The forces set into motion by Coral Gables founder George Merrick and his uncle, artist Denman Fink, when they collaborated a century ago, resonate in daily life today.
When setting out in the early 1900s to create a planned suburb, Merrick looked to the Old World to visualize a village “along purely Spanish lines, of the old type… with purely coral rock construction,” Fink later recounted.
According to historian Arva Moore Parks, “Fink turned George’s vision into beautiful drawings that included romantic entrances and plazas reminiscent of ancient Spain.” To bring these renderings to life, Merrick later hired his young architect cousin George Fink and renowned landscape architect Frank Button. Their collective legacy endures in the city’s iconic buildings, broad boulevards, gabled entries, signature cornerstones and lush landscapes.
Merrick’s original visionary esthetic — inspired by the architecture of Cordova, Salamanca, Seville and Toledo — will be the subject of celebration on Sunday, Mar. 9, 1-4 p.m., at the historic Merrick House Museum and Gardens, 907 Coral Way.
With a focus on the arts, architecture, culture and cuisine, the city-sponsored Merrick Arts Festival, the sixth of seven “Sundays on the Porch with George” community events, “will be a colorful, delicious, creative afternoon,” said festival chair Susan Rodriguez.
Spanish wine tastings courtesy of Marques de Riscal, Martin Codax and Las Rocas will whet appetites for Papas Tapas in collaboration with Mr. Goodstuff food truck. Boy Scout Troop 7, founded by George Merrick, will raise the flag, while Coral Gables Vice Mayor Bill Kerdyk opens the festivities.
The free “Sundays on the Porch” series was designed to showcase the Merrick House while illuminating early Coral Gables life. The classic residence, now a museum, was the Merrick family home and the seat of the Coral Gables Plantation established by patriarch Solomon Merrick. His sons, George and Richard, inspired by their artist-mother, Althea, would both embrace and elevate the arts in the new city they would so eloquently shape, albeit along different paths.
To honor their lasting contributions, Willy Bermello, distinguished architect and founding president of Coral Gables Community Foundation, will lend insights into the Merricks’ accomplishments for festival attendees.
Tom Smith, a contemporary South Florida photographer, will exhibit local images alongside select photographs from Spain. Little Gables Group will lead a digital photography workshop and photo safari. Miami Photo will host a Photo Booth complete with period props.
University of Miami photography student ambassadors will assist with photo opps. UM Frost School students will set the afternoon to music with period Spanish flair. Photography students from Ransom Everglades, South Miami Middle and South Miami Senior will showcase their images in a clothesline exhibit strung along the charming covered porch. Landscape artist Erik Speyer will demonstrate painting en plein air.
The Coral Gables Museum and Spanish Consulate will lend historic reference points and cultural authenticity, and docents will conduct house tours for a nominal fee. To cap the muy delicioso afternoon, attendees can order a scoop of luscious Azucar homemade Cuban ice cream.