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When Chicago industrialist James Deering had his palatial retreat built on Biscayne Bay, the Magic City was still a sleepy hamlet with less than 10,000 residents. The cosmopolitan bachelor, who crashed at his swank tropical crib only during the winter months between 1916 and 1925, had traveled to Italy with artist Paul Chaflin to visit highfalutin homesteads that would inspire his gilded getaway. Upon returning, the wealthy magnate hired architect F. Burrall Hoffman Jr. and garden designer Diego Suarez to transform the 180-acre site into a grand estate, complete with lagoons, canals, citrus groves, a farm village, a yacht harbor, and a 40-room baroque mansion.

Vizcaya: An American Villa and Its Makers, co-authored by Witold Rybczynski and Laurie Olin, documents the tale of how the stunning house and landscape were created. Tonight at 8:00 at Books & Books (265 Aragon Ave., Coral Gables), Rybczynski will show photographs from the book and discuss the history of the national treasure’s architecture, landscape and garden design, interior decoration, and artwork. Admission is free. Call 305-442-4408, or visit
Fri., Dec. 15


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