You would never know it’s there unless you happen to know it’s there — one of those serene, hidden havens that somehow survive the implacable march of development in Miami.
On a hard-to-find bend of the Little River, on the edge of Little Haiti and smack-dab in the middle of the city, the Magic City Farm is all that and more: A botanical garden, an Ark, a time capsule, a work of art.
There is a renovated coral-pink farmhouse, circa 1918, a converted boathouse whose doors open to the edge of the slow-moving water, and six clapboard cabins salvaged from a nearby 1920s tourist motor-court. The brightly colored buildings are set amid a shady, well-tended grove of native and exotic tropical fruit trees, palms, flowering bushes and a bevy of rescued animals — cats, dogs, ducks, chickens and a pot-bellied pig — who have free run of the one-acre property.
But it’s the interiors that best display the owner’s keenly honed sensibility and utterly original eye. Nearly every inch of space is artfully draped, hung and covered with an ever-changing collection of rugs and brightly patterned textiles from Asia, and arrangements of pieces from her extensive accumulation of found objects and Southern folk and outsider art.
The furnishings — “eclectic” doesn’t begin to capture the esthetic — are a mix of handmade, rustic, ethnic and thrift-shop finds.
And it’s all for sale. Just about every last bit of it.
Owner Tamara Hendershot, a South Beach pioneer who for the past dozen years has made a living renting out the place for photo shoots, is 70 and has been slowed by arthritis. Though very much hands-on, unafraid of hammering and sawing, she fears she can no longer handle the substantial upkeep, which she carries out with help from a small part-time staff.
“Leaving it is leaving my dream. It’s an inner peace you get here that I’ve never felt anywhere else,’’ Hendershot said as she stood in the garden, paint brush in hand, her bare feet spotted with brown stain finish from a set of new French doors she was readying for the boathouse. “But I don’t want to see it start falling apart with me in it.’’
Asking price: $1.35M
Hendershot doesn’t want to sell to just anyone. The asking price is designed to discourage anyone who would not treasure the place: $1.35 million, far above the modest prices fetched by other homes in the quiet, single-family Oakland Grove neighborhood, which is occupied mostly by Haitian families. The listing agent is Esther Percal, realtor to celebrities and an old friend from crazy South Beach days.
The art collection, for sale separately, includes several paintings by late Overtown artist and Hendershot friend Purvis Young, an early work by Roberto Juarez, and pieces by outsider artists she found and befriended during forays into northern Florida and across the Deep South. Hendershot had a South Beach shop, Vanity Novelty Garden, where she sold their work.
The rugs and textiles — hundreds of pieces — were purchased on trips to less-trodden places in Southeast Asia such as West Timor and Laos and “little islands’’ off the coast of Cambodia. Now that she can’t travel as much, Hendershot buys online.
All the coverings are changed and washed weekly because the dogs, cats and chickens wander in and out of the house and perch on the furniture. Sometimes Hendershot finds an egg in the sofa cushions.