Wanderlust (southernoracle) wrote in abandonedplaces,

Weekend exploration

I was out letterboxing last weekend, and came across this:

Apparently, it's a fairly well-known place, the Glenn H. Curtiss mansion.

The Glenn Curtiss House is a historical landmark that was constructed in 1925 by aviation pioneer Glenn Hammond Curtiss, developer of Miami Springs, Florida, where the mansion is located. Curtiss lived in this large, two-story residence designed in the Pueblo Revival style until his death in 1930. Facing the eastern perimeter of the golf course, it features a central patio and was the largest of Pueblo theme houses built by Curtiss-Bright company in their development of Country Club Estates.

The beautifully landscaped estate covered over 30 acres with a small lake on the east side of the property. Mr. Curtiss brought to the lake many species of water birds including flamingos and swans. Including the adjacent property, it formed a 21-acre complex. After Glenn Curtiss's death in the early 1930s, Lena Curtiss married an old friend and business associate of her husband, H. Sayre Wheeler. Wheeler served as mayor of Miami Springs from 1942 to 1944 and was also part owner of the Michaels and Wheeler Insurance Company. The couple lived in the house until the late 1940s.

The estate was sold in the mid-50's and became the world renowned Miami Springs Villas. It was sold to Forte Hotels, International, Inc. in the late 1970's and is currently owned by Manor Care, Inc. Designated as a Miami Springs historic site in 1987. The mansion is determined eligible to be placed on the NRHP.

Its architect, Martin Luther Hampton, was one of Miami's most prominent architects during the 1920s--his designs include the former Miami Beach City Hall and the Congress Building in downtown Miami.

The house is roughly V-shaped in plan and constructed of hollow clay tile with a rough textured stucco exterior.

The roof is flat with very irregular parapet walls embellished by projecting waterspouts and irregular shaped openings.

The main entrance to the residence is set within a deeply recessed T-shaped opening and marked by a flat-roofed porte cochere.

From the '70s until late 2002, it was a place of vandalism and a number of fires that have destroyed the house. The most devastating and last of those was in 2002, before it was closed to the public.

At the south end of the lake is an arbor and barbecue grill. The grill was constructed of oolitic limestone, which was a by-product of digging the lake.

The mansion's eerie look and shady history drew many locals to it. It is thought by many locals to be haunted. Many organizations like the SFGT visit and explore it often.

The Glenn Curtiss House is currently not open to the public while it is being restored to serve as a museum honoring the life of Glenn Curtiss. The museum plans to open in 2005 or 2006.

Some interesting facts about Glenn Curtiss:
-1907 Set world land speed record of 77.6 mph on a motorcycle. Later that same year, he bested his own record
with 136.36 mph in his V8 motorcycle in Ormond Beach, Florida.
-1908 First Army dirigible flight with Curtiss as the flight engineer.
-1909 Produced and sold first private aircraft in US. Established the first flying school.
-1910 Set the long distance flying record of 150 miles from Albany, New York to New York City.
-1910 First firearm use from aircraft, piloted by Curtiss, First radio communication with aircraft in flight in a Curtiss biplane, First successful takeoff from a United States Navy ship. (Although the first successful *landing* on a ship didn't occur until a year later!)
-1911 Issued the very first pilot's license, pilot license #1, for his "June Bug" flight.
-1921 Developed Hialeah, Florida including Hialeah Racetrack, followed by Miami Springs in 1923, and Opa-locka in 1926.

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