Seven Historic Moments at the Coconut Grove Convention Center
It's hard for Miami to retain its history when historic buildings keep getting torn down. "Historic," to some developers, must be code for "old, ugly, and replacable."
Most recently known for housing the filming headquarters of USA Network's Burn Notice, the Convention Center has held its fair share of memorable events -- including a wild Doors concert in the late '60s. At least we got some good use out of it, Miami.
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Tom Falco, editor and publisher of the Coconut Grove Grapevine blog, filled us in on the finer points of the CGCC's history. Though Falco admits that most historical landmarks in Miami "seem to be gone at this point," he says he hopes the Grove can retain its unique "flavor" and preserve its "special waterfront."
The best way to preserve anything - aside from photographs - is memory. So stroll with us as we remember the Coconut Grove Convention Center.
7. The Doors' 1969 concert
What do you think when you hear the words "Dinner Key Auditorium"? If you were around for the Doors concert in 1969, you might think of Jim Morrison, who allegedly exposed himself during the show. Calling the event "the biggest memory" of the CGCC, Falco recalls seeing a PBS documentary about The Doors, When You're Strange (2010): "It was amazing to see the film footage from right inside the Expo Center... you could actually see Jim Morrison in the place, and the background, walls, and everything looks exactly the same today."
6. Miami International Orchid Show
Florida is home to some pretty exotic plant life, including gorgeous orchids. The CGCC has hosted various Orchid Shows throughout the years, where orchid experts gathered to show off - and sell - their plants, and talk flower shop with fellow experts and common folk.
5. Cuba Nostalgia Expo
The Convention Center "had 100,000 sq. feet or more when fully used, so there was plenty that could be done there," says Falco. Since memories and nostalgia go hand-in-hand, it is only fitting to mention the Cuba Nostalgia Expo, which first took place at the CGCC in 1999 and continued every year until 2004. Honoring a pre-Castro Cuba, the expo allows visitors to reminisce on happier times with music, food, and memorabilia celebrating their island roots. In 2005, the Cuba Nostalgia Expo moved to its new home at the Fair Expo Center, where it has taken place every year since.
4. Miami Sailing Week
Bacardi's Miami Sailing Week, which took place at the CGCC in 2011, 2012, and 2013, featured hundreds of sailors coming together for a weeklong regatta. Though the actual races took place in the water by the marina, photographs of previous races, as well as cocktail hour were held within the walls of the Convention Center.
3. Art Live Fair
The best part about having a giant expo center is being able to put together any sort of event imaginable. "I remember science shows, boat shows, sort of anything you could think of," says Falco. One thing Miami loves to think about is art. In 2012, Art Live Fair took place at the CGCC bringing in dozens of artists - artists in every sense of the word - to create art live and in person. Visitors had the opportunity to experience the full creation of art in various mediums.
2. Antique & Jewelry Show
One of Falco's fondest memories of the CGCC is its antique and jewelry shows. "I remember for years that once a month there was the Dinner Key Antique Show," recalls Falco, "which raised money for Coconut Grove Cares, which is still around today." He explains how "sellers would set up their antiques and collectibles in the expo center and [the show] drew thousands of people."
1. The filming of Burn Notice
The CGCC will always be remembered as the home of Burn Notice, which has been filmed on location here in Miami since season one back in 2006. "The production company [of Burn Notice] has made excellent use of the space and turned it into a first class TV production studio," says Falco. Despite tensions between the show's producers and the City of Miami, the series has been able to film here, to the joy of local fans. It was announced officially earlier this year that the show's seventh season will be its last, and soon after, the Coconut Grove Convention Center will be gone for good.
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