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Dora Ewing house may be saved

Updated news regarding the Alfred Browning Parker designed Dora Ewing residence, located at 3701 El Prado Boulevard, we wrote about it here. You may remember it was slated for demolition, but I heard from Frank Schnidman, land use attorney who represents the owner. It seems as if the house could be spared. The owner will donated it to a a local organization.

The owner is being generous but also smart, he doesn't have to demolish the house and be the bad guy, he doesn't have to pay for it to be demolished and he doesn't have to pay for it to be moved or renovated. Someone else does if they accept the donation; and the expense afterwards.

Photo by Ezra Stoller

From Frank:

The current owner bought the property at a bank foreclosure sale (the property has been vacant since 2011), and put it on the market. It did not sell because of the deteriorated structure on the site. The owner sought a demolition permit, and that because of the age of the building, triggered a Hep Board (Historic and Environmental Preservation Board). review.

The owner withdrew the demolition permit application, but the HEP Board realized who the architect was (Alfred Browning Parker), and decided to play the role of Applicant for historic designation, and seek  Historic Preservation staff preparation of a Preliminary Designation Report.

On February 5 the HEP Board will review the Preliminary Designation Report and decide if a full Designation Report will be prepared. It is likely that the next step, a Designation Report, will be prepared.

In the interim, since it is the HEP Board that is the Applicant, and not the owner, the owner commissioned and paid for a Building Inspection Report and a Structural Inspection Report, as the HEP Board and Historic Preservation staff are REQUIRED by the Miami Code to do a current conditions report as part of the designation investigation. These Inspection and Structural Reports basically show that the building is an unsafe structure and that substantial problems exist with all systems. The Structural Inspection Report recommends demolition as it is a unsafe structure and it is uneconomic for the private owner to restore the structure.

However, Randolph C. Henning, the architect that is the recognized expert on Alfred Browning Parker and the author of The Architecture of Alfred Browning Parker—Miami’s Maverick Modernist, wrote to the HEP Board about the importance to the public of this structure, and that “It should be saved, valued and honored as an important, integral and indispensable component of the built environment of Coconut Grove and South Florida.”

The owner, not being able to afford the restoration that would be required simply by the accident of ownership,  has the option to go through with the demolition as allowed by law. However, he has decided instead to donate the structure to the Dade Heritage Trust, or the City of Miami or the University of Miami for timely relocation to a public site, restoration and opening to the public to actually experience a leading example of an Alfred Browning Parker home. Certainly, if this structure is as important to the public as has been alleged, the owner is reluctant to seek demolition, but rather is offering to donate it to the public, who can much more easily afford the restoration than the individual owner, and public ownership comes with the public access so that rather than demolition, the Dade Heritage Trust and/or others who espouse historic preservation can proudly provide public access to an important public resource.

The discussion of the Preliminary Designation Report for the Dora Ewing Residence and the decision to move forward with the preparation of a Designation Report is now before the HEP Board for February 5, at 3 pm.

Here is the link to the agenda, and the Dora Ewing Residence is Item 1, with background from pages 10-107. As the attorney representing the owner, Frank submitted materials that are included at pages 38-107.

This post first appeared on Coconut Grove Grapevine, please read the originial post: here

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Dora Ewing house may be saved


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