CREATING TOMORROW’S HISTORY TODAY
The Garden Club’s most ambitious undertaking by far is the “Adopt An Entrance” Project. With a mission statement of “Creating Tomorrow’s History Today’, work began in 1990 to fulfill the design dreams of George Merrick. He had envisioned building architecturally beautiful grand entrances at the seven major points of entry into the City, but because of the Great Depression of the 1920s, several of these entrances had not been completed. A plan was developed to complete his dream. With a mission statement of “Creating Tomorrow’s History Today”, work began in 1990.
The first entrance at Coral Way and Red Road was completed and dedicated in April of 1991. In the style of existing street markers found in various locations throughout the City, and incorporating the beautiful trademark Gables shallow fountains, this entrance fronts large areas of green space as you drive down one of Coral Gables most emblematic streets: the oak-shaded and picturesque Coral Way.
MIRACLE MILE & DOUGLAS ROAD
Immediately after, work began on the major entrance at Miracle Mile and Douglas Road (pictured below). This Mediterranean-architecture-inspired entrance encompassing the archways and fountains favored by George Merrick, was finished and dedicated in April of 1997.
Noting that there was not a monument to the George Merrick, the City’s founder, the Garden Club envisioned the idea of providing the City with a commemorative statue of George Merrick. In May of 2006, a 12 foot high bronze statue was placed in front of City Hall, to become a “trademark” of our city. A maquette from the statue is now presented yearly by the Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce as the Award of Excellence to a person judged most deserving.
SW 8th STREET & PONCE DE LEON BOULEVARD
In October of 2009, the SW 8th Street and Ponce De Leon Boulevard Entrance was completed and dedicated. This entrance with gateways flanking the double-wide Ponce de Leon Boulevard boasts a Clock Tower in the center median, with a clock that chimes every hour, and which has inscribed on its face “Coral Gables Garden Club”. The Garden Club paid for the entrance with private donations. The architectural firm of Revuelta, Vega, Leon worked pro bono, and the construction company completed the project for a fraction of the cost.
The City, in recognition of the Garden Club’s contribution of the three entrances and the George Merrick statue, presented the Club with a Proclamation declaring January 13th “Coral Gables Garden Club Day”!
ALTHEA FINK MERRICK MONUMENT
The latest undertaking of the Garden Club is the commissioning of the full sized bronze statue of Althea F. Merrick, matriarch of the Merrick family, seated on a bench in the garden at the Merrick House. This year, 2010, marks the 100th Anniversary of the completion of the Merrick House, the original homestead of the Solomon and Althea Merrick, parents of George Merrick. The home was designed by Althea and the completion was in time for the wedding of their eldest daughter, Ethel.
Althea went on to be one of the earliest members of the Coral Gables Garden Club which was founded by her daughter-in-law, Eunice Peacock Merrick, George’s wife. The dedication of the Althea Merrick monument on October 27, 2010 is a lasting remembrance of a lovely lady so important to the early history of Coral Gables.