in a place where history is so very disposable, means something.
And old houses talk. Always, to those who take the time to listen and are willing to pay attention. They tell stories, louder than words and often more honestly. Like people, they are conceived with great hope, and embody a portion of some greater dream. They too have their seasons, endure the wear and tear of experience, and witness their days of glory and decline. The idea of “home” could not be more integral to the great “American dream,” nor to any of our notions of society or community. And the ends of their stories, as ours, are as of yet still unwritten.
There is something about vintage homes, to me, that is special. The world is ever changing, and I suppose always has been. Yet I cannot imagine that the felt velocity of those changes has ever seemed greater, and nowhere might their impact be felt more intensely or keenly than in this sprawling, multicultural, chaotic, “happening” of a place that is Metropolitan Miami. So I find myself grounded in the architecture of the past.
The American homestead of great-grandparents Johann & Mathilde Petersen & their two daughters, Kathe and Annelise, ca. 1920, following the family’s immigration from their ancestral home of Flensburg, Germany. Within fairly short order my Great-Grandfather had carved out of the true wilderness of the Redlands, about thirty miles south of Miami, a producing citrus grove/ working horticultural science laboratory / expansive garden of exotic tropical fruit /tourist attraction called “Bonita Groves.”
Mathilde & Johann. Annelise was my paternal grandmother and a fifth-grade teacher at nearby Coral Way Elementary for decades. Older sister Kathe was also a lifetime schoolteacher (known as Mrs. Wilson) and much-beloved, teaching German to generations of students at Coral Gables High School.
A wonderful riff on the Great Florida Dream, helping “sell” the Dream of Bonita Groves. Witness my great-grandfather sipping a pina colada while his wife toils away the creation of one of the many citrus-based products churned out by the Grove.
Annelise now lays at rest with her “one and only,” my grandfather, Howard Bruce Crockett, under the oak-shaded lawn of the historic Miami City Cemetery. They are both loved, and well earned their rest. May they share an unending dream of joy together.
WE cannot do other than move forward, but as the days seem to fly by ever more quickly I find in older homes an excellent “starting point” for living my life, one that helps soothe me and enriches my experience. Something about them quietly whispers “Breathe, Paul.” “There is always time. Just breathe.” And they would know. So something within me responds, simply and gratefully, “Yes!”
The Mission is two bedrooms, one bath, and one huge vision. Its thorough renovation, from top to bottom, side to side, can be understood only as a labor of love, if indeed it is to be understood at all. That’s really the only way to describe it: the time, energy, and resources that have been invested in its renovation (or really, rebirth!) over the last couple of years defy logic or reason.
Its name seemed to come to us naturally, inspired by its Old Spanish/ “mission” style of architecture, simple and classic, and the long and winding journey on which it has led us. Its original features have been maintained whenever possible; its lighting fixtures, hardwood floors, working casement windows hand-built of Florida cypress wood, numerous inset panel and French doors throughout, all gleam as if installed maybe last Tuesday.
Original cypress wooden windows freed at last from decades-long slumber under layers of paint. Open (ahhh!), to garden View
And the home is enhanced by the best and brand new: central air/heat, under-the-counter washer & dryer, stainless steel kitchen appliances, and much much more. It is furnished in a very comfortable yet truly eclectic style, and ready for immediate enjoyment. Here is truly a “home away from home,” and you are the one for whom its many features and comforts have been prepared.
It’s simple, really: Miami is my hometown, and I am at home here. And though the city may not turn out to be at all your “cup of tea,” which would most certainly be understandable, I am nevertheless willing to go “the extra mile,” or maybe even further, so that once you’d returned home you’d be able to say, at least, that you’d had a really great place to stay while you were here, and were perhaps surprised at just how comfortable it had been!
A sitting area in your private garden, awaiting your pleasure.
In a city where real estate has been “hyped” to the extent of collective numbness, here is an experience of rare quality: a window into a simpler, more peaceful, and less pressured time, yet situated close to center of the inspired insanity and excitement that is today’s metropolis.
