by Jane Bianchi | September 11, 2017

Floridiana: House of Glass

Miami's gleaming great estate

The estate’s design was inspired by European villas and features Floridian flourishes. Photography courtesy of Vizcaya Museum and Gardens Archive

Built between 1914 and 1922 in Coconut Grove, this 38,000-square-foot, 50-acre estate—dubbed Vizcaya—was once the winter home of agricultural industrialist James Deering and is now a popular museum and National Historic Landmark.

“In the 1930s, my father and his friends used to sneak onto the Vizcaya boathouse on Biscayne Bay because that’s where the best fishing was,” says Shanon Materio, co-founder of McMow Art Glass Inc. in Lake Worth. Coincidentally, McMow repaired and restored all the blown-glass windows on the house’s main floor—a project that began in the late 1980s and continued through 2014.

The estate’s design was inspired by European villas and features Floridian flourishes. The building incorporates a mix of antique Italian marble and native coral rock, and local shells were used to decorate grottoes and bridges within the 10-acre formal gardens. The main house has 54 rooms, 34 of which are open to the public, and showcases more than 2,500 art objects and furnishings. The grounds are home to an orchid collection of 2,000 specimens and 25 acres of endangered primary growth forests.

Take a tour with some of the 200,000-plus people who visit each year, and don’t miss the museum’s 31st annual Halloween Sundowner. Costumes are a must.

Major international leaders who have visited Vizcaya include: Presidents Reagan and Clinton, Queen Elizabeth II, King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia of Spain, and Pope John Paul II.