Vizcaya: the bayside

The main facade of Vizcaya is really the 'back', facing Biscayne Bay. The first time Deering ever saw his completed winter house was actually arriving by boat.
Paul Chalfin designed the house to appear as having been built over time. The center balcony is off of Deering's private bathroom with his bedroom suite to the far right, while the left hand side of the balcony is the main guest suite. The rear terrace was set with a tent for a party the day we visited, hiding the first floor. Now stone covered, the terrace was originally a carpet of grass. This construction photo shows the first floor as well as gives you an idea of what the house looked like when the center was an entirely open courtyard. You can see right through the house to the entry drive.
The terrace steps right down to the water. Deering actually chose the location for the house, unusually close to the water, against the advice of the design team members. This relationship is so important in person that it was an ingenius decision.Just to the right is the tea house, built prominently out into the bay.Probably the most charming space on the entire estate, I can see breakfasts and afternoon tea being served here. Besides the view back at the house seen below, an excellent view of downtown Miami is also visible.The use of interior trellis was big at the time, popularized by Elsie de Wolfe, who had recommended Paul Chalfin to assist Deering. The teahouse as well as a boat landing flank the house (opposite from the teahouse)and are reached via Venetian styled bridges.
The most well known aspect of the garden is probably the stone barge, built out in the bay from the terrace.Originally, the barge was heavily planted, covered with statues and had a small pavilion as well. This design obviously doesn't weather hurricane season very well and is a bit high maintenance for a house museum! Below you see the barge in 1934, a simplified version after the 1926 hurricane.Just around the corner from the terrace was the swimming pool.The swimming pool, in Roman fashion, is submerged half into the house and half in the open air, so that entry can be gained without going outside in your bathing costume (this was prior to the bikini being the official dress code of Miami). You see the bay to the left and how the pool enters the basement to the right.
This wouldn't be ArchitectDesign without some boring detail shots. The concrete terrace drains off the side through these scuppers and into the planting bed below (and then into the bay??).
And in case one should fall overboard, life preservers are at the ready!

Adjacent to the pool is entry into the lower level of the house which once held a bowling alley and smoking room but is soon to hold the newly refurbished cafe and gift shop! I'll be giving you a sneak peek soon when I start the interior tour of Vizcaya.
The 2 historic photos come from the book 'Vizcaya, an American Villa and it's Makers' by Witold Rygbczynski and Laurie Olin.

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