From Miami: an Introduction, a tourist booklet, 1919
The home sits in the heart of the city’s historic Shenandoah neighborhood, a once prominent area established years before the first cornerstone was laid in that brash “planned development” so audaciously envisioned by a young George Merrick on land that had been his father’s citrus plantation, now known as Coral Gables.
Yet that was long, long ago.
For some years the neighborhood slipped gently into a state of general decline as the fascination and restless fancy of the growing public attached to the newer and more “uniform” communities being built ever further to the West, where for millennia untold there had before been only the savage majesty of the wild Everglades, and to the South, down into the great pine forests of Cutler Ridge and Kendall, and always to the North.
“Drive to Cocoanut Grove, Miami, Fla.”
WITH the arrival of the first wave of Cuban exiles in the early 1960’s, and the multitudes that thereafter followed from that and a number of other Spanish-speaking countries, the area became known generally as part of “Little Habana.” That the neighborhood had once readily and proudly identified itself as “Shenandoah” seemed destined to become quaint fact, a cultural oddity now only hinted at only by names inscribed upon its branch Post Office, its middle and elementary schools, and so forth. The word had lost all context, and thus any meaning. Nobody cared.
The corner store here pictured in the 1930’s is still open for business, but now serving an excellent café con leche.
But the only constant is change. As the pendulum currently swings, in the Shenandoah neighborhood of Miami as in other historic neighborhoods in urban areas across the Nation, there has been a resurging groundswell of interest in the idea of “neighborhood.” The collective experience of neighborhood has taken on new life, and the idea again become relevant, immediately so, in new and vital ways. Amidst the cacophonous chaos of modern life a deep hunger has taken hold for a sense of “rootedness,” or a personal “history of place.” People seek first to understand what their neighborhood is, I suppose, in part so they might better understand where they now find themselves, and what that might mean.
Quite often the path of that inquiry leads to an exploration of what once was.
The unique dreams of a place often speak most directly of its heart.
Personally, I find my rear-view mirror to be of great and practical value as I navigate forward.
In my passion for history, particularly as it relates to my home and my hometown, I am not alone.
The Shenandoah neighborhood has not only reclaimed its identity, but steadily improved its standing as a desirable and safe place to live. Demand for the homes has remained fairly steady even in the economic free fall in which this city, along with the rest of the country, now finds itself. The area is increasingly prized for its historic architecture and central location, as traffic congestion continues (impossibly) to worsen on Miami’s roadways. Odds are, from where the Mission sits you are only minutes away from many of the places you want to be, or to see while you are here.
All of which leads us right back to the present, and to the future potential of your visit. Your comfort, enjoyment, and well-being are our driving goals. We have been waiting for you!
Miami is a sprawling city, and can be an awfully confusing place.
For larger view, simply click on image. Return to page via back arrow in your browser.
Starting to break it down just a bit, it’s helpful to understand that throughout its (relatively) brief history, the metropolis has evolved as an interconnected patchwork of neighborhoods. Here is a current “working” map of Miami’s neighborhoods, published by the City:
As explored above, the real beauty of our location is that we are only about 5 to 15 minutes from Coconut Grove, Coral Gables, downtown Miami, Key Biscayne, and Miami Beach, allowing a full experience of those generally congested and often noisy places before retreating to your own private oasis. Of the established and generally recognized neighborhoods mentioned, we are closest to the Grove. Here is a close-up of the map immediately above, with the “smiley face” marking our location:
Our locationhas served us, and our guests, well. We have had the privilege of hosting satisfied guests drawn to Miami by events or happenings in various parts of the city. For example, to Coconut Grove, for its epic annual Arts Festival, or to participate in one of the annual regattas based there, on the bayfront only 1 1/2 miles away; to the Coral Gables area, for events relating to the University of Miami, and to various other parts of the city for weddings, medical procedures, or just general sightseeing.
Wherever your plans might take you in the Miami area, please give the Mission your consideration. You are likely to find our location a sweet surprise. In this traffic-jammed, road rage rampant city, “getting there” can be more than half of the battle, and much less of the fun!
Travel safe, Godspeed, and enjoy!
