Recognizing the importance of Vizcaya
The July 1917 edition of Architectural Review was published the summer after James Deering moved into Vizcaya. In dedicating an entire edition to the Estate, the editors showed the importance of Vizcaya from its very beginnings. This international magazine, devoted to printing important work about the built environment, has been in continuous publication since 1896.
An historical record
This edition of Architectural Review is important to us for several reasons. First, it completes the historic record about who worked to create and build Vizcaya. There are contractor records in our archives, but we know they are incomplete. Many companies placed an advertisement in the publication, and so the advertising index gives us a fuller picture of who actually built the Main House, the Gardens, and the Village. It is a valuable list that can be a starting point for researchers. There are even specific details in the ads; Fred T. Ley and Company’s ad on page li includes a footnote that gives the exact date when responsibility for the general contracting work transferred to them from the George Sykes Company.
The photography of Mattie Edwards Hewitt
The magazine also clearly lists Mattie Edwards Hewitt as the photographer; her byline is on page 121. We know that she visited and photographed the Estate, but there are some images in Vizcaya’s archives that we are not certain can be credited to her. It is very illuminating to know that all the images in the magazine were hers.
Taking a peek into another time
Another thing we learn from the magazine is where furniture and other objects may have been placed in 1917. Though the photographs may have been staged, they help us determine which objects were in the home at that time. A notable item is the Admiral Carpet, which is shown on page 149 on the Living Room floor. Today it is displayed on a custom-built mount in the Living Room where it can be appreciated but not walked on!
The magazine also shows things that no longer exist. The open Courtyard, shown on page X is a view from the past, since the skylight was installed in the mid-1980s (and replaced by the current skylight in 201X). The Boathouse sustained significant damage in the 1926 hurricane, and its remains were raised in the late 1940s. Views of the detailed roof and the interior rooms can be seen on pages 166 and 167.
Old publications are also interesting to read, since they provide a peek into another time. The writing style of the magazine, the layout and font choices, and the overall appearance give us a look into the past and how ideas and images were presented to audiences of that time.
This resource has been made available in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities: Democracy demands wisdom.
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