A community effort to honor the legacy and history of a
Miami Modern landmark.
THE DEAUVILLE STILL STANDS, AND HOPE STILL FLOATS
As Mark Twain is reputed to have said, "The reports of my death are exaggerated."
Many people are under the mistaken impression that the Deauville Hotel and Resort has already been fully demolished - this is not correct. It stems from multiple news media writing about the fact that the city has issued a demolition permit, but not parsing the finer details of what the process entails, and that some demolition has indeed begun. More about that in a minute. But for now, know that the Deauville still stands, albeit a bit battered and bruised. Here's the latest.
1. The big news is that the Miami Design Preservation League has published the long-awaited report from an independent structural engineer, and it gives a lot of reason for optimism. MDPL had hired its own engineer to review the data provided in the original report, and the short version is that the data presented in the owners' report, and the conclusions reached from it, do not support the City's building official deeming total demolition necessary because of an imminent threat to life safety. As such, there was no reason for the owners and the City to circumvent the normal process of getting approvals of how the building would be renovated from the Historic Planning Board, and beginning an unnecessary demolition without a plan of what will follow.
2) Meanwhile, there has indeed been some demolition. If you're not already familiar with the Meruelos' unfortunate history, this may have come as a shock, but for those who are familiar...not so much. Just a week after the Judge's ruling (read the transcript) and two days after the City issued the final demolition permit, on a gorgeous Saturday afternoon with NO NOTICING of affected business and residents, the Meruelos moved in with their tools of destruction.
With seeming malice aforethought, they tore down pieces of the iconic porte cochere, leaving the iconic Deauville in the debris like something ready to be sold for scrap metal. It could not have been a bigger "up yours" to the City, the North Beach community, and those who have been following this story around the world.
Since then, some limited demolition work continues, with questionable asbestos mitigation, and with absolute blatant disregard for historic elements. When asked by the City about architecturally significant elements worthy of saving, the owners have not shown themselves willing to partner with the City, or the many cultural institutions interested in giving those elements a home (or, ideally, reincorporating those elements in the renovated hotel). Again, par for the course with these owners.
IT WAS MORE THAN THE BEATLES…
The world should note that the history of the Deauville also includes visits, speeches, and performances in the iconic Napoleon Ballroom by an incredible array of show business and political legends. 1. Frank Sinatra 2. Dean Martin 3. Sammy Davis Jr. 4. Buster Keaton 5. Bing Crosby 6. Mickey Rooney 7. Jimmy Durante 8. Judy Garland 9. The Beatles 10. Connie Francis 11. Danny Thomas 12. Don Rickles 13. Ed Sullivan 14. Jerry Lewis 15. Glen Campbell 16. Tom Jones 17. Carol Channing 18. Dick Clark 19. Joan Rivers 20. Wayne Newton 21. Benny Goodman 22. President Richard M. Nixon 23. President John F. Kennedy 24. President Ronald Reagan 25. Eleanor Roosevelt 26. Louis Armstrong 27. Liza Minelli 28. Johnny Mathis 29. Sonny & Cher 30. Liberace 31. Sarah Vaughan 32. Diana Ross 33. Lena Horne 34. Sophie Tucker 35. Phil Silvers 36. Betty Grable 37. Milton Berle 38. Lorne Greene 39. Red Buttons 40. George Gobel 41. Tony Bennett 42. Mitzi Gaynor
THANK YOU FOR YOUR DONATIONS...
AND THANK YOU, MITZI GAYNOR, FOR YOUR SUPPORT!
JANUARY 10, 2021
"The ability of the owners to methodically destroy a priceless piece of North Beach history and shutter an engine of our economy for five years, all of it in plain sight, clear for all to see, is a testament to the inability of our laws... to protect our history and our community. "
The sentiments of a resident of the Deauville District spark additional questions which deserve careful consideration regarding the process and procedures which have led to this point:
• Why was this LTC issued after 5 pm on a Friday night?
In April 2021, the Meruelo family -- owners of the Deauville -- filed an application with the Miami Beach Historic Preservation Board (HPB) for total demolition. The incomplete application was rejected and a judge requested them to complete an application in order for it to be reviewed by the Historic Preservation Board, a policy required for historically designated properties.
With this, the HPB will be able to hear the application and review the family’s proposal. Once these details are made public, community input will be heard at a public hearing where five of the seven HPB members would have to vote ‘yes’ to allow the demolition of any part of the building.
With that in mind, we urge the public to be on high alert and vigilant since it is well past time this issue is resolved favorably to preserve, protect, and rehabilitate this building. The fight will be challenging and stems from a series of small incidents that have created a major impasse. Rather than investing in a small set of upgrades caused by an electrical fire in 2017 (which itself was caused by an unpermitted electrical work), damage was exacerbated as a result of the 2017 hurricane, and the hotel has been closed ever since. The family has aggressively pursued a course of ‘demolition by neglect’ that is not only destroying this landmark and historically-contributing property, but has adversely affected the encompassing business and tourism community to the extent that squatters are now occupying rooms once visited by paying guests.
Although the story of the Deauville is a sad, tragic, and completely unnecessary plight driven by greed and a lack of historic perspective, the City, as well as the community, knows the solution. It is preventing the family from committing ‘demolition by neglect’ and enforcing in-place policies that lead to ‘restoration by design’.
A Deauville District Resident
Sixty years after the debut of the Hotel Deauville, decades of neglect forced this classic resort to be shuttered. Recognizing its rich history which includes guests such as President Kennedy, Frank Sinatra, and Judy Garland, it is best known for its most famous visitors: The Beatles, who called the Deauville their Miami Beach home when they arrived to perform live on The Ed Sullivan Show from the hotel's Napoleon Ballroom. Driven by history, a collective of historians, writers, musicians, journalists, community activists and Beatles fans across America and around the world are now focused on efforts to restore the landmark hotel and have launched the 2/16/24 Initiative to assist the hotel's owners, the City of Miami Beach, and the Miami Design Preservation League in re-opening the restored hotel in time for the 60th Anniversary of the Beatles' 1964 appearance.
We encourage you to look through our historic archives, read newspaper and magazine reports, watch videos, and learn more about this magnificent Miami Modern hotel. And then add your voice to this worthy cause.
News Past and Present
On September 10th, historian Amy Hughes presented a visual recap of the Beatles' visit to Miami and history of the Hotel Deauville. A panel discussion moderated by Daniel Ciraldo of the Miami Design Preservation League included panelists Margot Winick, Bob Kealing, Gary McKechnie, Amy Hughes, and Miami Beach commissioner Steve Meiner.
In 2014, the Miami Herald marked the 50th Anniversary of the Beatles' visit with deep-dive reporting about the week that became part of the city's history. From their arrival to their stay at the Deauville, click the image to learn more.