Photo by Bullet, 2011

Miami Marine Stadium

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Photo(Courtesy of Hilario Candela): Pancoast, Ferendino, Skeels, and Burnham’s plans for the Miami Marine Stadium.

Designed by architect Hilario Candela, a 28-year-old recent immigrant from Cuba, the stadium was built on Virginia Key as the United States’ first stadium purposely-built for powerboat racing on land donated to the City of Miami by the Matheson Family. Dedicated as the Ralph Munroe Marine Stadium, it was completed at a cost of around $2 million and opened in 1963.

Utilizing a floating stage in front of the grandstand, the stadium hosted many world class powerboat events including Unlimited Hydroplane, Inboard, Outboard, Performance Craft, Stock, Modified, and Grand National divisions as well as other special event races. The stadium would become the site of a number of nationally televised events including the Bill Muncey Invitational and the ESPN All American Challenge Series and in later years, would become host to different events ranging from boxing matches to classical concerts to Sunday services.

The stadium was also the site of the famous hug given to President Richard Nixon by Sammy Davis Jr. during a rally for his Presidential re-election.

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Photo(Courtesy of Hilario Candela): Hilario Candela alongside the Marine Stadium during it’s construction in 1963.

Going into the 1980s, the stadium saw a decline in events due to a number of issues including new restrictions, political pressure from the City of Miami, and a lack for promoting such events. Along with the issues mentioned, the stadium was also facing growing competition from newer venues such as the James L. Knight Center and the Miami Arena.

The last major race at the stadium was the 1987 Inboard Hydroplane national Championship and by the 1990s, powerboat racing at the stadium was nothing but a memory.

In 1992, Hurricane Andrew struck South Florida, causing billions of dollars worth in damages. After the storm, engineers for the city condemned the stadium due to cracks found in the foundation. In later years, independent engineers would declare the structure sound although needing refurbishing, estimating repairs to be around $2 million.

Photo(Bullet, 2011): The 6,566 seat stadium was built on land donated for “water sports” such as hydroplane racing, but was later used for other sporting events and concerts.

On February 20, 2008, Friends of Miami Marine Stadium was formed, a group supporting the restoration of the stadium and since then, much progress has been made, including the designation of the stadium and basin as a historic place by Miami’s Historic Preservation and Environmental Board in 2008. It has also been recognized as an architectural masterpiece by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and World Monuments Fund.

On April 6, 2010, Miami-Dade County Commissioners passed a resolution to allocate $3-million to the stadium to start its historical preservation and return it as a venue for water sports and major concerts. It was only in March when an engineering study by the firm of Simpson Gumpertz found that renovating the stadium would cost between $5.5 and $8.5 million, which is substantially less than the $15 million the city of Miami initially said it would take to renovate the facility.

The stadium remains to be an eyesore to this day, attracting taggers, vagrants and other vandals to it’s grounds. Here’s hoping to the preservation and future of this marvelous piece of history.

Photos(Bullet, 2011): Nearly every inch of the facility is covered in graffiti.

Photographer: Bullet
Year Taken: 2011
Website: Abandoned Florida

Archive Photos

Friends of Miami Marine Stadium – A group dedicated to the preservation of the stadium.

Google News Archive-1972 article of President Nixon’s visit to Miami.

National Trust for Historic Places – The Marine Stadium is listed as an “endangered” historic place

Wikipedia – Entry on South Florida pioneer, Ralph Monroe

Related Posts
Miami Marine Stadium Off-Limits Tour

Photo by Bullet, 2011

McFadden Homestead

Photo(Bullet, 2011): Years of neglect and hurricanes has done a great deal of damage to the home.

Built near the shores of Lake Okeechobee, this house was probably no different than the others around it when it was built back in 1934. Today though, the house is just a ghost of it’s former self.

According to a friend who spoke with the caretaker of the property, the former owner of the house was a woman named Jeanne McFadden who lived in the house her entire life. Practically having any family, she died around 2006 approaching the age of 100. She had a brother though, who lived in Miami but he refused to help her in any way. As her health deteriorated, so did her home.

The reason the house hasn’t been sold or demolished is because she remained the title owner even after her death. Earlier this year, the property changed hands to the Federal Government, and it seems the home will end up like many others – a dirt lot.

