Spotlight email 240522 Stoneman-Douglas

In the Spotlight,

  • Marjory Stoneman Douglas house restoration
  • Little Bahamas Goombay Festival
  • Virrick Park pool will be deeper

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After years of delay, the Coconut Grove cottage where Marjory Stoneman Douglas wrote The Everglades: River of Grass may finally be restored and opened to the public.

by Kelly Keough

The Marjory Stoneman Douglas home on Stewart Avenue.

The Coconut Grove home of one of Miami’s most iconic environmental leaders may finally get the attention it so richly deserves.

A quarter of a century after her passing, Marjory Stoneman Douglas is justly celebrated as a visionary writer and activist who alerted the world to the essential beauty and wonder of the Everglades.

Douglas’ reputation has only grown with time, but the years since her death have not been as kind to the 98-year-old home she left behind.

The small cottage where she lived and worked on Stewart Avenue in the South Grove has languished, shuttered and nearly forgotten, despite its National Historic Landmark status.

Former friends and fans of Douglas say that’s unconscionable, but there are signs of progress – one specific sign, actually, that is giving hope.

State officials recently posted a large sign in front of the cottage announcing the “Marjory Stoneman Douglas Cottage Structural and Public Access Improvements.”

After years of delay, the cottage may finally undergo long-awaited repairs and – fingers crossed – welcome its first official visitors.

Built in 1926 in the style of a miniature thatched English cottage, the rustic 916 square-foot house was purchased by the state of Florida in 1991.

As part of the purchase agreement, Douglas was allowed to live out her last years in the home, with the intention that, after her death, it would become a museum honoring her life and activism. That was the hope, at least, of the Land Trust of Dade County, a nonprofit organization founded by friends of Douglas and which managed the property until 2007.

Since Douglas’ death at the age of 108 in 1998, however, the home has never been opened to the public.

The annual arts and culture festival celebrating Coconut Grove’s Bahamian roots takes to the streets May 31–June 2.

by Aarti Mehta-Kroll

Junkanoo performers make their way down Grand Avenue during Goombay 2023. (Aarti Mehta-Kroll for the Spotlight) 

Goombay is back! Coconut Grove will come alive May 31 to June 2 with the sounds of whistles, drums, and trumpets as Junkanoo performers parade down Grand Avenue, and the aroma of Bahamian delicacies such as conch fritters, cracked conch and conch salad fill the air. All events are free.

Miami Goombay Festival has deep historic and cultural significance in Coconut Grove. Goombay, a time of homecoming for the Bahamian and Black diaspora of Coconut Grove, began in the late 1970s as a collaboration between black and white Coconut Grove residents eager to celebrate the neighborhood’s heritage and to help bridge racial divides.

Coconut Grove was once home to hundreds of families of Bahamian ancestry who lived in the bungalows, shotgun houses, apartment buildings and single-family homes within a vibrant community that extended throughout much of Grand Avenue and west into Coral Gables. Fewer families remain, but their history is strong and their roots are deep.

Though rising land values are changing neighborhood demographics, some families continue to live in homes that have been in their family for generations. Goombay is a time of reunion when friends and relatives who moved elsewhere in South Florida and across the U.S. return to the neighborhood to reminisce and reconnect.

City officials plan to present new design plans to the community on Wednesday, May 29 at the Virrick Park pool construction site.

by Alexandra Howard

Construction underway at Elizabeth Virrick Park’s pool. (Alexandra Howard/Caplin News)

For nearly two years, West Grove residents have been locked in a tug-of-war with the City of Miami over the depth of the new pool at Elizabeth Virrick Park on Plaza Street.

Now, the community’s demand for a deeper pool may finally be answered.

Miami City Commissioner Damian Pardo said the city is prepared to modified the pool’s original design to increase the maximum depth from 5 feet 3 inches to 7 feet 10 inches to satisfy community concerns. The change will make the pool deep enough for competitive aquatic sports including water polo.

Updated design plans will be presented to the community on Wednesday, May 29 at the pool’s construction site.

Armour Dance

“We’re excited because I think we’ve turned the page,” said Pardo, the third District 2 commissioner to deal with the issue. “This is about residents regaining trust in their city and feeling like there’s a partnership on making Miami a better city.” The estimated cost of completing the pool as originally designed was $8.1 million. Deepening the pool, amid ongoing construction, will cost an additional $3.2 million and delay the opening date until November 2025, according to Pardo’s office.

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