Video: Of Rubble and Remembrance

Seville’s exuberant Giralda — the bell tower of the city’s cathedral, built atop a minaret in the sixteenth century — has inspired many more recent structures. But beginning in the mid-1920s only Miami could boast three buildings with soaring Giralda-style towers: The Roney Plaza Hotel on Miami Beach, the Miami News Building (now known as Freedom Tower), and the Coral Gables Biltmore. All three were designed by Schultze and Weaver, perhaps the premier hotel designers of their time. Today two of those tall towers still stand.

Given Miami’s penchant for knocking down one generation’s fantasy to make way for the next generation’s, two out of three, as the song goes, ain’t bad. The survival of the Biltmore and Freedom Tower is something to celebrate.

But with this melancholy clip we mourn the loss of the Roney Plaza Hotel, opened in 1926 and demolished in 1968, when WTVJ aired this news story, reported by Ed Goren. Goren scored two primo interviews: Pete Chase, who worked for Carl Fisher back in the day, and Carl Fisher’s widow Jane. Each shares colorful memories of the Roney Plaza’s heyday — as the walls come tumbling down.

Video and audio included in this post is copyrighted/owned by the Lynn and Louis Wolfson II Florida Moving Image Archives.

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