Best Renovation (1999)

The Deering Estate at Cutler

In 1992 Hurricane Andrew churned with all its fury over the old estate of industrialist Charles Deering that had been a public park since 1985. The stone mansion Deering built in 1922 stood up remarkably well, suffering mainly bashed doors and windows, waist-deep water on the first floor, and the loss of a few outside columns. But the wooden Richmond Cottage, first erected in 1896, was reduced to kindling, not even its stone chimney surviving intact. The rest of the 420-acre park fared little better; mammoth royal palm trees were destroyed and mangroves trashed. Fast-forward seven years and $11 million later. An army of builders, painters, carvers, and restorers have done the impossible: returned both houses to (nearly) their original state and adhered to Miami-Dade County's rigorous building code. Restorers have concentrated on authenticity right down to the cottage's mismatched wood siding. In the stone house, handmade glass and Cuban lap tiles were installed. Copper and bronze doors turned black by saltwater were returned to a luminescent sheen. On the outside close to two million dollars were spent to eradicate exotic plants and restore native species. The site is open to the public again. Old man Deering would be proud.


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