“They all have names and they all visit,’’ Hendershot said of the hens. “The eggs are delicious.’’
It might be called shabby chic if it wasn’t all neat as a pin. The paint on the windows — originals, found in the attic — may be peeling, but it’s a deliberate choice, Hendershot said. Now she and a housekeeper — whose mailman husband studied furniture design and built a rustic cabinet for Hendershot — are scraping and painting door and window frames because buyers expect it.
“Everything can look shabby as far as I’m concerned. But no termites,’’ she said. “I don’t like termites.’’
Magic City Farm is no secret to those in the know. Bruce Weber shot Morgan Freeman and supermodel Lara Stone here for Vogue. A moody-looking Lenny Kravitz was photographed in Hendershot’s kitchen for Interview. Most recently, a German catalogue company used the cottages and gardens as sun-splashed backdrops for its fashions.
Friends and acquaintances are sorry to hear that Hendershot intends to move on.
“That piece of property is a gem,’’ said Coconut Grove lawyer Tucker Gibbs, who once received payment from Hendershot in the form of several Purvis Young pieces after helping her with a zoning matter. “When you go onto her property, you are stepping back in time. It is absolutely off the beaten path.
“It is Tamara. It is so her personality. She sees the beauty in these places. She is one of those people who make Miami an interesting place to live.’’
Like Magic City Farm, Hendershot says, much of her life has been an accretion of happy accidents. “Things happen, and then there you are,’’ she said.
Trained as a marine biologist, Hendershot worked on research vessels in the Pacific, based in Hawaii, before quitting to travel. She bounced back to her native New York in the early days of SoHo’s revival. There she became friendly with film director Jonathan Demme, who infected her with his enthusiasm for Haitian and naif art.
Hendershot wound up in South Beach on an impulse after driving down with a friend in the mid-1980s, quitting her job at a New York photo agency to buy a bungalow south of Fifth Street that she decorated with seashells and painted Caribbean colors.
She began traveling around the South to visit self-taught outsider artists, some of whom gained recognition through her work.
“I got interested in the primitive, but the quirky primitive. I wasn’t doing the hoity-toity. I was doing the reasonable,’’ she recalled.
As a neighborhood activist, she also helped wage a campaign against high-rise development, but left for the Miami mainland in search of an authentic neighborhood when it became clear that cause was lost.
“It was hard to leave the Beach. But it got too gentrified. So I just went looking,’’ she said.
She wound up in Edgewater for a spell, where she bought and renovated another old house; her all-time favorite fix-up, it was published in the Taschen book Miami Interiors.
Then one day Hendershot happened across the farm, which she said had been owned for decades by a Jamaican man. He had planted it with a grove of fruit trees from his native island, including jackfruit, ackee and papaya.