Save the Grove

Help stop a developer from demolishing this historic 1920 home.

Come to a hearing with the Historic Preservation Board at 3pm, December 2, City Hall.


The residence at 3529 Saint Gaudens Road in Coconut Grove was designed by the prominent architectural firm, Kiehnel & Elliott, which was formed in Pittsburgh by Richard Kiehnel (1870-1944) and John B. Elliot and had offices in Miami and Miami Beach.[1] Mr. Kiehnel was in charge of the Florida offices.[2]

The structure exemplifies the Mediterranean style, an architectural mode introduced by Kiehnel & Elliott to South Florida with their design of the John Bindley mansion “El Jardin” in Coconut Grove in 1917[3], which is now Carrollton School of the Sacred Heart and is on the National Register of Historic Places. The Mediterranean style has proven to become the most influential in the area’s history. This old-looking but actually then-newly invented style was particularly appropriate for Florida, which was booming with new construction in the early 1900s.[4] Florida had historic ties to Spain and had the warm climate to which this architecture was especially suited in that era before air-conditioning.[5] The Mediterranean style gave a young Miami a manufactured sense of age, tradition and history.[6]
  “[Richard Kiehnel] came early to Miami, recognized the Mediterranean trend, accepted it eagerly and gave it impetus. Without question he was a source of major influence on the Miami development of this trend. Kiehnel realized that the charm of old-world buildings resulted from the softness of age. Thus, in a variety of ways he attempted to telescope time, to give his new buildings the outward signs of aging. He experimented with textured stucco. He applied paint in three or four colors-making sure that each coat allowed some of the base colors to show through. He used cast stone with artificial veinings and porous surfaces; and he nudged time through the use of organic applications…to encourage the quick growth of mildew....The Mediterranean trend and Kiehnel's technique for its local adaptation-swept with incredible swiftness throughout the State. In Miami there were probably more men hammering out wrought iron gates, grilles, light fixtures and railings than anywhere else in the world.[7]
​ Other South Florida buildings designed by Kiehnel & Elliott include:
 ·    Coral Gables Congregational Church,[8] 3010 DeSoto Boulevard, Coral Gables. National Register of Historic Places.
·    Coral Gables Elementary School,[9] 105 Minorca Avenue, Coral Gables. National Register of Historic Places.
·    Miami Senior High School,[10] 2450 SW First Street, Miami. National Register of Historic Places.
·    Seybold Building,[11] Miami.
·    Carlyle Hotel,[12] Miami Beach.
·    Scottish Rite Temple, located on the Miami River at 71 NW 3rd Street, Miami. This is first Art Deco building in the area.[13]
·    La Brisa, 3551 Main Highway, Coconut Grove, originally platted in 1886 for Kirk Munroe, one of Miami’s pioneers, and recently stated to be Miami’s most expensive listing.[14]
·    Coconut Grove Playhouse, 3500 Main Highway. Originally designed by Kiehnel & Elliott for Coconut Grove’s first mayor, Irving J. Thomas, who at one point was the secretary-treasurer at Sunshine Fruits Company and who a resident of Saint Gaudens Road.[15]  
This residence is associated in a significant way with the life of a person important in the past and exemplifies the historical, cultural and social trends of the community. Located in the Justison and Frantz subdivision of Coconut Grove, the structure was designed by Kiehnel & Elliott for Albert William Frantz,[16] who, along with this wife, Belle Ione Blackman,[17] had house guests there as early as 1923.[18]

