Historic Sites and Districts

Miami's colorful heritage is embodied by hundreds of significant properties ranging from residential neighborhoods of Mediterranean Revival style villas, Art Deco homes, Craftsman bungalows, and Bahamian cottages, to larger and more elaborate high style buildings such as the Freedom Tower and Olympia Theater as well as several archeological zones. 

Miami's significant properties are snapshots of the past and visible reminders of the community's heritage. They also illustrate the growth and development of Miami, which began as a settlement of Native Americans and resilient pioneers that exploded into a city of distinctive style and cultural diversity. 

Bayside

Area: Generally between Biscayne Bay and Biscayne Boulevard from NE 68th Street to NE 72nd Street.
Years Built: 1900s-present
Architect/Builder: Various
Date Designated: 1991

Description
Developed over a period of more than 40 years, the residential buildings in the Bayside Historic District reflect Miami's growth from a pioneer settlement to a significant metropolitan area. Comprised of four distinct subdivisions, Bayside mirrors the diversity and taste of its early, fashionable residents. Houses in the neighborhood represent an eclectic mix of architectural styles including Mediterranean Revival, Art Deco, and Streamline Moderne.

Beverly Terrace
Area: 3224 and 3300 Biscayne Boulevard
Year Built: 1925
Architects: Hampton and Ehmann
Date Designated: 2003

Description
Built at the height of the Land Boom, these Mediterranean Revival style apartment buildings are impressive reminders of Biscayne Boulevard's heyday. The Davenport and Rich Development Company originally planned four buildings around a central fountain at the intersection of Biscayne Boulevard and NE 33rd Street; one of the Beverly Terrace buildings was demolished, and the fourth building was never constructed.

Buena Vista
Area: Generally between NE 2nd Avenue and N Miami Avenue from NE 42nd Street to NE 48th Street
Years Built: 1920s-present
Architect/Builder: Various
Date Designated: 1988

Description
In the 1890s, Buena Vista was a small village whose founding and growth paralleled Miami's. During the Land Boom of the 1920s, the area was developed as the Biltmore and Shadowlawn subdivisions. Originally home to many “cracker” immigrants from Georgia and North Carolina, the neighborhood soon became popular with the owners of nearby businesses. The houses reflect their original owners' rising social status and include fine examples of Mediterranean Revival, Mission, Craftsman, and Art Deco style residences.

Downtown Miami 
Area: Generally bounded by NE 3rd Street on the north, SE 3rd Avenue on the east. SE 2nd Street on the south and NW Miami Court on the west. 
Years: 1903-1955
Architect/Builder: Various
Date Designated: 2005

Description
The Downtown Miami Historic District encompasses the heart of the traditional downtown Miami commercial sector. The district contains a variety of building styles that include Masonry Vernacular, Commercial style, Mediterranean Revival, Art Moderne, and Neoclassical Revival.

Lummus Park
Area: Generally between Lummus Park and NW 4th Street from NW North River Drive to NW 3rd Court
Years Built: 1910s-present
Architect/Builder: Various
Date Designated: 2005

Description
The buildings in the Lummus Park Historic District comprise one of the last remaining residential neighborhoods in downtown Miami. The city's creation of public green space known as Lummus Park in 1909 spurred development in the area, and most of the buildings were constructed before 1926. In addition to a variety of Mediterranean Revival, Frame and Masonry Vernacular style houses and apartment buildings, the landmark Scottish Rite Temple, designed by the architectural firm of Kiehnel and Elliot, is located in this neighborhood.

Miami Modern (MiMo) / Biscayne Boulevard Historic District
Area: Biscayne Boulevard, from NE 50th Street to NE 77th Street
Period of Significance: 1923 - 1967
Architect/Builder: Various
Date Designated: June 6, 2006

Description
The changing fortunes of Miami are no better illustrated than in the stretch of pavement called Biscayne Boulevard. Its construction began in 1925 (peak year of Miami real estate boom). Over the years, Biscayne Boulevard would evolve and reflect the tumultuous socio-economic trends of both Miami and the nation. After World War II, the physical character of the thoroughfare exhibited its most dramatic change as it became the premier location for a new type of lodging accommodation suited for the 50s car culture: the motel (hotel for motorists).  Today, it is these motels that define the historic character of the district, with their futuristic Miami Modern (MiMo) style.

