In 2009, PBS-member station WPBT2 based in Miami collaborated with Vizcaya to produce an hour long documentary on the estate’s history. Vizcaya the documentary combined recently unearthed archival information with new interviews and footage of the estate, including spectacular aerial views from a helicopter.
Following its screening to South Florida audiences in 2009, Vizcaya was aired on about 160 PBS stations across the United States. The documentary’s popularity in markets outside of South Florida demonstrates the great allure of Vizcaya, its context and the optimistic visionaries behind its creation and survival. Broadly speaking, Vizcaya captures the story of America, subtropical Florida and Miami.
The documentary tells the dramatic story of Vizcaya’s creation by James Deering and the young design team he assembled. It was produced and written by Linda Corley and narrated by actor Andy Garcia. The film focuses on the immense challenge of constructing an Italianate villa—with very extensive gardens and grounds—on an uncultivated edge of Biscayne Bay. The task of moving labor and materials to Vizcaya was increased in large measure by Miami’s relative remoteness and the outbreak of World War I in the middle of construction.
The film also shares some of the heroic efforts to preserve Vizcaya following James Deering’s death in 1925 and the powerful hurricanes that ravaged the site again and again. Particular attention is paid to the mid-century campaign of James Deering’s nieces to establish Vizcaya as a public museum, at which they eventually succeeded in 1953.
Visit WPBT2’s website for more information about this film project or to view the full documentary online. Vizcaya is also available as a DVD with extra features, including curricular materials for students at Vizcaya’s Café & Shop and our online shop.
Vizcaya was generously supported by: Norman and Barbara Tomlinson, R. Kirk Landon, Cathy Jones, John and Linda Squitero, David A. Klein Foundation and The Villagers.