About to embark on your next home project? Take a stroll first through these historic South Florida mansions for heady ideas.
Vizcaya Museum and Gardens
It’s hard to say what’s prettier, the Tuscan-inspired Vizcaya Museum and Gardens built by James Deering or the view of Biscayne Bay spread out before it. Inside you’ll find a manse meant to mimic the grand homes of Europe, as dreamed up by art curator Paul Chalfin. vizcaya.org.
South of Vizcaya, Deering’s brother Charles Deering lived on a property that houses a wooden home built in 1900, a three-story stone mansion, and a preserve spread out over 444 acres of native Florida. Now it’s the Deering Estate, which, with its picturesque waterfront, might be the most Instagrammed county park around. deeringestate.org.
As Henry Flagler laid rail lines along Florida’s coastline, he also built himself a palace on Palm Beach. Completed in 1902, Whitehall stands as a gleaming example of the Gilded Age, with 75 rooms across 12,000 square feet. For train buffs, there’s Flagler’s private railcar, No. 91, circa 1886. flaglermuseum.us.
Bonnet House Museum and Gardens
Among these historic homes, none is more quirky and arty than the Bonnet House Museum and Gardens, built by Chicago-born painter Frederic Clay Bartlett in 1920. There’s the drawing room with its mahogany driftwood ceiling, the two-story art studio covered in paintings, and occasional monkey sightings on the stunning, 35-acre beachfront property in Fort Lauderdale. bonnethouse.org.