Coral Gables founder George Merrick envisioned a southern paradise with a bustling downtown surrounded by citrus plantations when planned out the City Beautiful. And good ol'Merrick was well on his way to his dream city before the Great Depression and the 1926 hurricane wreaked havoc on his plans. He was pretty much broke when he died in 1942. Still, thanks in large part to Merrick--who the city dedicated a large sculpture to in front of City Hall--the Gables has one of the richest architectural, cultural, and economic traditions in South Florida. And soon, the rest of us will be able to gawk at some of that rich history as the Coral Gables Museum is scheduled to open this fall.
Merrick's story and that of the origins of the city will be part of the
initial exhibition at the museum. Housed in a 1939 Coral Rock building once home to the city's fire and fuzz, the museum will
display artifacts from the city's history as well as serve as a venue
for art and history exhibitions. New digs will also be part of the
museum as it features the 3,000 square foot Robert and Marian Fewell
Wing, which will be used for larger exhibitions. In front of the new wing,
there will be a 5,000 square foot public plaza.
According to Executive Director Steven Klindt, the museum is on schedule
for the 10/10/10 opening although he clarified that the new wing won't
get traveling exhibitions until next year. Also on view for the October debut will be artifacts donated by the city's
police and fire department, including a vintage fire engine and a
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trolley donated by HistoryMiami. There'll also be an exhibition
surveying the Gables's history with the federal Works Progress
Administration (WPA). "The Gables was the center for arts for federal
arts project," Klindt says.