The Intriguing History of Villa Woodbine

history-of-villa-woodbineVilla Woodbine was designed by architect Walter De Garmo, renowned for his Mediterranean-Renaissance style. His interesting, open air designs of central courtyards and large loggias with Spanish arches particularly adapted to the Miami climate with its warm tropical breezes. De Garmo designed many of Miami’s early hotels and homes, yet sadly only a few remain today. He also assisted in the design of Miami’s showcase Museum, Villa Vizcaya, originally the home of James Deering.

Villa Woodbine was built for Mr. and Mrs. Charles Boyd of Appleton, Wisconsin as their winter residence. As owner of the Appleton Paper Company, Mr. Boyd perfected the process to commercially manufacture carbonless paper, known today as NCR paper. The Boyd’s chose the name Villa Woodbine .

During the 1930’s, the area along Silver Bluff, where Villa Woodbine was erected, was known as “Millionaire’s Row”. Next door is the Woolworth home, which Mr. Boyd’s heirs ultimately purchased to extend their land holdings.

Cuban design influenced the interior design of the property. The Cuban tile in the dining room is a rare example of this craft. The beautifully polished tiles on the loggias bring memories of another era. The colorful tiles uniquely set into the stairway risers were purchased by Mrs. Boyd in Europe. She had much of the furniture hand-crafted by Cuban craftsmen. Some of these pieces still remain today, some eighty years later.

Upon Mr. Boyd’s passing in 1948, his daughter Martha, and son-in law William Siekman inherited the estate. They continued to use the home as their winter residence until the late 1950’s when schooling responsibilities for their children made it impossible to spend their winters away and they thus began leasing the property to others.

Can you imagine their surprise in 1961 while flipping through Life magazine in their northern mansion in Appleton to see a picture of their Villa in Miami depicted (correctly) as the home in which the Bay of Pigs invasion was planned?

A host of colorful, if not a bit eccentric lessees have occupied the residence since then — from an architect who filled the courtyard with parrots, to dreamers like treasure hunter Mel Fisher. Guests have included the Village People, Mary Wilson of Supremes fame and Pavarotti. The walls are silent to the happenings in those days.