Home > Floripedia > Coral Gables
Site Map

Coral Gables

Suniland Magazine


Cream Stucco. Scarlet hibiscus. Black iron grilles. High above, the whispering fronds of a coconut palms. A great red jar in the corner. A table set for luncheon on the cool, tiled floor. Brilliant splotch of sun on the wall. Your Spanish garden? Why not? . . . You can have a home in Coral Gables in the picturesque manner of old Seville, decorated in perfect taste, with garden that takes you back to the days of Spanish domain. It will cost you no more than an ordinary home on a dingy city street-and its value must increase as the city plan matures, and as the new developments approach completion.

Coral Gables is being built according to a plan designed by famous architects, not by politicians. Every home, club, hotel or business building must conform in architecture and planting to this plan that carries on the Spanish traditions of this old Spanish colony. While the city plan progresses, while the University of Miami is building, while the private schools and country clubs are breaking ground for their new buildings property values advance. And so many substantial projects are under way that such an advance should reasonably continue for many years.

Will You Share in This Prosperity?

Home-builders from every state in the Union are erecting hundreds of houses that stabilize present values, and form a solid base for even greater affluence. You may buy but a single plot, or you may build an estate adjoining the new Miami-Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables. But you cannot escape your share in the general prosperity that must attend the steady growth of Miami and its environs. Thousands of people have attained financial independence. It is your turn now. For the tide of prosperity has only begun to rise.

The Coupon Brings You Rex Beach's Story-Free

Rex Beach has written a book about the miracle of Coral Gables. Send for it. Better still, come and see for yourself. Let us tell you about the special trains and steamships that we run at frequent intervals to Coral Gables. If you should take one of these trips, and buy property at Coral Gables, the cost of your transportation will be refunded upon your return. Sign and mail the coupon-Now!

Your Opportunity

Coral Gables property has been steadily rising in value. Some of it has shown a 100 percent increase every year. Roger Babson says that Florida offers the greatest opportunity for money-making of all the states. Yet building plots in Coral Gables may now be secured by a moderate initial payment. These plots are offered in a wide range of prices, which include all improvements such as streets, electricity and water. Twenty-five per cent is required in cash; the balance will be distributed in convenient payments over a period of three years.

The Facts About Coral Gables

Coral Gables is a city, adjoining the city of Miami itself. It is incorporated, with a commission form of government. It is highly restricted. It occupies about 10,000 acres of high, well-drained land. It is four years old. It has 100 miles of wide paved streets and boulevards. It has seven hotels completed or under construction. It has 45 miles of white-way lighting and 50 miles of intersectional street lighting. It has 6.5 miles of beach frontage. Two golf courses are now completed, two more are building. Two country clubs are now in actual use. More than one thousand homes have already been erected, another thousand now under construction. Thirty million dollars have been spent in development work-future plans call for twice that amount. Seventy-five million dollars worth of property has already been bought.

The $15,000,000 University of Miami, the $500,000 Mahi Temple of the Mystic Shrine, a $1,000,000 University High School, a $150,000 Railway Station, a Military Academy, a Theatre, the College for Young Women of the Sisters of Saint Joseph, a Conservatory of Music, and other remarkable projects.

Mr. John McEntee Bowman is now building the ten-million-dollar hotel, country club and bathing casino in Coral Gables to be known as the Miami Biltmore Group. The Miami-Biltmore Hotel will be ready about January 1, 1926. Coral Gables will also contain these buildings, all of which will be completed within a few years: keen business sense which made him reach out and capitalize the ocean, the one thing with which he was thoroughly familiar, Gus would probably still be a life guard at Coney Island. He held this position at that famous resort for several years after arriving in this country from Denmark.

Gus knew the ocean in its every mood; he came from a race of Vikings; he was a fearless and untiring swimmer of more than a hundred strokes. He had the foresight to see that if he could impart some of this knowledge and love to others, he would succeed despite the lack of capital.

"It is in my blood," he says of the sea. "My ancestors for ages back followed sailors' lives. They originally came from Singapore. When I was a young man in Denmark, I was in the army but I was restless. I had to get out and go. I had thought of going to India, but I ended by coming to America."