Morningside
Area: Generally between Biscayne Boulevard and Biscayne Bay from NE 55th Street to NE 60th Street
Built: 1925-present
Architect: Various
Date Designated: 1984

Description
In 1924, James H. Nunnally, president of the Bay Shore Investment Company, envisioned an exclusive residential neighborhood overlooking Biscayne Bay. The result is one of Miami's most intact historic neighborhoods and the city's best surviving example of a Land Boom–era suburb. A wealth of Mediterranean Revival, Art Deco, and vernacular style houses line Morningside's wide, tree-lined boulevards. The district encompasses buildings designed by more than 40 local architects, and is equally significant for the quality of its landscape design, which features many mature tropical trees and plants. The Morningside Historic District was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1992.

Palm Grove
Area:Generally bounded on the north by the Little River; on the south by NE 58 Street; on the east by Biscayne Blvd., and to the west F.E.C. Railway 
Period of Significance: 1921-1959
Architect/Builder: Various
Date Designated: 2009

Description
Miami's largest and most eclectic historic district, Palm Grove is illustrative of the growth and development of Miami from the 1920s through the late 1950s.  The homes, apartment buildings, and multi-family units are representative of middle class dwellings popular in Miami through  each of the key phases in the City's historical development: the boom era  of the 1920s, Depression-era construction of the 1930s, and Post-War Construction of the 1940s and 1950s.  Architectural styles in the district range from modest Miami style bungalows to multi-family Post-War residences.

Riverview
Period of Significance: 1920-1950
Architect/Builder: Various
Date Designated: 2009

Description
The Riverview Historic District reflects the architectural trends of the period between 1920 and 1950 with a concentration of buildings designed in the Mediterranean, Mission, Bangalow, Art Deco, and Mid-Century Modern styles adapted to the Florida’s climate and fitted for the moderate income population that settled in the region.

Archeological remains are often the only clues left to decipher what life was like thousands, hundreds, or even fifty years ago. Archeologists peel back the layers of time to decode the secrets of the past by the material remains, or artifacts, that people left behind. Miami's archeological zones typify the area's rich cultural heritage. From Native American villages and ceremonial centers to pioneer homesteads and early commercial activity centers, each archeological zone reveals secrets of the past and provides views into the lives of Miami's early inhabitants.

Brickell Park and Mausoleum Archeological Zone 

501 Brickell Avenue
Dates of Site: Tequesta Village and Cemetery, 500 B.C. to 500 A.D.; Brickell Mausoleum, 1924
Date Designated: Pending

Brickell Park contains both a pre-Columbian archeological site and a historic mausoleum associated with the Brickell family. As early as the 1860s, pre-Columbian sand mounds were noted here as part of a large hammock extending south from the Miami River. Recently, intact deposits of midden material (or refuse) associated with the pre-Columbian Tequesta occupation were identified within this area. Several Native American burials also were identified that may be related to the inhabitants of the Miami Circle site. In fact, the density of burials suggests that this area was deliberately selected as a cemetery.The Brickell family located its mausoleum at this site. The mausoleum is the only surviving structure associated with one of Miami's most important families. It was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1989.

Miami River Rapids Archeological Zone 

2810-2916 NW South River Drive
Dates of Site: Tequesta Camp,A.D. 1400-1500; Ferguson Mill and Homestead, ca. 1845-1852
Date Designated: 1990

This archeological zone contains the remains of a pre-Columbian Tequesta camp or village and, on top of this, the ruins of the nineteenth-century Ferguson starch mill and homestead. These two settlements were located at the original rapids of the North Fork of the Miami River. Evidence of the Tequesta settlement at this site includes pottery sherds, stone flakes from the production of tools, and animal bones. Later, in the mid-nineteenth century, George Washington Ferguson and Thomas Jefferson Ferguson established their mill and homestead at this location. The mill employed 25 people and was the largest commercial site in Dade County prior to the Civil War. “Ferguson's Florida Arrow Root” was sold throughout the United States until the mill was abandoned due to hostilities resulting from the Third Seminole War.