Mr. Frantz was born in 1876 in Kenosha, Wisconsin, son of Captain Charles Frantz and Angeline Frantz, and he moved to Coconut Grove in 1917.[19] The Justison and Frantz subdivision that this property is located in was platted in 1920, and Mr. Frantz owned the property from 1920 through 1943.
 Mr. Frantz and Harold deBussy Justison (1880-1934), former mayor of Coconut Grove (1920-1925) and resident of Saint Gaudens Road,[20] were co-owners of the Sunshine Fruits Company, which was incorporated in 1910 and was heavily involved in the development of Coconut Grove property.[21] When Mr. Frantz moved to Coconut Grove in 1917, he helped manage Sunshine Fruits Company in the absence of Mr. Justison, who had joined the Navy during the war.[22] The company, whose office was originally in the living room of a cottage on Saint Gaudens Road, has been described as having been “instrumental in bringing many people of importance to Coconut Grove.”[23] Mr. Justison was its President and founder, and Mr. Frantz was its Vice-President and Treasurer.[24] The Sunshine Fruits Company developed Ozone Avenue (now Saint Gaudens Road) and the subdivisions of Bayview Road, Sunshine Villas, and Douglas Circle, and acquired several hundred acres of grapefruit groves in the vicinity of Coconut Grove; furthermore, the company built The Sunshine Inn.[25] In fact, the subdivision that the subject property is located in was named after Mr. Frantz and Mr. Justison.
  Aside from his affiliation with the Sunshine Fruits Company, Mr. Frantz was secretary and treasurer of the Proctor Hardware Company of Coconut Grove.[26]  
Mr. Justison founded the Boy Scout and Girl Scout movements in Coconut Grove, was a member and past commander of the Lindley de Garmo post of the American Legion, and assisted in founding Gulliver school in Coconut Grove.[27]
 The subject property is not only the outstanding work of a prominent designer, but also embodies distinguishing characteristics of an architectural style or period and method of construction. What is more, it contains elements of design, detail, materials and craftsmanship of outstanding quality and represents a significant innovation and adaptation to the South Florida environment. The two-story structure, located on an 18,800 square-foot lot, is a stunning specimen of the South Florida Mediterranean style and features characteristic original hardwood floors, wood burning fireplace, red tiled roof, stuccoed walls, wood balcony and lush vegetation. The structure is in pristine shape, especially with respect to its poly-chromed balustrades, which are presently rarely available in their original condition. The quality of the construction is evidenced by how little has changed on the property through the years.
 In sum, this estate is significant historically, culturally, socially, aesthetically and architecturally, and therefore clearly meets the criteria set forth in Section 23-4 of the City of Miami’s Historic Preservation Ordinance, including:
It is associated in a significant way with the life of a person important in the past;
It exemplifies the historical, cultural, political, economical or social trends of the community;
It portrays the environment in an era of history characterized by one or more distinctive architectural styles;
It embodies those distinguishing characteristics of an architectural style, or period or method of construction;
It is an outstanding work of a prominent designer or builder; and
It contains elements of design, detail, materials, or craftsmanship of outstanding quality or which represent a significant innovation or adaptation to the South Florida environment.  

​ [1] Florida, the East Coast: Its Builders, Resources, Industries, Town and City Developments, The Miami Herald, c 1924 at 246, 251. [2] Id. at 246. [3] Kiehnel & Elliott and the Mediterranean Style at 3. [4] Id. at 2. [5] Id. [6] Id. at 7. [7] Id. at 8-9. [8] Id. at 17. [9] Id. [10] Id. [11] Id. [12] Id. at 18. [13] Id. [14] Sean McCaughan, Miami’s Most Expensive Listing is $65 Million, and Spectacular, Curbed Miami, (Oct. 16, 2014) http://miami.curbed.com/archives/2014/10/16/miamis-most-expensive-listing-is-65-million-and-spectacular.php. [15] The Thomas/Stamps House, Arva Parks & Co., July 2003 at 6. [16] Florida, the East Coast: Its Builders, Resources, Industries, Town and City Developments at 246; see also id. at 28; Kiehnel & Elliott and the Mediterranean Style at 16. [17] Id. at 154. [18] Coconut Grove News, The Miami Herald, Feb. 16, 1923 at 8. [19] Florida, the East Coast: Its Builders, Resources, Industries, Town and City Developments at 154. [20] H.D’B Justison, Coconut Grove Developer, Dies, The Miami News, Oct. 3, 1934 at 13. [21] Florida, the East Coast: Its Builders, Resources, Industries, Town and City Developments at 154. [22] The Thomas/Stamps House at 7. [23] Well Established Real Estate Firm had a Novel Origin, The Miami Daily Metropolis, March 3, 1923. [24] Florida, the East Coast: Its Builders, Resources, Industries, Town and City Developments at 154. [25] Id. [26] Id. [27] H.D’B Justison, Coconut Grove Developer, Dies at 13.

about