In 1901, equipped with the aforementioned $72 and knowledge of swimming, he landed in the United States and in a short time had become a lifeguard at Coney Island. In 1905 he made his first trip to Palm Beach, where he was one of the life guards at the Breakers hotel beach for the season, returning to Coney Island for the summer.

It was not long before Gus' keen brain began to realize that many members of the winter colony remained later than the brief hotel season and that they needed a bathing beach, to say nothing of the people across the lake in what was then the small town of West Palm Beach. Accordingly within a year or two he had begun the experiment of opening a few bathhouses near the Breakers beach for several weeks following the close of the hotel season.

Not until 1910 did Gus sever his connections in the North and start a year around beach located on the site of his present casino about a mile south of the hotel. By this time, West Palm Beach was showing signs of growth such as to justify the need of continuous bathing beach facilities for the inhabitants.

In 1914 Gus had accumulated enough money to build a frame casino with swimming pool, dressing rooms and a dance hall. It was far from a pretentious building, but the sign, "Welcome to Our Ocean," hung jauntily and West Palm Beach adopted the place as its own. In 1917 a second pool was installed and in 1922, a boardwalk overtopped with Hawaiian-like palmetto shelters was built for the benefit of checker players and picnic parties. Again Gus was acting as host and inviting his guests to linger.

Gus' Baths continued in popularity, but as time went by and the ocean frontage began to be built up more and more with handsome villas, it was noted that the shabby frame casino was not in keeping with the beautiful nearby building. No one was more aware of the fact than Gus himself. He had saved some money and he had friends among the wealthy winter residents of Palm Beach. Also, he had faith in the money making power of the casino.

Through sheer determination and the assistance of some of his rich friends in 1923 Gus was enabled to see the consummation of his most cherished dream, the erection of the magnificent building for Gus' Bath, which now graces the ocean front. More than 200 feet long the two-story stucco building presents an imposing Spanish front, purposely designed in an unsymmetrical fashion to stimulate the mediaeval structures under construction for several centuries.

The upper floor of the building is devoted to apartments which prove popular with tourists in the winter and with West Palm Beach men in the summer, whose families are out of the city and who wish to be on the ocean. Shops, a restaurant, a dance hall and the offices of the casino company the lower floor, with the swimming pools and dressing rooms in the rear.

Not content with the building of the casino in 1923, Gus in that year also undertook the construction of an additional pool for the benefit of the Palm Beach Swimming Club, one of the most exclusive organizations in Palm Beach, which numbers among its membership most of the millionaires of the winter colony. Gus and his swimming instructor, David Gardella, are both officers in this organization.

In lieu of the ordinary cubbyhole type of dressing rooms, the members of this club had their bathhouses surrounding the pool designed as attractive Spanish bungalows tinted in pastel shades.

It was this aristocratic pool which in the summer of 1924 formed the temporary home for "Miss Heliotrope," later christened "Miss Palm Beach," the 700 pound sea turtle, captured in August on the beach near the casino and used by Gus with canny foresight as an indirect advertisement.

Discovered while laying eggs on the beach, "Miss Heliotrope" was captured before she could return to the ocean by a force of ten men and transported to the casino, there to be lodged in the pool of the swimming club, which was not in use during the summer months. It was there that under the management of Gus and at his instigation a thrilling and dangerous turtle "round up" was staged, in which the captain and two other hardy swimmers managed to mount and ride "Miss Heliotrope."

However, with the approach of fall, it was necessary to seek another home for the turtle. Accordingly on Labor Day 1934, she was appropriately rechristened Miss Palm Beach, emblazoned on the back with the insignia of the swimming club, led to the ocean's edge and allowed to return to her native home.

Miss Palm Beach's release had originally been planned to coincide with the opening of Gus' new 920-foot Rainbow Pier, which constituted his special project undertaken in 1924 and financed in the same way as his casino. However, the pier was not completed until November and was formally opened on Armistice Day upon the occasion of the visit of a delegation of governors from all over the United States. The first message to go forth from the huge radio station at the end of the pier was to President Calvin Coolidge.

