Monday, 12/5/11 - We picked another "freebie" out our our 2011 Golden Ticket book for Seniors and visited Vizcaya Museum & Gardens, www.vizcayamuseum.org , which is located north of us about 15 miles right on Biscayne Bay in Miami. (Side note: with our Golden Tickets so far we got into Zoo/$30.00 and Vizcaya/$20 for FREE with more to come)
Vizcaya was the winter home of James Deering and built in 1916. James Deering and brother Charles Deering were from the family of International Harvester. We will see "the other" Deering estate while we are here. Vizacaya was originally 180 acres of swamp located on Biscayne Bay right in the heart of old fashionable Coconut Grove/Miami but currently the house and formal gardens remain on 50 acres. James was a life long bachelor and built this beautiful Italy Renaissance house that was eventually donated, by his nieces, to the state of Florida to maintain as a museum open to the public.
The house is a 2 story home with all the bedroom and the kitchen located on the second floor. James had the kitchen built upstairs as he didn't want cooking smells through out the formal rooms located downstairs. What a view the kitchen help had! Downstairs rooms were located around a very large atrium, much like the Builtmore in Ashville, NC. Each room was decorated magnificently and all furnishings came from Italy, Paris and other parts of Europe. They at one time rented a huge warehouse in New York and stored furniture they purchased from Europe THEN designed a room to put it in....just the opposite of most homes.
James had a 3 room suite upstairs with a view of Biscayne Bay and a balcony. He had a bedroom, an office and bathroom. Although James never married he had a beautiful "adjoining" Cathay (Asian) room for "his" female guest. We wandered throughout the rooms while listening to the audio headset (we rented only one??) so I listen & repeat info to Will. Actually, Will said he liked this estate BETTER than the Vanderbilt's Builtmore....but not me. It was amazing to see but so much smaller and way less grand.
However, the formal gardens were something else. True Italian gardens with statues every where and lots of beautiful trimmed bushes, many in a maze formation and so many water features. There was a formal tea house overlooking Biscayne Bay an actual structure shaped like a large yacht that they would use a row boat to go and sit out there. At one time there was a canal completely surrounding the house & gardens where a gondola would travel showing the guest the estate. We actually loved the garden and spent a great deal of time out there walking around and just sitting and listening to the head set tell all about it.
Actually, after viewing the house we headed back to the parking lot to have our picnic lunch (2 chairs and Mimi's TV tray) and "greet guest" as they were heading in. It has become such a tradition for us on this trip. After lunch we headed back to see the orchid garden and the formal gardens. Our total time spent there today was 5 1/2 hours, we needed a nap when we got home but it was fun to be back on the sightseeing circuit. Much love to all our family and friends.