Unusual Homes of Florida

January 24th, 2017

Florida homes are extremely diverse, and have been shaped by an eclectic array of different architectural styles. In this edition of Learning from Miami, we visit some very unconventional residences and the people who call these places home.

 South Miami Dome Home

In this clip, architect Bob Koger, invites WTVJ to tour his energy efficient Geodesic Dome home.

 

Solomon’s Castle

Howard Solomon moved to Florida from the Bahamas. He purchased 40 acres of land on the edge of a swamp and began building a house with his own hands. The house eventually grew into the 12,000-sq.-ft. Solomon’s Castle and has become a roadside attraction near the town of Ona, about 50 miles east of Bradenton. Solomon covered his castle in an unconventional material: he recycled aluminum galvanized printing plates and used them to adorn his home. The structure features multiple towers and turrets, a dungeon, a drawbridge, a lighthouse and a wide moat, where Solomon built a 65-foot-long replica of a Spanish galleon. In this clip Howard Solomon explains why he built his silver castle in the swamp.

 

 Stiltsville

Stiltsville is the site of a curious neighborhood of stilt houses perched on sand flats a mile offshore from the Cape Florida Lighthouse, and accessible only by boat. Legend has it that Stiltsville’s first shack was built by “Crawfish” Eddie Walker in 1933. In addition to bait, beer, and crawfish chowder, Eddie’s island kingdom also offered gambling, which was apparently legal if located at least one mile offshore. By the late 1930s and early 1940s, Crawfish Eddie’s gambling shack was joined by a handful of other social clubs, whose members also appreciated the legal leeway that came with distance from the mainland.

In 1965, after Hurricane Betsy destroyed Crawfish Eddie’s and some of the other establishments of Stiltsville, the State of Florida issued formal leases for the bay bottom and refused to permit any new structures. In 1976, the state renewed those leases, but inserted an expiry date of 1999, after which any remaining stilt houses would need to be removed at the owners’ expense. Today, all that remains of Stiltsville are seven abandoned houses standing on pilings in shallow water. 

 

This Thursday (January 26), travel back in time with writer and history consultant Sylvia Gurinsky as she shares some fascinating facts about Florida’s retro roadside attractions. Sit back and enjoy the view as you watch curated film and video clips from various vanished tourist spots like the Kapok Tree, the Upside-Down House and the Miami Wax Museum. Admission to “Roadside Florida: Pirate Ships and Wax Works” is free and the event is open to the public. The screening will be on January 26, 2017, and begins at 6:30 PM at the North Dade-Aventura Branch Library. Please click this link for more information and to RSVP: https://www.facebook.com/events/1351364348217770/

 

-Ursa Gil

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