CORAL GABLES CHARRETTE: HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE
This view is looking north, just south of Alhambra.
Now you are looking south, from a little bit north of Alhambra.
If you stood in front of the Elementary School thirty-five years ago, you would have seen this vista including the now-demolished Gables Theater on the right. You can see quite a concentration of buildings in the same style. Many of us can remember how the street looked because most of the buildings survived into the 1970s.
This is another view, again looking north from about where the Colonnade is today.
George, however, was not content to just do a downtown. He had visions for these other wonderful spaces-sort of satellite shopping areas.
This is the Craft Village that was planned around the Ponce Circle. Only a few buildings were ever built. The old Charade Restaurant was the Granada Shop-where the Wilkins family created faux Spanish furniture. The Fine Arts Building is still there. An architectural firm now occupies it. It was where Denman Fink and Phineas Paist oversaw and approved the design, color and scale of all the buildings constructed in Coral Gables. The Boake Building was torn down, but the Bank of Coral Gables replicated it. Like many of George Merrick's great plans, he never had a chance to finish the Craft Section. It was to be a marvelous place where craftsmen worked and lived. Shoppers could watch craftsmen making rugs, pottery and furniture. At the end of the day, the craftsmen would go up stair to their dwellings.
It is very important for you to remember, although it's hard to imagine today when you cannot buy anything cheap in Coral Gables, that George Merrick planned Coral Gables for all kinds of people with all kinds of incomes. He did not want just rich people. In fact, he envisioned Coral Gables as a spot of beauty for the middle class. He never would have allowed gated communities except for some of his villages that traditionally had walls. Even on streets like Granada and Alhambra that have big estate-style houses, the side streets have more modest dwellings. He believed in a kind of democratic planning. I know many people still believe this is the right kind of planning for today.
The Exhibition Building was one of the buildings that was not built in the Craft Section. It was going to house a per- manent trade fair to sell merchandise from all over the world.
This is the never-completed Coral Gables Market. Its foundation was there for years. Today it is the Court building; formerly, the Food Fair.