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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Protecting our history; starting on Charles Street

The EWF Stirrup House at 3242 Charles Avenue was built in 1897, it is the oldest house in Coconut Grove, other than the Barnacle, across the way, which was built in 1891. And while the Barnacle is revered and protected and used and appreciated, the Stirrup house has been sitting for years, rotting.

For some years now, a few people asked me to get involved but I always felt there was nothing I could do. After so many years, the Stirrup family gave up the house, which was given historic designation in 2004.

Ebenezer Woodbury Franklin Stirrup, a Bahamian immigrant who settled in the Grove, built the two story house, shown here from the back and east side. Mr. Stirrup ended up being one of the largest land owners in the Grove and ironically, the house is now in the hands of the Aries Group, another large Grove landowner. Stirrup lived in the house until his death in 1957, at the age of 84. It remained in the hands of the Stirrup family all these years. Until now.

The Stirrup House on Charles Street, backs up to the Aries Group's other properties: Calamari, La Botegga and The Taurus. They had planned to turn the property into a restaurant or a bed and breakast. At the other end of Charles Street is The Charlotte Jane Memorial Park Cemetery, named for the love of Ebenezer Stirrup's life. It's a very historic street with most if not all of the houses built by Stirrup to house fellow Bahamians who settled here. That is Mr. Stirrup at left.
Charles Street is one of the most historic streets in Coconut Grove. It should all be protected by more than just designating it all historic. This is the front porch of the Stirrup house. Not good today. The houses could be turned into small art galleries, coffee shops or more. Right now, people live in the shotgun style houses and maybe that's even better than businesses taking over. But in any case, the Stirrup house should be restored and protected. I wrote about this in 2009.
The great part about the Stirrup House is that it's right there. It's across from the Playhouse, on the path basically between The Barnacle and Plymouth Congregational Church, another historical gem and it's part of the life, or could be, of the Calamari set of restaurants. There's really no logical reason for it's current condition. Here you can see the wood front decaying and the windows are broken.

We're losing too much of our history around here and this one can easily be saved if the owners just cared a little bit more.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with you: this house deserve a complete restoration and re-insertion in the life of Coconut Grove!
Cristina F.

February 26, 2014 1:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What can we do? If you or someone you know wants to spearhead a campaign, let us know. This is a worthy project. It's better if the building was restored and put to use, including commercial use, than left to rot. EWF Stirrup and his memory deserve better than this. I believe he was the 1st black millionaire in Miami, and he's an example of a successful immigrant and entrepreneur. Maybe the KROMA gallery people are also interested in advocating for its restoration also? Thanks for calling attention to this, Laura A.

February 26, 2014 3:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Grape is [PERFECT] for this, here's how. {IF] trades personnel living in Coconut Grove or The Grove Republic and a necessary number of other citizens list your $ donations herein by name and amount and you trades-people, male & female likewise for your talents @ a discount; a cook for lunch using donations from within the Grove. Shell lumber for discounted supplies. Who's 1st?

February 26, 2014 9:40 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

As a life long Grove resident, I would be willing to spearhead this project.

Lolly Anderson

February 27, 2014 11:02 AM  
Anonymous Susanne said...

As Austrian tourists we were quite moved about the history of this area and especially the life of Mr. Stirrup..... His former home/house must be saved, please!

February 11, 2015 12:55 PM  

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