PUBLISHED BY // JES comm, LLC
JOHN EDWARD SMITH COMMUNICATIONS © 2022-23
Published four times annually online at www.somimag.com
PUBLISHER // CREATIVE DIRECTOR // John Edward Smith
SENIOR ART DIRECTOR // Jose Roque – DesignWorks Miami, Inc. // WEB DESIGN // Six Foot 3
CONTRIBUTING WRITERS & ARTICLE RESOURCES // Brian Corey, Merecedes Cruz, Stephan Medina,
Tiffany Moore, Stewart Royer, Donna Shelley, Roberto Suarez, Jamal Wilson
For more information, please contact the publisher: JES comm, LLC • Postal Box 431597
Miami, FL 33243-1597 • VM 305.665.2838 Email: [email protected]
SPRING INTO SOMI
It’s Springtime, and the recently held 38th annual Rotary Art Festival on Sunset Drive brought new life into our town center. Drawing thousands of visitors to our hometown, the SOMI community appreciates the hard work and dedication of the South Miami Rotary Club in presenting this event.
And in line for CONGRATS are two local businesses who have championed causes to benefit the community: Sports Grill and Mack Cycle. Recently SPORTS GRILL hosted its annual Wings for Wishes event. Over the past nine years, $1.9m has been raised, granting 387 wishes for kids. MACK CYCLE & FITNESS has been in the forefront of the Dolphins Challenge Cancer event since its inception thirteen years ago, and fields a team to raise funds for the Sylvester Cancer Center.
The “Miami Hurricanes/Mack Cycle Team” numbered 268 and raised some $410,000 (I rode this year to celebrate
my 80TH birthday!).
In the 13 years the Mack Cycle team has raised $1.8m for Sylvester.
In this Spring edition, our lead story is the restoration of the historic Doc Thomas House located in our town center area. Read more about the house and the efforts to preserve the house and magnificent grounds for generations to come.
Breath is life. Starting with this edition we introduce a new Wellness feature. Learn more about breathing exercises that will improve your quality of life.
We continue our Community Feature and another visit with the team at ZOO Miami who are tirelessly working in animal conservancy. With that in mind, remember to eliminate harmful toxins so as not to kill the seagrass and help protect the life of our manatee population.
The Winn Dixie redevelopment project will be underway in the next few months. This will transform South Miami 73 Street and breathe new life into our town with apartment residential units and The Fresh Market grocer. Read more in our upcoming summer edition.
As the South Florida weather is still inviting, time to take a walk around our SOMI town center and visit our new businesses.
Spring into SOMI.
These are three of the mentions from our readers.
Please send along your favorites.
This was a first for me. Avocado, lime, feta cheese, cilantro, multigrain toast and served with signature fries. A glass of Sauvignon Blanc made it special.
Bill K., Morningside
CECILE BAKERY + CAFÉ
5744 Sunset Drive | 305.397.8206
Large grilled hot dog and bun, packed with chili, onions, relish. And throw in that side
onion rings and a great draft!
Armando O, Coral Gables
1559 Sunset Drive | 305.668.0396
The chicken was lightly battered and pan fried
in orange sauce with SIM fried rice
and veggie spring rolls.
Charlene S., South Miami
SIM SUSHI + TAPAS
5894 Sunset Drive | 305.392.1832
MY RETURN TO FOX’S
I was recently in town for a special event, and then had to make it real special with a visit to a favorite of mine – FOX’S Lounge. The last time I was there was about ten years ago.
It was good to see a familiar space – nice job with the new build-out. The martinis are still the best around! But what happened to the package store?
Ashley W., Franklin, NC
MAKING WISHES COME TRUE
Sports Grill hosted their ninth annual Wings for Wishes event on Saturday, March 4th. The place was packed.
A special treat was that the event organizers got to meet one of their WISH KIDS, Jonas who had a brain tumor. His wish to take his family on a week-long free vacation came through. To date, Sports Grill has raised $1,9m to the Make A Wish Foundation South Florida and has granted 387 wishes.
Thank you to those supporting this fun annual event.
Christine M., South Miami
Send your town center favorites photos and comments to the publisher at [email protected]. We’d love to hear from you.
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The Children’s Trust observes its Twentieth Anniversary
Miami’s Community Newspapers presented its breakfast event on January 17, 2023 at CasaCuba. A capacity crowd was on hand to hear from The Children’s Trust founder David Lawrence. Starting with South Miami Mayor Javier Fernandez, elected officials from the surrounding municipalities of Pinecrest, Cutler Bay and Palmetto Bay presented David Lawrence with congratulatory proclamations.
David Lawrence Jr. retired in 1999 as publisher of The Miami Herald to work in early childhood development and readiness. He chairs The Children’s Movement of Florida, aimed at making children the state’s top priority for investment. He has served on the Governor’s Children and Youth Cabinet and twice chaired the Florida Partnership for School Readiness.
In 2002 and 2008 he led successful campaigns for The Children’s Trust.
In 2002-3 he chaired the Governor’s Blue-Ribbon Panel on Child Protection, and in 2011 chaired a similar panel for the Department of Children and Families. In 2002, he was a key figure in passing a statewide constitutional
amendment to provide pre-K for all 4-year-olds. He is the founding chair of the Early Learning Coalition of Miami-Dade and Monroe. His memoir, “A Dedicated Life: Journalism, Justice and a Chance for Every Child,” was published in 2018.
The Children’s Trust is a dedicated source of revenue derived from property taxes, established by voter referendum in 2002. The mission is to partner with the community to plan, advocate for and fund strategic investments that improve the lives of all children and families in Miami-Dade County. The Trust envisions a community that works together to provide the essential foundations to enable every child to achieve their full potential.
