Local historic preservationists celebrate ‘Tea @ the Biltmore’

Local historic preservationists celebrate ‘Tea @ the Biltmore’

Local historic preservationists celebrate ‘Tea @ the Biltmore’
Pictured are Ellen Uguccioni and Karelia Martinez Carbonell at the Historic Preservation Association of Coral Gables Tea.

Beginning the new year, board members and friends of the Historic Preservation Association of Coral Gables (HPACG) enjoyed afternoon tea on Jan. 6 in The Biltmore Hotel’s grand lobby.

This first event of 2014, “Tea @ the Biltmore,” also included a tour of The Biltmore, a legendary landmark and historical gem. Still adorned for the holidays, Christmas trees at the hotel twinkled in celebration of “Three Kings Day” offering a beautiful setting for the affair with the sights and sounds of the season.

As birds were chirping and a harpist was playing, guests enjoyed sipping tea and a guided tour led by Judy Pruitt, Dade Heritage Trust volunteer guide. Pruitt gave the group an overview of the hotel’s history and a peek into the infamous “Al Capone Suite.” Founding HPACG board member, Ellen Uguccioni, also gave a brief presentation from her book, The Biltmore Hotel, available for purchase in the hotel’s gift shop.

It was Jan. 14, 1926, that The Biltmore Hotel debuted. Two years earlier at the height of the land boom in Florida, young land developer George Merrick joined forces with Biltmore Hotel magnate John McEntee Bowman to build “a great hotel.”

Bowman contracted with renowned architect Leonard Schultze and S. Fullerton Weaver, a contractor and developer. That team already had gained acclaim having designed the Atlanta and Los Angeles Biltmores, New York City’s Grand Central Terminal, and the famed Miami Daily News Building (now known as the Freedom Tower).

For Karelia Martinez Carbonell, HPACG president, this is the first of many such events as the organization looks forward to enjoying more of the city’s historical landmarks.

Carbonell notes, “In 2014, HPACG will continue to advance the importance of historic preservation in Coral Gables and showcase the city’s many historical landmarks.”

The Historic Preservation Association of Coral Gables is a 501(c)3 non-profit founded in 1991. The mission of the Association is to support an environment in which its members and all community citizens can understand, appreciate, exchange information and live with Coral Gables history. The Association promotes the understanding of the importance of historic resources and their preservation.

For additional information visit historiccoralgables.org.

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