The end of the Rainbo pier is a favorite resort for fishermen, for one of Gus' main objects in its erection was to provide a place for the man of average means who cannot afford the expense of deep sea fishing from a yacht or sea skiff. Extending as it does to such a great length into the sea, the very finest specimens from the deep may be caught there by skilled fishermen.

On the pier there is located the clubhouse of the Palm Beach Anglers Club, which serves as a repository for the trophies of the club, including the silver cup offered by President Coolidge after receiving the greeting from the pier.

There also are found the clubrooms of the Cow Boys of the Sea, an organization founded by Gus and confined to persons who have saved or assisted in saving someone from drowning. The organization of this famous club is most at in or one of the principal features being the absence of dues. Officers are elected by "rolling the bones," a huge Pair of dice kept for the purpose.

The Cow Boys are pledged to be always ready for service in time of stress and in unusually stormy weather they patrol the coast. During a recent stormy day Gus noticed a yacht going past the Casino headed for the inlet which is dangerous at such times. With another "cowboy" he hastened to the scene to be on hand in case of danger. With them they carried a Supply of sug-ooters, a type of life preserver invented by Gus, which is not bulky to carry and is inflated in a few seconds. These he had patented in the United States and in 37 European countries and at present is manufacturing them in Palm Beach. His plant constitutes the only factory in the community.

One of the latest stunts of the Cow Boys of the Sea was the capture on April 13, 1925, of two huge whales who swam in too close to the end of Rainbo Pier. These two monsters, the male weighing 25 tons and the female about 10, were captured by members of the club several miles up the coast after hours of struggle. It was not long before the female was reclining on the beach in front of Gus' Baths, the mecca of hundreds of sight-seers from miles around. When it became necessary to dispose of the mammal, Gus had her skinned and helped to tow the carcass three miles out to sea. He returned with three tremendous sharks which were in turn used to attract crowds to the casino.

Gus could hardly explain to you just why he has been able to rise in 20 years from an immigrant youth, a lifeguard, to one of the leading businessmen of his community although with his delightful Scandinavian accent he is a facile speaker. He will just tell you that he had tried to give the public what it wants and needs. It is hardly possible that he himself has analyzed the way in which he has capitalized his inherent Viking love and knowledge of the ocean by applying to his inheritance a shrewd American business sense and knowledge of the value of publicity.

It is this ability to adapt himself to the business conditions of his adopted country which has contributed largely to his success. Except for retaining his Scandinavian love of the water, Gus has concentrated his efforts upon becoming an American. He is a naturalized citizen, as is his wife who came over from Denmark more than 10 years ago to marry him.

Gus does not confine his interests to his own business. He is intensely interested in the up building of the entire community and has served both as alderman in Palm Beach and commissioner of Palm Beach County. His ability as an advertiser has received recognition from his election to the presidency of the County Ad Club. At all times of public celebration is among the first to offer the hospitality of his casino for the occasion and no festival is complete without aquatic sports at Gus' Baths. The West Palm Beach high school students train for swimming meets in his pool, without charge; the boy and girl scouts pass their swimming tests there and David Gardella gives generously of his time, without remuneration, to train them.

But Gus is not satisfied with just playing host to the ocean to the people at hand. He is interested in making the scope of his activities international and at the same time advertise and help Palm Beach. It is with this in mind that he is now dreaming dreams of obtaining a boat from the United States Shipping Board making it over into a pleasure boat for tourists direct from Palm Beach to Europe. He is certain that with a ship upon which to practice he could perfect a system of loading boats with produce from the Everglades by cables from the end of his pier. Such a system he feels would be a tremendous boom to growers here while the completion of the inlet to allow the passage of larger boats is pending.

What if it does sound impractical? Would not the erection of a 200-foot casino and 920 foot pier have sounded so to the immigrant youth with $72 in his pocket?

"Will you find the way to your Spanish Garden?"
Suniland, Nov. 1925, Vol. 3, No. 2. Pgs. 81-82; 229; 238


Home > Floripedia > Coral Gables

Exploring Florida: A Social Studies Resource for Students and Teachers
Produced by the Florida Center for Instructional Technology,
College of Education, University of South Florida © 2005.