Welcome to the Grapevine

News you can use. - Sunlight is the best disinfectant

Monday, January 14, 2019

Replacing history with replicas

The new Stirrup House

The new bed and breakfast at the former Stirrup House site on Charles Street is getting ready to open. I say former because the original Stirrup House was replaced with a duplicate. An excellent duplicate, but none the less, a duplicate. 

The EWF Stirrup House at 3242 Charles Avenue was built in 1897, it is/was 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 sat and rotted for many years in the hands of the Stirrup family. 

Ebenezer Woodbury Franklin Stirrup, a Bahamian immigrant who settled in the Grove, built the two story house. Mr. Stirrup ended up being one of the largest land owners in the Grove, he lived in the house until his death in 1957, at the age of 84.

The shape of the original house a couple of years ago

It's sad that the original house was neglected so much that it had to be destroyed and rebuilt. Should the house be taken as being historic or just the ground it stands on? It was left to rot. Of course, right across the street is the Coconut Grove Playhouse, which is in the same situation. For over 12 years, it has been left to rot and what is its fate?

Charles Street is the most historic street in the Grove and yet it has the most problems.

Future site of new hotel?

Behind the playhouse there is a big empty lot. There are plans to put a hotel there. The one issue with neighbors is the zoning, will Charles Avenue now go from residential to commercial zoning? Will the hotel affect the neighborhood and will quiet Charles Avenue have to deal with excessive traffic?

It's interesting that no one has mentioned the proposed hotel yet. It's also interesting that neighbors never have a say in their own neighborhoods. It's all about developers and development in Miami and sadly, Coconut Grove, too.

Historic Charles Avenue, will this sign be the only thing remaining?

The new Stirrup House Bed & Breakfast.

For linking to this one story, just click on the time it was posted & just this story will open for sharing - only through social media. Not copying and pasting.


Blogger madreperla said...

What a sad story. Coconut Grove is indeed facing its worst times, losing its canopy, historical buildings, and character. All the while when gaining traffic, bad architecture and interests that are far away from the inhabitants. I am appalled.

January 14, 2019 8:12 AM  
Blogger Mike March said...

The zoning code is potentially being changed in order to allow hotels to be built next to historically designated sites, but only in the historically black West Grove. Why? This could be done via the new proposed amendments to the West Grove's neighborhood conservation district (NCD-2). These measures were sponsored by our District 2 City Commissioner Ken Russell, who would like to paint himself as a hero against gentrification and as a savior to the West Grove's black community, in the advancenent of his political career to Congress and beyond.

What makes matters worse is that this measure only applies to the West Grove, since it is under an additional NCD (NCD-2) compared to the rest of Coconut Grove, which is under the NCD-3. This represents a double standard, because the white residents of the South Grove would never stand for hotels next to their historic sites, such as the Marjory Stoneman Douglas House. How about a "River of Grass" B&B? It sounds like a lovely place to catch a spot of tea, huh?

Mike March

January 14, 2019 11:40 AM  
Blogger Mike March said...

Proposed amendments to the NCD-2 will also place all of the West Grove under the control of an advisory board such as the City's HEP board (Historical and Environmental Protection) for approval of all new construction.   This is a mafia-like board which operates in a very arbitrary and political manner, with no regard towards to the financial burdens it places on tax paying homeowners.  Homeowners in the West Grove, many of them Bahamian and African-American, are being treated like pawns in this large-scale but clandestine plan.  Forced historical designation has become the new eminent domain of the 21st century, yet it sounds much nicer at the ballot box, especially if you are not an owner of the property, or a property in the affected district.

Residents from more affluent parts of the Grove who are pushing for these NCD-2 amendments to be passed pretend to care about black history, even though they would never subject their own neighborhoods to HEP board control.  

The reason those from outside the West Grove want to increase our regulation here is because they want the West Grove to remain a low-rent district, where only "plantation" style architecture will be permitted, so as not to compete with the property values in other parts of the Grove, where modern architecture still may be "tolerated"  (with your busybody neighbors' approval of course).

Mike March          

January 14, 2019 11:42 AM  
Blogger Mike March said...

As usual, homeowners and residents of the Grove are being left out of the loop on these proposed changes.   The NCD amendments are due for their first reading before the City Commission Jan. 24th, yet an updated version is not even available to the public online.   Without the City  preparing a master plan, residents will not be made aware of all the density which is being added along the Grand Avenue business corridor, and the upzoning which will spread like wildfire throughout the West Grove, under the guise of "protection".   It is nothing but a density bait and switch, no doubt sponsored by the development interests which will get the upzoning they want.

