The Student News Site of MAST Academy

The Beacon

The Student Newspaper of MAST Academy, since 1991.
The Student News Site of MAST Academy

The Beacon

The Beacon

Senior Issue 2024
June 5, 2024

The Pink Mansion Peeking From Behind the Shrubs

By Jorden Demerritte
Staff Writer

The backside of this Mediterranean Revival inspired mansion turned Catholic school for girls in 1900. The dramatic black and white overlay expose the columns, decals, and multiple stories, which are reminiscent of the Spanish Mediterranean style. El Jardin in Coconut Grove – Miami, Florida. (Photo courtesy of: Florida Memory)

Residing in the foreground of the lush greenery of Coconut Grove, Florida is the Carrollton School of the Sacred Heart. It is built with austere details reminiscent of the Mediterranean Revival period and is set back on the property with a winding, curved driveway that allows you to take in the symmetrical, salmon pink front. The salmon pink, textured, stucco wall wraps around the entire building and is complemented by the red terracotta style roof and ivory stone columns that have details that can solely be appreciated when up close. 

Most notable is the entrance of the building, which is introduced by a parallel line of 4 palm trees and a thick frieze, engraved with swirling shapes and Churrigueresque engravings, and supported by window frames with a pseudo-balcony on each. Underneath these windows are three arches, which make use of a twirling column, known as a Solomonic column, which is similar to the red stripe wrapping around a candy cane. The Solomonic column made its first appearances in Byzantine architecture, coming about in the 4th century with the uprising of Constantine the Great. 

The symmetry of the building adds to its grandness and aesthetically pleasing view. Seen from the backside, where a large pool lies, are two offshoots of the main court-side. The arches of the offshoots are framed by this ivory stone that is carved into with Mediterranean nuances. The backside lies on multiple tiers, where the pool is overlooked by a balcony framed with delicately carved balustrades in stone.

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The entrance of the school is balanced by weighty lanterns with ornate details and a heavy trimming with extravagant decals. The large teal-brushed, arched door looks through to a two-story covered courtyard and fountain, which is wrapped around by a covered walkway.   
El Jardin (Carrollton School of the Sacred Heart). (Photo courtesy of: The Future Architect from architectscloset.blogspot.com)

The building is shaped around a square courtyard that gives both a private and luxurious air. In this covered courtyard’s center is a fountain with delicate features of stone sculptures. From the second floor, one can look down onto the courtyard from the open-air window arches.

Throughout the building, native Florida limestone, like many other buildings in the Coconut Grove area, gives an added texture to the flat surfaces. This addition of texture and an introduction of a muted gray color breaks up the pink and white and gives a Floridian twist to the style that is attempted in the architecture of the building. 

The Carrollton School of the Sacred Heart, however, did not always start as an all-girls school for middle and high schoolers. 

Noting the building’s history is Paul S. George, who obtained a master’s in history from Florida State University and uses his knowledge to host expeditions, classes, and talks on the history of Miami. 

El Jardin, as the Carrollton School of the Sacred Heart was previously known, began as a holiday mansion for John Bindley, “a very wealthy person and one of the big industrialists of the Gilded Age in the early 20s.” John Bindley “wanted a home down here [in Miami] to get out of the Pittsburgh winters,” George said. The architect of this project in 1918, was Richard Kiehnel, who was a part of the architectural firm of Kiehnel and Elliot.

There are variations in stylistic inspirations throughout El Jardin, as there is a library “influenced by the late Medieval Italian style,” as well as, the incorporation of Moorish elements — the Moors is the name for the Islamic North African group that inhabited Spain “who invaded Spain in 711 A.D.” and “occupied the largest parts of Spain for hundreds of years,” George said. The fireplace, for example, is representative of the Spanish style, brought by the Moors, as well as, the gatehouse. 

Also notable is the reflection of a modern Mediterranean style, seen through the roofing, the multiple levels, and constant archways that are held up by stone columns. El Jardin was one of the earliest known Mediterranean Revival works in Miami with “Kiehnel and the designer of Viscaya” being “the first people to introduce this style to the Miami area,” George said. 

The Mediterranian Revival in South Florida had its influence in the 1920s, specifically gaining architectural interest from the countries along the border of the Mediterranean coast: Spain, France, Italy, and North Africa. Across South Florida, in the districts of Coral Gables, Miami Springs, Historic Bayside, Coconut Grove, and Miami Beach, we see how its influence has seeped into the construction of our cities. 

The prominent features of this niche period include the bell towers, archways, awnings, porched balconies, clay tile roofs, iron fixtures, and textured stucco walls, which are fleshed throughout in El Jardin.

What makes El Jardin feel situated within its environment is that “it’s got local building materials, such as the coral rock sometimes called limestone… and the fact that there’s a lot of windows, there’s a lot of openings, it’s on a ridge overlooking Biscayne Bay,” George said.

Carrollton School of the Sacred Heart became the school that it is today when the sisters bought the place in 1961. Prior, the sisters had been expelled from Cuba, “so they were forced to flee there and they came to Miami, like so many folks that fled Cuba… The bishop of Miami at the time was Coleman Francis Carroll, thus the name Carrollton School for his last name. And he helped them get back to their feet,” George said.

The Carrollton School of the Sacred Heart peeks from behind the lush greenery common in the Coconut Grove area and stands with a history of exploration and inspiration of other cultures. The melting pot that is South Florida, gives way to a vibrant blend and brightness of cultural nuances which make their way in the architecture that is Miami. Not only does the air sound different from the tongue of other languages drifting by. Not only does the food taste different, with the richness of souls soaking in. But the architecture is crafted and etched and shaped to reflect the influences of the past, as well as, the inspiration of tomorrow. 

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The Pink Mansion Peeking From Behind the Shrubs