In the Kitchen
Original Cypress Windows, Open
View, Back Porch
Portrait for Vivian, 2005
Master Bedroom, Long View
Chandelier and Tapestry
Foyer, view to R
In the Foyer
View, Art from Second Bed
View, Art from Master Bed
pano garden 2
1 pano BR
IF you are visiting Miami for the first time, or haven’t been back in a while, it’s well worth taking a little time to think about the areas of town that are most likely to serve you well as a “home base.” If you want to be near the South Beach or Miami Beach, Coral Gables, Coconut Grove, Brickell, North Miami, Key Biscayne, or Downtown areas, but not in any of them, our location is unparalleled.
Here is a truly excellent tool for getting your bearings, courtesy of Google maps. Click on the link just above to locate neighborhoods, addresses, attractions or other places of interest. A visual “lay of the land” can help you decide exactly where might be your own “place in the sun.”
However you might choose to do a little homework, you may be very glad you did. First, Miami is a big place, geographically. Roughly 40 linear miles (or about 64 km.) of highway connect its northern boundary (let’s say Miami Shores) and its southern tip (at Homestead). In an urban area as intense and convoluted as this one-of-a-kind subtropical metropolis, that covers an awful lot of ground, a journey in space and time that can seem almost surreal.
The place is cobbled together, too, of an astonishing number of different neighborhoods of all kinds, large and small, along the way. In many of those areas you’re just as likely to hear two languages as one, and in some of those English will not be among them.
Then, there’s the traffic. It gets worse and worse. Miami was recently ranked 4th in the nation for congestion in the 2007 National Urban Mobility Report (just ahead of Philadelphia, and second behind L.A.), and that is most definitely not good news.
America’s “Age of the Automobile” only in its infancy, and the city already has serious parking problems! It only stands to reason: Miami is one of the few great cities to have been (essentially) given birth contemporaneously with the car.
“Up the Creek,” with a Car.
All of that said, Miami is indeed a wonderful place, bursting with rare opportunities and blessed with beautiful vistas of land, sea, and Florida’s famously big sky. With just a little forethought, you’ll have done your best to make the memories of your stay here sweet ones. You can always sit in bumper-to-bumper traffic, or be cut off, cursed out, or generally driven to your wits end back home, or on another trip!
An Inviting Ocean
And it’s true, we have no pool at the Mission. But that is far from the end of the story, if you love being outside, in the water.
We are just a stone’s throw from Biscayne Bay and from the Atlantic Ocean, as well as a number of perfectly fine (and in some cases absolutely magnificent!) swimming pools. So if you love the idea of refreshing yourself in cool clean water and basking in the Florida sunshine, you should definitely be aware of these options. (I must note that as a boy growing up in Miami, my closest friends and I spent much of our time in the water, yet only a fraction of that in pools. So pools were a special thing for us. We all learned to swim at the local Shenandoah Pool, in fact, one that is only blocks from the Mission and quite wonderful.
Several of our guests have enjoyed that pool, finding it quite nice, generally uncrowded, and only blocks from the Mission (1.1 miles or 3 minutes, according to Google maps). Admission will set you back $1.00!
On a grander (and suitably more expensive) scale is the truly legendary Venetian Pool in Coral Gables, which has provided a thrilling and delightful adventure to children young and old, for generations.
This extraordinary man-made, spring-fed watering hole offers an experience I cannot recommend highly enough, for children of all ages. Take a look at their web site: http://www.coralgablesvenetianpool.com/
Biscayne Morning Paul Hampton Crockett
All that being said, it seems that most of our time growing up was spent in the water, and pool time was a rare novelty. We passed our swimming time mostly in open salt water, most usually our beloved Biscayne Bay.
We will always look back on those days, our home base a deluxe tree-house in the mangrove forest abutting Villa Vizcaya. We paddled around on homemade rafts in open water, and explored winding coves so lush and green we could easily imagine that we’d somehow been transported to the Amazon. We were often joined by the peaceful manatees, who’d swim alongside. Such quiet moments, under big open sky, will remain sweet in our memories (as so wonderfully expressed by my beloved teacher and friend Jane Reno) “for as long as we are able to remember beauty.”