For more information regarding The Children’s Trust, go to their website: www.thechildrenstrust.org.
Photos by All Star Event Photo.
Preserving the Past, Protecting the Future
Considered the crown jewel of storied Sunset Drive, the 91-year-old Doc Thomas House is at the center of a three-phase project focused on restoring and preserving the historic cottage that serves as Tropical Audubon Society (TAS) headquarters. The distinctive structure is a late example of Florida wood-frame vernacular architecture with Arts
& Crafts movement influences apparent in its ornamental woodwork and numerous built-in features.
It’s now going on a century since South Miami-area pharmacist Arden Hayes “Doc” Thomas hired Architect Robert Fitch Smith to design a house that would harmonize with its natural Pine Rockland setting. In restoring it, Smith’s original design and ethos — which included the use of native materials such as Tidewater Red Cypress, Dade County Pine, oak, mahogany, and oolitic and coralline limestone — are being honored.
Since being gifted to TAS by
Thomas upon his death in 1975, thousands of Miamians have visited the benefactor’s former home. The now-iconic landmark structure serves the community as a hub for South Florida environmental groups, a beacon of environmental advocacy and a charming, rustic repository of local history.
Although the Doc Thomas House is now a bona fide architectural treasure listed in the National Register of Historic Places, a state-designated Florida Heritage Site and a Dade County Historic Site, the
multiple effects of heat, humidity, hurricanes and daily use have taken a significant toll over the decades.
So, Miami-Dade County’s leading environmental conservation organization launched a $1.2M Capital Campaign to address the extensive needed repairs and restoration of the quaint,1932 cottage that sits just east of South Miami and south of Coral Gables in unincorporated High Pines.
Following a professional building condition assessment completed in the spring of 2019, TAS engaged R. J. Heisenbottle Architects, Douglas Wood Associates and Red Door Construction to get restoration of the 1,551-SF historic structure underway. Phase 1, encompassing critical repairs to the house’s sub-structure and putting on a new cedar shingle roof, has been completed.
Funding and completing Phase 2 will focus on
exterior and interior finishing work, while Phase 3 will concentrate on enhancing the Steinberg Nature Center, the 2.2-acre near-native grounds that are home to the Doc Thomas House.
Most of Phase 1 was accomplished with the financial support of private donors, The Villagers, Inc. and First National Bank of South Miami. “It’s a huge relief to have the essential, structural stabilization of the Doc Thomas House completed,” notes TAS Board member and Historian Dan Jones, “Yet there is much more to be done. We’ll need more private and public dollars to get us across the finish line,” he says.
An estimated $900,000 must be secured to meet the campaign goal and complete Phases 2 and 3.
“We launched our “Preserving our Past, Protecting our Future” Capital
Campaign to ensure our society’s historic house and wooded grounds will remain hubs for environmental activism and assets to the community for at least the next 90 years,” says TAS President José Francisco Barros. “It’s a big lift for our organization, but we’re counting on our philanthropic community to help us get it done.”
A literal green oasis surrounded by cheek-to-jowl retail and residential, the wooded grounds act as a magnet for those seeking sanctuary in Nature — a need felt all the more acutely during the pandemic lockdown. Visitors bird-watch, wander the trails that thread the Pine Rockland and Tropical Hardwood Hammock habitats, learn about gardening for birds and other pollinators, or bring a bite
to enjoy lunch in the shady picnic grove. For these reasons and more future Capital Campaign dollars will also support the implementation of a Master Plan to enhance the site’s natural beauty, upgrade or restore outdoor infrastructure and expand conservation education opportunities.
“Our Capital Campaign provides a unique opportunity to simultaneously support historic preservation, ensure environmental advocacy and sustain a “green island” in an urban setting,” Barros says. “Its benefits to wildlife and our community will be realized in perpetuity.”
PHASE 1 RECAP
In September 2020, Phase 1 was tackled in four stages over one year, working from the ground up:
Tropical Audubon Society’s Sunset Drive campus has been known as the Steinberg Nature Center since 2011, named in honor of the late environmentalist, birder, benefactor and board member Alan Steinberg. The Steinberg Nature Center trails are is comprised of Hardwood Hammock, rare Pine Rockland and pollinator habitats. The 2.2-acre Steinberg Nature Center grounds serve as a haven for wildlife and a mecca for humans seeking nature
1) House Foundation Repairs
2) House Structural Repairs
3) Porch Structural Repairs and Restoration
4) Roof Replacement
• Spalled concrete foundation piers were repaired and bolts connecting the piers to the floor frame were replaced where necessary.
• Damaged wood support beams and posts were replaced and/or reinforced beneath the house and around its perimeter.
• Any rotting cypress board-and-batten siding was replaced. Much of the “siding” is actually both the exterior and interior sidewalls of the house’s two wings. Therefore, the visible inner sides of the wood were then carefully stained to match the existing interior walls.
• The porch’s west side roof beams and sheathing were replaced as were any deteriorated support posts within the porch columns.
• The porch screening and screen door were removed to return the porch to its historically accurate appearance.
• Enhancements were made to the roof substructure and, finally, cedar roof shingles were installed. The new shingles closely resemble the original, wood-shingled roof.
• As the project progressed, metal strapping and brackets were attached between the different components of the house’s wood frame to provide additional structural support.
Doc Thomas House is now stabilized, “hardened,” and much better protected against the elements. In addition, the front porch rehabilitation/restoration and the roof replacement improved the house’s outward appearance and brought its front view closer to its original look.
To learn more about the Doc Thomas House and Tropical Audubon Society’s “Preserving our Past, Protecting our Future,” Capital Campaign go to https://tropicalaudubon.org.
Article by Hunter Renshaw
Photos provided by Tropical Audubon Society