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Monday, March 14, 2016

Celebrating the Commodore's 165th birthday

Commodore Munroe
Commodore Ralph Munroe  is 165 this year and The Barnacle is celebrating. It's time for the annual Commodore's Birthday Party on Sunday, April 3.

Join in and commemorate the life of one of Coconut Grove’s most influential pioneers with a celebration from 6:30 to 9 pm. Join friends and neighbors as they honor Commodore Ralph Middleton Munroe’s birthday with live music by hometown favorite cover band Blackstar with Bruce Turkel on the scenic bay-front grounds of The Barnacle, Munroe’s historic home at 3485 Main Highway. The Commodore was a yacht builder. His home, The Barnacle, is the oldest house in Miami-Dade County still standing in it's original location. The backyard and house, look the same as it did when the Commodore and his family lived there.

Commodore Munroe visited our area often between 1882 and 1886 and he stayed at the Peacock Inn, which was located where Peacock Park is now, he eventually built his house right next door. Back then, it was all open, you could walk along the shore from the house to the hotel and back. In 1886 he moved to the Grove permnantely. The orignial site was 40 acres, he paid $400 for it along with one of his yachts.

He build the boat house, his workshop, in 1887 at the water's edge and it is still there today, just as it was back then. That's the big yellow structure on the water.

Munroe was an amateaur photographer, back then they used big large glass plates as negatives. Years later, in the late 1970s, our friend Arva Moore Parks, local historian, was helping the family clean out the house and they came upon the big glass plates in the attic, they didn't know what they were at first and then realized they were images of Coconut Grove and the area in the late 1800s, all taken by Commodore Munroe. To make a long story short, Arva was instrumental in helping save the property and the general area from condo invasion along with her long-time friends Adele and Bob Graham, a few years before he was our Governor and Senator.

"I introduced Bob Graham to the Barnacle when he was a state legislator." says Arva.  "Even though he was a native Miamian, he did not know about it.  Harvey Ruvin had just saved Arch Creek and I said to Bob 'If Harvey Ruvin can save Arch Creek, why can’t you save the Barnacle?' He then said, 'What is the Barnacle?'  Within days, I took him to see it (Mary Munroe, widow of Ralph’s son Wirth and mother of Charlie and Bill still lived there.  Within a month or two he got the State of Florida to buy it.  That is when I learned a good politicians is worth a whole bunch of us do gooders.  I next helped Mary pack up to move.  That is when I discovered Ralph’s glass plate negatives in the Barnacle attic.  That prompted my first book," said Arva.
The photos from the glass plates are all part of Arva's 1977 book, "The Forgotten Frontier: Florida through the Lens of Ralph Middleton Munroe," which shows the untamed wilderness from over 100 years ago.

Enjoy a buffet supper by David and Doug’s Catering and bid on an African Safari, an excursion aboard the Commodore’s replica 1886 sailboat Egret, and much more during the a silent auction.

Period costumes 1851-1933 are welcome.

Tickets purchased by March 31 are $40 for members of The Barnacle Society and $50
for future members. At the gate, tickets are $60. Admission for children ages 10 and under is
$10. For an additional $25, guests can enjoy a twilight tour of historic house with complimentary champagne on the front porch and an auction preview from 5:30 to 7 pm.

To RSVP please visit TheBarnacle.org or call 305-442-6866.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lovely story, that of Arva Moore...

March 14, 2016 7:39 PM  

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