Miami Circle Archeological Zone

401 Brickell Avenue
Date of Site: 500 B.C. to 900 A.D.
Date Designated: Pending

The Miami Circle, also known as the Brickell Point site, is believed to be the southern part of the pre-Columbian village of Tequesta that used to exist on both the north and south banks of the Miami River. It is thought that the circular formation of holes that have been cut out of the oolitic limestone bedrock represents the footprint of a structure such as a council house, a chief 's house, or a temple. There are also various unique features at this site. There is an intended marking of the cardinal points. A series of holes forms an east-west line with a carving of a human-like eye at the circle's eastern point that might have some association with the equinox and solstice. Other directions were indicated with distinctive cuts or rocks set in the holes. Artifacts recovered, including the remains of a fully articulated shark, a complete sea turtle carapace, and non-local basaltic axes, indicate the site may have had ceremonial importance to the Tequesta. The Miami Circle is the only complete cut-in-rock prehistoric structural footprint discovered in eastern North America. Due to the importance of this discovery, the State purchased the property in 1999. The Miami Circle was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2001.

The City of Miami possesses a wealth of historic fabric including simple homes exhibiting vernacular architectural styles and elaborate, high style buildings full of detail and flourish. 

Art Deco (1929-1940)

The Art Deco style first arrived in America after the Paris Exposition of 1925, where it was promoted as a fusion of the decorative arts and industry and technology. Art Deco was a relaxed precursor of the International style. The style features applied decoration based on organic forms and geometric patterns, executed in the latest construction materials and methods. Forms are angular, and facades often stepped back, especially in taller buildings. Decorative elements range from industrial to Egyptian, Mayan, and American Indian themes. Building forms and decoration generally have a vertical orientation. In South Florida, nautical and tropical motifs, such as palm trees, flamingos, pelicans, the moon, and the ocean, are reflected in bas-relief stucco panels, etched glass, and murals. The related "Moderne" style evolved from Art Deco.

Bahamian or Conch (1890-1920s)

Found mostly in the Overtown area of Miami and in the Charles Avenue area of Coconut Grove, this vernacular architecture was typically the work of shipbuilders-turned-carpenters from the Bahamas and Key West. These "conch" houses feature a one-and-one-half or two-story rectangular mass, with broad gabled or low, hipped roofs. They are usually of balloon frame construction, rather than the original cross-braced system of heavy timbers based on shipbuilding techniques. Buildings are raised off the ground on wood posts or masonry piers, allowing air circulation underneath the house. Exterior surfaces are of horizontal weatherboards and windows are double-hung sash type. The most prominent feature of these buildings is the balustraded front porch, sometimes wrapping around the sides on both stories.

Bungalow (1910-1930s)

Bungalows were one of the most popular residential styles in the nation during the first three decades of the twentieth century. These modest, comfortable houses were built primarily from mail-order house plans. South Florida bungalows are often one or one-and-one-half story wood frame houses with porch railing walls and oolitic limestone chimneys. Bungalows suit the local climate, with broadly pitched gable roofs with wide, overhanging eaves, deep porches, large sash windows, and dormer windows or louvered attic vents. Horizontal weatherboards and wood shingles are the most common exterior surfacing materials. Porch supports are often tapered masonry piers topped by wood posts. The most commonly found bungalow type in the Miami area has a gable roof, its ridge perpendicular to the street, and an off-center gabled front porch.

Frame Vernacular (1840's-present)

Frame Vernacular refers to a simple wood frame building, which is the product of the builder's experience, available resources, and response to the environment. These buildings are typically rectangular, of balloon frame construction, and rest on piers. They are one or two stories in height, with one-story front porches, and gabled or hipped roofs with overhanging eaves. Horizontal weatherboard and drop siding are the most common exterior wall materials. Some early buildings feature vertical board and batten siding or wood shingles, while asbestos shingles are common to post-1930s construction or as resurfacing for older buildings. Wood double-hung sash windows are typical, although many have been replaced by aluminum awning windows and jalousies. Ornamentation is sparse, and includes shingles, cornerboards, porch columns, brackets, rafter tails, vents in the gable ends, and oolitic limestone detailing.