Some officials in the Grove say they don't want a master plan prepared, because too many studies have been done in the past and not enough actions were completed.   They might be right, but this time the changes really are coming, and guess what?  The city doesn't want the public to know about it.   The city has no problem finding the addresses of property owners when it is time to collect property taxes, yet when it comes to important changes to our zoning code, no mailings are required supposedly.   That's convenient.
As a longtime resident of Charles Avenue, I am not particularly perturbed by this proposed hotel being built, or even the proposed changes of Charles and Franklin Avenues into one way arteries for the traffic to the Playhouse (and Ransom Everglades).

What I am perturbed about is the arbitrary zoning codes being written which allows this to happen on a historically black street but not on a historically white street.   The two separate NCDs for Coconut Grove are already reinforcing the old Jim Crow segregation zoning, which once separated the West Grove from the "Rest" (of the) Grove.   These proposed NCD-2 amendments will only deepen the divide.   While this divide may be politically useful to some politicians seeking acclaim, tax paying homeowners of the West Grove should not be made into pawns.

I am grateful that Coconut Grove is now part of the City of Miami, so that the commissioners from other parts of the City with more common sense (and respect for property rights) might come to our protection.   Any time skin color becomes part of a political debate, reason seems to fly out the window and some politicians will try to grandstand and stand on a soap box.   I am glad they are not all that way.  

Please consider signing the petition below against the proposed NCD amendments, which some are trying to cram down our throats without public education and participation.   Ken Russell has said we can always pass the amendments now and amend them later.   I would prefer not to trust him with this.   Let's demand a master plan from the City of Miami.   I don't think all of the potential changes are bad.   Some are going to be exciting and positive.   Let's share them with the public so that us residents can share in the anticipation, not just the developers in their back room meetings.  


Mike March

January 14, 2019 11:44 AM  
Blogger Rafael T said...

Thank You so much for your insightful comments, Mike March. Groups like Grove 2030 not only are doing more harm than good, but are a Trojan Horse for a Power Grab. Speak now, or forever lose your freedom.

January 14, 2019 12:34 PM  
Blogger Mike March said...

There is also supposed to be a Publix coming to Grand Ave. This sounds wonderful, but why is it being kept a secret from the public?

Who will get to live in back of it?
Will they get upzoned as well?
Where is the Master Plan for Coconut Grove?
Can we get a Master Plan before the Commission passes all these changes?

Thank you for posting this story.

Mike March

January 14, 2019 1:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's sad the original was neglected, however the owners of the new Stirrup house should still be applauded. At least they made an effort to preserve the look and feel of the original. My understanding is it was considerably more expensive than the other options. I think the deserve some praise.

January 14, 2019 1:26 PM  
Anonymous ReadRuggles said...

I used to try and beat mr Stirrup to be first in line to voteinthe Park.His daughter was the assistant principal at Gables high when it was new mr Stirrups granddaughter was at many parties at my house.He parked in the driveway and never came in .Agreat guy.
Read Ruggles

January 14, 2019 5:46 PM  
Blogger MariTFL said...

Great story. Informative. Was not aware of some of the comments. Have watched this renovation and wondered what else was coming. Some of the decisions fueled by politics are troubling.

January 15, 2019 7:15 AM  
Blogger Jose Fernandez-Calvo said...

Thanks for the story. As a resident of the West Grove I am wary of this legislation. I don't want my neighborhood to be "special" with special laws like NCD2/3 ... I prefer equality, with the rule of law applying to every resident of the Grove equally. I'm very concerned about a small (unelected?) committee having decision power on construction in a given area, it is a recipe for corruption!

January 15, 2019 10:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting Jose points to equality. Wondering if prior to gentrification equality wad an issue. Freedom is usually tauted as the primary motive because whoever has the money can just buy their way through. Freedom without equality is meaningless because then there is no justice. In regards to Ken Russell though one has to realize once politicians feel established then we start seeing interests of their opposition quietly legislated. It is normal. That is why new faces like Mike March should get involved in the debate and run for office.

January 15, 2019 1:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Stirrup house, has undergone an amazing & positive transformation, in essence a reproduction much as "historic Williamsburg" is in Virginia. Probably most agree, better that than removed in pieces of rotted debris to be replaced by a Taco Bell. Seems pretty logical to have a bed and breakfast close to the Playhouse. It is located to the west but very close to the Playhouse on Charles Ave.
Zoning rules are conditions/limitations involved in the ownership of real estate, "real" property. Social engineering is an entirely different matter & has historically been a complicated undertaking. Many recall communism as a totally failed regime of the Soviet Union. The power of municipalities to be involved in & monitor zoning rules is a duty conferred by the owners of property. There are different types of "zones" within zoning concepts. In this country we believe in private ownership of property and the principle that private ownership is good, especially in owner occupied, homesteaded property areas, areas owned and occupied by those owners. That way the community has significant interest in, and hopefully participates in what goes on regarding zoning of the area.

January 15, 2019 2:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Coconut Grove Playhouse and what happens to it will symbolize who we are.

January 15, 2019 3:24 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home