Think about it: aren’t such scenic journeys much more what the “dream of Florida” are all about than any thing or place made by the hand of Man? Take a step beyond the “hotel pool” or its generic equivalents, I dare you! You will be glad that you did. In any event, you’ll take home with you an experience worth really remembering.
The places listed below offer some of the most beautiful vistas in the city, if not the State, and really should not be missed. They often serve to remind me of the much more quiet and beautiful soul underlying this crazed city! Each is easily worth a trip for its own sake. The locations can be “plugged” in to the Google map linked to the Mission:
to get an exact “visual” on location, distance, and route. Alternatively, just type “beaches” in the “Search nearby” field, and take your pick!
Go on: get sand between your toes! You never know; you might catch a glorious sunset, find the most delicious hot dog you’ve ever bought from a seaside hot dog stand (OK, for that one, you gotta be hungry! : ) ), or see real live birds soaring overhead that you might have seen before only frozen flat in picture books.
Personally, “you never know” is exactly the way I like to take my adventures.
BEACHES. These are all excellent and generally very safe places to head out with your beach towels and… whatever:
Hobie Island Beach Park, Key Biscayne 2.8 Mi.
Biscayne Day! Paul Hampton Crockett
Virginia Key Beach, Key Biscayne 4.2 Mi.
Crandon Park Beach, Key Biscayne 7.2 Mi.
Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park, Key Biscayne 7.0 Mi.
Lummus Park, Miami Beach (South Beach) 6.0 Mi.
South Beach Paul Hampton Crockett
Cool clean chlorinated waters await in a number of public pools within convenient proximity of the Mission. To view a larger image of the map above, just click on it. You can then return with the back arrow in the browser, to the upper left of your screen.
A “live” map of public pools near the Mission. View Larger Map
Wherever you decide to do your swimming, do it safe and have a ball!
The Mission, Backyard
IN our never-ending quest to bring you a more powerful and useful “virtual” experience of that fanciful (yet completely real) home and gardens that we call the Mission, we venture boldly forth into the brave new world of Windows’ Panoramio, a web site at which photographs roughly the size of freight cars (stitched together of many smaller shots), can be uploaded for your viewing pleasure.
The “computer thing” is not everybody’s cup of tea, we realize and certainly understand. Therefore, no quiz will be given. Yet we figured it a worthy experiment, to see if people considering the properties might find useful another point of view. So, if you’d like to take a look at a couple of epic-scale photos of the Mission and more of its neighboring “book-end” rental property, Lost Reef Cottage, (which is, after all, part of the sprawling green urban oasis, and an inseparable part of its unique and “green” ambience),
The Yellow Garden Gate marking the entrance to the Coral-Bench Garden area shared by the Cottage, straight ahead and back, and the Mission, to the R. The 1937 Old Spanish classic to the L is the place we are fortunate to call “Home, Sweet Home.”
Then just visit http://www.panoramio.com/photo
BEAUTY is often all around us, yet tends to come quietly and await discovery when there may be time to breathe.
This year’s jade vine, in bloom. Just wanted to share.
For a larger view of image, please visit panoramio, click image, and then rectangular icon just on top (3rd from R).
JOANA & CESAR are blessed: by their love for one another, a bounty of true friends, and the imminent arrival of their first child, a boy to be called Nicolas.
One gloriously sunny and cool April afternoon at the Mission (http://welcometothemission.net/) friends host a gathering to celebrate.
One day, God willing, they will be able to sit down with the boy, growing up all too fast, all eyes and ears, and share with him this picture. “This is how very happy we all were, that you were coming.”
“That weekend a major rainstorm swept into Miami from off the Ocean, but see how sunny it was for your party? It was as if the blue skies arrived to join in the celebration, and even the Sun smiled down from above..
“You could just feel it in the air,” they might say. “Something special was on its way.”
“Of course,” they’ll continue, pausing to tickle him until he begs them to stop, laughing, with tears in hi eyes, as he loves. “There was no way we could have even imagined how especially wonderful a boy was really coming. Yet we all knew that you were going to be something special.”
“Everybody felt it.”
And he will smile, feeling the love embracing and surrounding. He will know that Love had called him forth, preceded his arrival, and awaited with pleasure and full joy the coming of that hour.
For Nicolas May 4, 2012