The Legacy and Impact of the Mothers of Deering Estate

Valeria Mejia

Every year on Mother’s Day we celebrate the influence motherhood has on each of our lives. The Deering Estate’s Mothers have left a long lasting impact on the history of the Estate, including Mrs. Marion Deering herself. The Deering ladies hosted luncheons every Sunday, entertaining many guests like John Kunkel Small, a prominent American botanist. By 1915, the Richmond Cottage Inn was the only hotel between Miami and Key West. Charles Deering purchased the Richmond Cottage from Mrs. Edith Richmond proprietress of the Inn. She was the head of the hotel and welcomed anyone who came through her doors. Mr. and Mrs. Deering then added other buildings to expand their new Estate, including the Carriage and Pump House. When Mr. Deering passed away in 1927, Mrs. Deering and her daughters, Barbara Danielson and Marion McCormick, continued to care for the Estate. The Deering’s have continuously supported art and culture in and around the Estate frequently donating to and supporting museums and educational institutions. Mrs. Deering was recognized for being a figure of compassion and cared for her many guests. According to Rose Connett Richards, the author of “Life in Cutler with Mrs. Deering as a Neighbor,” Mrs. Deering was an example of a woman gifted with generations of wealth, but still held empathy, and remained extremely interested in the world around her. Mrs. Deering was an elegant and gracious lady, always kind to the community around her.

In 1941, Barbara Deering Danielson, daughter of Charles and Marion Deering, became the new steward of the Estate. Mrs. Danielson was a patron of the arts, a philanthropist, an avid foxhunter, and a breeder of wire-haired dachshunds. Barbara also took an active role in conservation of the natural landscape by working with JK Small in identifying and labeling plants on the grounds. Mrs. Danielson eventually passed away in 1985, but the Estate was still in good hands. The Estate was soon purchased by the State of Florida in 1986 and since then its legacy has been preserved by a collaboration between Miami Dade County and the State of Florida. What all these women have in common is a love for the Deering Estate, each dedicating time to keep the history of the Estate alive.

Mother’s Day (May 10) at Deering Estate gave guests a beautiful getaway to spend the day with their families. While the Historic House Museum remained closed, the Estate encouraged people to take hikes and walk around, enjoying the view while following social distancing guidelines. “It was a liquid sunshine Mother’s Day at Deering Estate but that didn’t stop our guests from going on a rainy self-guided hike!” said a member of the Deering Estate staff.  People had fun taking in time with the beautiful area around them, even spotting some animals along the way. “I enjoyed the afternoon with my son and Mother Nature. We even saw dolphins and sharks come into the boat basin!” said Damaris Casanova, a guest at the Estate.

This May is also “Gifts from the Garden” month. You can give your special someone a memorable gift: wild coffee from the Deering Estate Nursery while supplies last. They are shade-tolerant, medium-sized shrub (Height: 4 to 10 feet) and grow small white flowers and red fruits. It can attract pollinators and birds to keep any yard beautiful for years to come!

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