Photo(Bullet, 2011): The interior of the home has been gutted and all that remains are a few toilets and a refrigerator.

Photographer: Bullet
Year Taken: 2011
Website: Abandoned Florida

Photo by Bullet, 2011

Dr. Horace Drew Residence

Photo: The H. & W. B. Drew Company plant can be seen on the right.

Columbus Drew was born on January 8, 1820 in Washington D.C. His early education was in journalism and printing. In 1844, he married Marietta Hume Robinson and they had their first son, Columbus, on December 3, 1847. In 1848, Drew moved his family to Jacksonville to start a newspaper, “The Florida Republican“. The newspaper plant was destroyed in 1854, and one year later, Drew left the newspaper business and started the “Columbus Drew Stationery Printing Company”.

During the Civil War, Drew served in the Confederate Treasury Dept. in Richmond, Virginia. In 1862, Horace Drew oversaw the business for his father until the family was forced to leave Jacksonville after Union forces captured the city. After the war, Drew returned to rebuild his business along with his son Horace. In 1876, Drew sold the business to his son after he was appointed Florida Comptroller and the business was renamed “H. Drew”. In 1891, Columbus Drew died and buried in Jacksonville’s Old City Cemetery.

In 1881, Horace’s brother William B. became a full partner of the firm and the named was changed to “H. Drew and Brother” and again in 1893 to “H. & W. B. Drew Company”. The Great Fire of 1901 destroyed the plant and a new two-story was constructed less than a year later. In 1909, a third floor was added and designed by famed architect Henry J. Klutho.

The “H. & W. B. Drew Company” moved into the McConihe Building in 1921 after purchasing it from former mayor Luther McConihe; it would later be demolished in 1971 for the construction of the Independent Life Building. Horace continued to operate the business as President until his death in 1926. In 1997, Wells Legal Supply Inc. acquired the company to form the Wells & Drew Companies.

Photo: The Drew residence can be seen on the far end of the street.

The Springfield Historic District is a neighborhood of Jacksonville and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Originally part of a tract of land known as “Hogan’s Donation”, part of it was divided up following the end of the Civil War for residential redevelopment to become the suburbs of Hansontown and Franklintown. In 1869, half of the remaining available land was divided up and put up for sale. It was named Springfield for a “spring of good water in a field” and is credited to Calvin. L Robinson, a Jacksonville merchant.

On May 3, 1901, a fire broke out in a mattress factory, engulfing most of the city’s downtown area in less than eight hours which would later be known as the Great Jacksonville Fire of 1901. Thousands of residents survived the fire by fleeing to Springfield as the marshy area of Hogan’s Creek help to keep the flames from spreading in their direction. The fire left many people homeless, causing many of them to move to Springfield. The next two decades became Springfield greatest period of residential growth, having a population of over 8,000 by 1909.

Photo(Nomeus, 2011 – The house is easily identifiable by it’s distinguishing features such as the tower and red tiled roof.

It was around this time when Dr. Horace Drew moved to Springfield, moving into a large and unique home which was built in 1909, at a corner near Hogans Creek, what is now Springfield Park. A description by the house by the Jacksonville Architectural Heritage reads:

Sited prominently on a corner near Hogans Creek, this exotic residence is a highly visible Springfield landmark. It also exhibits one of the most inventive uses of concrete blocks as a building material in Jacksonville. Both the smooth and ashlar-finished blocks are used, and many of the blocks were cast at odd angles, such as on the hexagonal columns, the tower, and the projecting bays. The eclectic design borrows elements from the Tudor Revival, Queen Anne, and Spanish Colonial Revival styles. Its base is elevated more than adjacent residences, adding to the vertical projection of the multi-planed roofline, gables, and three-story tower. The composition is enriched by harmonious colors found in the gables with half-timbering over stucco, the clay tile roof, and concrete walls.

Photo by Bullet, 2011
Photo(Bullet, 2011): The interior of the house has deteriorated mostly due to water damage.

Photographer: Bullet
Year Taken: 2011
Website: Abandoned Florida

Photographer: Nomeus
Year Taken: 2011
Website: FLURBEX