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Coconut grove

McFarlane Historic District

Brooker street and Frow avenue

Frow avenue and Brooker street

4614 Brooker street


Section drawing by Amber Vazquez/ Christopher Borges
Elevation drawings by Rocio Rodriguez/Christopher Borges
Floor plan  drawn by Daniel Carillo/Christopher Borges
copyrights jose vazquez 2019

Village West Coconut Grove, Miami 

a historic  heritage site



The McFarlane Historic District includes a distinctive group of vernacular structures built between 1900 to 1940 in a immigrant Bahamian community west of Coconut Grove. A row of  "shotgun" houses built during the 1930s became the focus of my fieldwork project this past spring semester. This historic district includes the few remaining shotguns in an area of  Coconut Grove known as “Village West”. Early on I decided to focus on a corner row house at the intersection of Brooker street and Frow avenue. The shotgun (4614 Brooker street) is one of four identical buildings sharing a single narrow lot. Their current owner, the Greater St. Paul A.M.E. church, is planning to restore these houses and rent them as low-income housing. Presently this house is unoccupied.  

The objectives  underlying the fieldwork school project  included the production of a historic building survey that could be used during the house planned restoration. It also was intended to introduce students to historic preservation theory and the methodological aspects required in order to conduct historical building survey. The project was undertaken by students from Miami Dade College school of architecture enrolled in the architectural drawing course I have been teaching for the past fifteen years.  The project first visit featured a talk by reverend Nathaniel Robinson explaining community's history and the challenges posed by gentrification, lack of economic opportunities, and affordable housing currently facing the its residents. The class was organized into several groups, each tasked with documenting the site, the floor layout , exterior and interior elevations, and architectural details. The documentation process required several additional visits to finalize the survey to make corrections to the original survey drawings. The house at #4614 is  remarkably well preserved although water and termite damage are evident on exterior walls and floors supporting structure. Original windows do not open and electrical and plumbing will have to be replaced. The roof structure could not be documented because it was not accessible. The original construction did not feature either a kitchen or a bathroom both which were added later. This addition comprised a single slope roof structure added the back of the original gabled roof house.

This fieldwork project in Coconut Grove will continue this summer term with another group of architecture students. This project not only was intended to introduce students to issues related to historic preservation, research and documentation but also to attendant political and social aspects that are becoming increasingly relevant among under served historical communities throughout Miami metropolitan area (JRV).


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