Coconut Grove’s historic ‘La Brisa’ has just hit the market for $65 million, making it the most expensive residence currently for sale in Miami-Dade County.
The 6.9-acre waterfront property is not only a lovingly-restored mansion, but a very interesting piece of history.
The Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate Listing is located on 207 feet of waterfront along Biscayne Bay and offers 9 bedrooms, 8 full baths, three partial baths, and 16,500 square feet of indoor/outdoor living space.
The home is secluded behind a private gate in the heart of Coconut Grove, the “original Miami,” which has attracted business tycoons, artists, novelists and celebrities since the late 1800s.
La Brisa features views of Biscayne Bay and the Atlantic Ocean across an expanse of well-manicured lawn stretching toward the mangrove-lined waterfront, which is accessible by an elevated walkway leading to an octagonal viewing deck over the bay. A protected 536-foot long canal, borders the northern side of property, and leads to a comfortable private port constructed by the current owner that accommodates a 70-foot yacht and offers direct ocean access.
The meticulously landscaped property is dotted with mature trees including towering centenary Canarian Date Palms, royal palms, royal poincianas, mahogany, oak and gumbo limbo trees, some which are nearly as old as the house itself, some much older, as well as a stately banyan tree that straddles the property and a hidden cobblestone path. The property also has a unique spring-fed pond nestled among a beautiful assortment of palms, trees and foliage.
The home itself sits upon an ancient coral reef approximately 23 feet above sea level. The Mediterranean-style home features 13,803 square feet “under air” plus an additional 3,338 square feet of outdoor living space including several picturesque balconies and covered porches, for a total square footage of 17,141. Unique architectural details include original woodwork on the upper-floor galleries, intricate keystones above the entryways that have been carefully restored, arched doors and windows, and an assortment of wrought-iron and wood balconies providing vistas of both property and water.
Nearly every room flows into an outdoor space, whether it’s one of the many balconies or walkways, or through direct access to the pool patio. The four-car garage is a coach house with two bedrooms above.
The pool and sunken fire pit are surrounded by an expansive patio made from coral stone, which can easily accommodate a party of 250. The property also includes a two-bedroom, Key West-style guest cottage.
A Historic Masterpiece
La Brisa boasts a colorful history that dates back to the early settlers of Coconut Grove. The land was first deeded in 1886 to Kirk Munroe, a noted author of children’s adventure novels and books about Florida, and his wife Mary Barr Munroe. The Munroes included several well-known authors in their circle of friends, and were introduced to Florida by Munroe’s sister, who was married to the youngest son of Harriett Beecher Stowe, author ofUncle Tom’s Cabin.
During the Spanish-American War, Munroe supplied water from La Brisa’s spring – which still exists today and feeds a natural pool – was transported 120 miles south for the American troops anchored in Key West. Reportedly, a box of Florida orange blossoms from the Munroe property that was shipped to Henry Flagler convinced him to bring his railroad south to Miami.
The Munroes sold the land in 1920 to John B. Semple, a Pittsburgh lawyer, who tore down the existing wood-frame home and commissioned prolific architects Kiehnel and Elliott to build a “winter cottage,” which is now called La Brisa Kiehnel and Elliott were active in Miami from the early 1920s to the early ‘40s and are known for their Mediterranean Revival style featuring pastel stucco walls, red-tile roofs, wrought iron details and elaborate accents along entryways, rooflines and windows. The firm was involved in the design some of Miami’s most notable period buildings, including El Jardin (now the Carrollton School of the Sacred Heart), the Coconut Grove Playhouse, the Bryan Memorial Methodist Church (now Bet-Ovadia Chabad of the Grove), and Miami Senior High School.
The property was later purchased by anthropologist Henry Field, a grand-nephew of the founder of the Marshall Field’s department store chain, and his wife Julia, who was a lion tamer and first curator of the Crandon Park Zoo.