Masonry Vernacular (1840s-present)

Three main types of masonry construction date to the early days of Miami-Dade County: hollow clay tile, concrete block, and oolitic limestone. Hollow clay tile, lighter than concrete block, was used up to the 1920s in large construction projects. Concrete blocks were easily manufactured from local materials. Rusticated concrete blocks, molded to resemble rough-cut stone, were popular prior to 1920 and are still seen in Little Havana. Oolitic limestone is the most typical masonry building material in South Florida and is unique. Quarried in south Miami-Dade County since the mid-nineteenth century, it consists of small rock particles and is used in rubble form. Coral-like keystone from the Florida Keys was popular during the 1930s and 1940s. Masonry Vernacular style commercial buildings, generally two stories in height, feature simple rectilinear plans, parapets and arcades.

Mediterranean Revival (1917-1930s)

The Mediterranean Revival style defined Miami during the Boom of the 1920s. The style reflects the architectural influences of the Mediterranean coast: Italian, Byzantine, Moorish themes from southern Spain, and French. Applied Spanish baroque decoration is generously used around openings, balconies, and cornices. Parapets, twisted columns, pediments, and other classical details also are frequently used. Arches are often featured. The most common materials are stucco walls, red tile roofs, wrought iron grilles and railings, wood brackets and balconies, and oolitic limestone, ceramic tile and terra cotta for ornament. Patios, courtyards, balconies, and loggias replace the front porch. Fenestration is usually the casement type. With its elaborate detailing, Mediterranean Revival architecture works best in large buildings.

Miami Modern (1945-1965)

The prosperity of post-World War II America is reflected in the inventive designs of the Miami Modern style. The Miami Modern style evolved from Art Deco and Streamline Moderne designs, reflecting greater modern functional simplicity. Although the style was used on various types of buildings, it is typified by futuristic-looking hotel and motels. Characteristics include the use of geometric patterns, kidney and oval shapes, curves, stylized sculpture, cast concrete decorative panels and stonework depicting marine and nautical themes, particularly at the entrances. Overhanging roof plates and projecting floor slabs with paired or clustered supporting pipe columns, as well as open-air verandas and symmetrical staircases are also typical design features.

Mission (1910-1930s)

The simple Mission-style buildings were inspired by the early Spanish mission churches in California. Exterior walls are usually covered with stucco, although oolitic limestone is also used. The most distinctive features of the style are tiled roofs and arches. Roofs are commonly low in pitch or flat, featuring curvilinear parapets or pent roof sections. The same parapet lines are often repeated over the front porch. Parapets may be topped with simple stucco molding, or with a single row of sloping Mission tiles. Cylindrical tiles, or scuppers, drain rainwater. Windows may be sash or casement type. Arches are typical on the facade and common on other openings. The front porch sometimes extends over the carport or garage entrance to one side of the main building mass. Applied decoration is kept to a minimum.

Neo-Classical (1893-c. 1940)

The Neo-Classical style is an eclectic revival of Georgian, Adam, early Classical Revival, and Greek Revival architectural styles. Interest in classical models was inspired by the World's Columbian Exposition, which was held in Chicago in 1893. The style is based mostly on the Greek, rather than Roman, architectural orders. Because of this, windows and doorways are commonly spanned by lintels rather than by arches. Another hallmark of the Neo-Classical style is a full-height entry porch on the principal facade supported by classical columns in the Ionic or Corinthian orders. The arrangement of windows is commonly symmetrical about a central door. Other features of the style may include monumental proportions, large (sometimes triple-hung) sash windows, pilasters, attic stories or parapets, and simple rooflines.

Streamline and Depression Moderne (1930-1942)

Streamline Moderne, which depicted the laws of aerodynamics in architecture, reflected the growth of speed and travel in the 1930s. Building forms evoke automobiles, trains, ocean liners, and airplanes. Massing reflects abstract, simplified forms with rounded corners devoid of much applied decoration. Horizontal compositions, bands of windows, racing stripes, and flat roofs are featured, as well as new materials such as vitrolite, glass block, chrome, stainless steel, terrazzo, and neon. Features of these buildings typical to the Miami area are "eyebrow" ledges over the windows, front porches, nautical motifs like porthole windows, and bas-relief panels depicting tropical scenes. Streamline Moderne buildings commissioned by the Public Works Administration (Depression Moderne) reflect a greater use of conservative and classical elements.