Fisher Family: Destroying Church Courtyard Shows "Lack of Respect for History and Culture"

Categories: Unreal Estate

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Miami Beach Community Church
One of the photos MBCC included in its application to transform the courtyard into a clothing store
Sometime this morning, the Miami Beach Historical Preservation Board will decide whether or not to grant a rehearing on the controversial plan to turn the Miami Beach Community Church courtyard into a clothing store. Church leaders claim the plan will save the struggling parish. Preservationists and some church members, meanwhile, say the plan will be a disaster.

One man who hasn't weighed in until now is Jerry Fisher, the last living relative of Carl Fisher, the man who founded the church and much of Miami Beach.

Destroying the courtyard would show "a lack of respect for history and culture," Fisher says. "Once it's been destroyed you can never go back. That's the problem."

See also: Miami Beach Community Church Controversy: Developer Donated $500,000 Before Key Vote

Jerry Fisher isn't just Carl's last living relative: he is also his famous forefather's biographer. In his book The Pacesetter, Jerry describes how Carl Fisher invented the automobile headlight, founded the Indianapolis 500 race, and created the first transcontinental highway.

Perhaps Carl Fisher's biggest legacy, however, was in creating Miami Beach out of a mangrove patch. In exchange for financing a bridge to the island, Fisher was given a huge chunk of land on Miami Beach. From that parcel he crafted Lincoln Road and much of South Beach.

Shortly after Christmas 1919, Carl Fisher's wife, Jane, convinced him to donate land on Lincoln Road and $50,000 to build the island's first church: the Miami Beach Congregational Church.

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Miami Beach Community Church
A photo of Rosie the elephant during one of Carl Fisher's marketing campaigns
"That courtyard... has so much history," Jerry Fisher says. "This is the last green, grassy spot on Lincoln Road. And this is one of the last ties in history to Carl and Jane Fisher. Carl gave that property with the strict stipulation that it would be used for a church and not a commercial development."

Destroying the courtyard to build a clothing store would be an insult to Carl Fisher's legacy, his relative says.

"It will be a tragedy if this becomes just another commercial enterprise," Jerry Fisher says. "Four or five years from now, if that doesn't work out, they'll put something else there like a Starbucks. Where does it end?

"South Florida's Cultural heritage will be gone," he says. "Its ties to the past would be completely gone. That would be a shame in my opinion."

Fisher points out that next year is the centennial of Miami Beach's founding.

"The last icon of the true history of Miami Beach should be preserved so that future generations know about the little white church, as it was known," he says. "To have construction cranes in there when this all happening next year just doesn't make sense to me."


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15 comments
swinghigh
swinghigh

The Non-Historic Preservation Board


Robert Young
Robert Young

voted to NOT REHEAR BY MIAMI BEACH "PRESEVATION" BOARD...no one was allowed to speak...

Rick Bear O'Connell
Rick Bear O'Connell

Greed rules.. Look around and see what has been done to a once paradise. Nothing new.. the rich wear a place out and move on. Remeber rejoicing in the big South beach revitalization ? Now the north end of NMB has been ruined as well. Sunny isles is run by a Nazi like police force. Where does it all go from here? Any sembelece of the old charm is long gone..

Jhon A Cornejo
Jhon A Cornejo

Ive been a Miami Beach resident for nearly 50 years. Ive seen Miami Beach aka "South Beach" go good and bad over the decades. Its sad that Miami Beach is quite notorious for destroying its history and the developers still continue to destroy the history of Miami Beach till this very day. All save one synagogue have been converted into night clubs, hotels or fashion boutiques. All the original movie theatres, Cameo, Lincoln, Roxy and other 4 movie theatres on Lincoln Rd and Washington Ave are gone...no longer showing Hollywood movies on the big screen. Gone is the famous Embers, Wolfies and Flame Steak. Gone are the grand hotels like The Floridian and The Roney Plaza Hotel. Its really sad how Miami Beach doesnt care about its history. Now, Lincoln Road is getting tore up. Look at the "new" Gap store on Lincoln Road...destroyed and altered the original building. :(

Amber Knight
Amber Knight

The city of Miami Beach only cares about money. It really is a shame.

Sean Peden
Sean Peden

These are the people who would develop the Everglades in a heartbeat...because Malls and condos reign supreme in SoFlo.

Luis Hernandez
Luis Hernandez

So it was completely ok for the Fisher family to pave over the island of miami beach but now it's not ok? Hypocrite much?

Tony Prieto
Tony Prieto

Miami does not care about history or culture. This is a place where we whore our buildings to the developer that promises to do the most damage.

Carlos Franco
Carlos Franco

There is a huge lack of preservation in miami. Anything that stands in the way of another condo or store must be torn down regardless of history. Thats is the narrow view point of people in miami

Lourdes Donikian
Lourdes Donikian

Why? is beautiful I look forward to see it every time I walk by there, it's so sad

Anthony Perez
Anthony Perez

Tony Prieto is outraged at this lack of care for Miami Beach history.

Gabriel Veg
Gabriel Veg

Leave the courtyard as it is. It's part of the original design.

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