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Saturday, May 9, 2015


         Friends came to town last Saturday for our high school reunion.  Some stopped by our place for a  neighborhood tour.  They got to see what we love about Coconut Grove.
             Eight of us gathered at our 1930's cottage.  Our group included three artists, a movie producer,  university president,  museum director, and the former commander of a nuclear submarine.

   Our first stop was 50 yards east, the former cottage of singer/songwriter Fred Neil. He wrote "Everybody's Talkin', the theme from "Midnight Cowboy".  



A very Grove-y guy lives next to Fred's place.  He decorates his yard with magnificent golden dinosaurs.



Two minutes later we were in front of "El Jardin", a 20-acre mansion on Biscayne Bay. It is now a Catholic school decorated with young girls wearing identical plaid skirts and knee socks.  
   One morning I caught one trying to steal a dinosaur.
 Our haunted house is on the south of  El Jardin.  Hidden by trees and bushes, few know about this rotting gem festooned with strips of wind-ripped tarps.


 On the other side of the girl's school is the site this historic church named after former Grove resident, William Jennings Bryan. He was famous politician 100 years ago. His great-grandson, Graham Bryan, is a buddy of mine. The building was transformed into a synagogue, "Chabad in the Grove", eight years ago.

    Cati-corner is the church that I attend, Plymouth Congregational. The mission-style sanctuary was built in 1917. I showed my friends the wooden plug by the front entrance. It was once "the cat hole", allowing felines access for rat control.  It was covered long ago when  air-conditioning was installed and the cat population increased.


   A dozen cats (and several peacocks) now patrol the 9-acre property which includes "Admiral's Row".

These are the three old houses across from the sanctuary.  They were left to the church by the admirals who once lived there. Interestingly, a retired rear admiral was a member of our tour group.

      Morning light, Edsen Chapel, Plymouth Congregational Church. Glass design by Grove artist Sebastian Duncan Portuando.

   The church property also includes a former windmill, a sunken garden,

and the Grove's historic  one-room school house.

    Our tour's final stop was the former home of Dr. John C. Lilly. He was a well-known neuroscientist who spent his life exploring human consciousness.  

He used psychedelic drugs, isolation tanks (his invention)  dolphins, and Coconut Grove to do this.  His buddies included Tim Leary and Alan Ginsberg.  Some neighbors still remember his efforts to communicate with the dolphin living in his backyard pool.   
    Despite his wild life, Doctor John made it to the age of 86, dying in 2001.  Sometimes we see his daughter puttering around the house. 

    As we turned away from its glowing ocher tones someone said, "Your neighborhood is so lovely. You're fortunate to live here".  
   I guess I am.  It was nice to be able to share it with friends last week.


Postscript:  I don't like to make these articles too long.  Here are a few houses that didn't make the cut,

Debby's dwelling, where Palmetto meets Hibiscus.

 Karen and Eliott's swinging pad "Casa Mamey", painted to match the fruit.

   The house where former attorney general Janet Reno lived when she was quite young.  She once told me how she enjoyed riding her tricycle Avocado Street.
All the houses you see here are unique and more than 8o years old.   Our cottage was built in the 1930's.

The Grove has newer houses too but most are big, boring boxes
like the McMansion just east of us.  It's like living next to a 25-foot wall. 
My tour ignores them.  

I choose to celebrate the charming, colorful and creative, like the home of our neighbor, Bobby Ingram.

Now that's Coconut Grove!

                          A poinciana tree explodes across from Plymouth Church


  1. Awesome sceneries! Anybody must be fond of this place. Thanks for total arrangement! May i take a wine tour in this place?