Pope bought the house in 1994 and moved in a year later, as soon as she could walk on the floors and had one bathroom working.
Saying it needed everything is an understatement. The house needed to be jacked up to make the floors level. When the fake wood paneling was removed, several coats of paint were exposed and the walls needed to be replastered. She replaced the old-fashioned awning windows with wood custom casement windows that look like an original she found in the bathroom. She took out the brick planters on either side of the fireplace, removed the brick veneer facade and created a surround in plaster to echo the arched doorway between the living and dining rooms. The carpets were removed to expose the original wood floors.
“I happen to have a friend who rented the house and he said they used to play hockey in the living room,” Pope says. “Luckily, the floors had carpeting.”
James Fendelman and Wendy Joffe liked the cottage their friends owned so much that they bought it 28 years ago. Cross ventilation. A veranda that wraps around three sides. Dade County pine floors. Nirvana.
“This house has had so many people in it and I felt friendly spirits,” Joffe, a psychologist who is also interested in the metaphysical, says. “It still has a lot of good energy.”
Dunlop says the cottage may have been occupied by a sea captain. (Slots for nautical charts were in the stairway.) But it was originally built for a manager or grove keeper of the Sunshine Fruits Co., a catalyst for the Grove’s early development.
Laura Newmark, an interior and garden designer and longtime friend, was hired to help with renovations. The changes, which involved removing walls and building an addition, were done in three phases over several years. The furnishings, which are mostly family antiques, were re-covered in lighter colors such as turquoise, blue and white.
A wall was removed on the front veranda. Another wall was taken down between the two front rooms. The sitting area is near the fireplace, which was cleaned to bring out the stone and topped with a heftier wood mantel than the original. A home theater with large flat screen TV and a state of the art sound system caters to Fendelman’s love affair with movies. No wonder. He used to own the Grove Art Cinema with his brother, Richard.
New cabinetry was added to the kitchen in 1996, which features original hand-painted tiles. That same year they built an addition with an office, bath and closets.
Upstairs some of the space was reconfigured, closets were built, bathrooms were remodeled and a laundry chute was added because the washer-dryer was moved downstairs. Four sleeping porches were converted into the master bedroom. An extended balcony makes it appear that they are living in the trees.
The outside shingles are now stained a rich dark brown, a far cry from the peeling paint and former owners’ attempts at different colors of paint. The wood windows are original. Hurricane Andrew blew away the barn at the corner of the garden, but no damage was done to the house despite the fact the windows are not storm-resistant and there are no hurricane shutters.
“We are surrounded by a canopy of plants and as long as you are inside the canopy like we are, it isn’t that bad,” Fendelman says.