CORAL GABLES CHARRETTE: HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE
And the final, final building that George Merrick had anything to do with is our beautiful City Hall. Phineas Paist and Walter De Garmo designed it.
What I have shown you tonight is George Merrick's Coral Gables. As you know, he ended up being forced off the Commission in 1928 because a dissident group of citizens blamed him and the Coral Gables Corporation for their crash related problems. They forced a referendum and the citizens threw everybody off the commission except George. He had the highest number of votes. He could have been mayor, but he refused. Then the new commission figured out a way to get rid of him anyway. They said he missed too many meetings. It was Depression times and people who were loosing money looked for a scapegoat. There he was-the face and soul of Coral Gables. Despite the humiliation and defeat, he never became bitter-only sad.
George and his wife went down to the Keys and built a rustic, high-end fishing camp. The 1935 hurricane blew it away. He then came back to Coral Gables, opened a real estate office in his old Administration Building and was limping along with the rest of the depression weary folk. In 1940, because he wanted to pay off his debts and needed a regular income to do so, he took the postmaster exam and made the highest score. He became Postmaster of Miami. He ended up in that wonderful Federal Building across from the Wolfson Campus of Miami-Dade Community College. Ironically, while he was postmaster he participated in the dedication of the magnificent Denman Fink mural in the Central Courtroom. Fink's portrait of George as a young boy working on the Coral Gables Plantation can be seen today in this masterpiece.
This is a 1940s view of Coral Gables As you can see, nothing changed much from the time George Merrick left in 1928. When George was forced out, he had a ten-year plan in place. He wanted to acquire 15,000 more acres to bring Coral Gables' total to 25,000 acres. He expected to spend $100 million more to finish his dream city. This one will surprise you-he projected that Coral Gables would have 250,000 residents.
George Merrick died in March 1942 when he was only 56 years old. In 1940, when Coral Gables was 15, and George was still alive, a newspaper story opined that it was not just beauty that made Coral Gables unique but it was the single concept and the unity of design, plus the tremendous vision of George Merrick. It noted that it was inspir- ing that City officials and individuals had stuck to his ideas even after he was gone. Of course, he was still around to speak up. . This is a 1944 postcard. At the end of World War II, when people were beginning to build again, Coral Gables