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Vizcaya’s Marine Garden is Reopening Tomorrow After More Than Ten Years

June 6, 2016 by Sean McCaughan
Vizcaya Marine Garden.

Vizcaya Marine Garden.

Closed more than ten years ago due to hurricane damage, the fabulous marine garden and peacock bridge at Vizcaya Museum & Gardens, the former estate of International Harvester tycoon James Dearing, are reopening tomorrow. There will be an event for members in the evening, before opening to the public on Wednesday (the museum and gardens are closed on Tuesdays). An original piece of the Vizcaya estate, the space incorporates a large aquarium-like canal that connects to the canal running underneath a high oriental-inspired bridge known as the ‘peacock bridge’ and to Biscayne Bay.

Hidden for years behind a locked, foliage-covered gate (and a gorgeous sarcophagus), the garden and bridge extend south from the circular rose garden with its large fountain and ends abruptly at the grounds of Immaculata-La Salle High School and Mercy Hospital. This jewel of Vizcaya with its aquatic fantasyland that would practically invite visitors on an escapade under the sea also exposes the museum’s deepest scar.

Before its closer to the public, visitors would climb up the ornate bridge and from the top face head-on an unsightly high school and hospital campus built over the remains of the rest of Vizcaya’s huge gardens that included canals, lakes, bridges, architectural follies, a boathouse, tennis courts, a ‘casbah’ (the casbah actually still survives behind the high school’s sports fields and is probably a favorite necking spot with students), and untold other wonders. And leading to all of that they would see directly before them the ruined remains of an aquarium-canal matching the one they had just walked through. These magnificent outer gardens were easily twice the size of all of the gardens which remain at Vizcaya. Handed over to the Archdiocese of Miami by the Dearing heirs, who honestly never really knew what to do with it, this was Vizcaya’s real marine garden. The happy reopening of the little marine garden tomorrow is only a taste of what lies buried and forgotten beyond.

Vintage postcard showing the former marine gardens of Vizcaya.

Vintage postcard showing the former marine gardens of Vizcaya.

Vizcaya Gardens circa 1930.

Vizcaya Gardens circa 1930.

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