Sunday, January 26, 2020

Casa Casuarina or Versace Mansion

The Versace Mansion (1116 Ocean Drive, Miami Beach FL) was built in 1930 by architect Henry La Pointe. It was built in the Mediterranean Revival style with Gothic, Neo-Gothic influences. It is renowned for being owned by Italian fashion designer Gianni Versace from 1992 until his death in 1997. The most prominent feature is a highly ornamented carved stone entryway with decorative column and a neo-gothic pointed arch above door. There are arches above windows; wrought-iron grilles and railings, balconies, a bright orange clay barrel tile roof, and lush gardens.

Original owner and designer, Alden Freeman, built it after visiting Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic. There he admired Alcazar de Colon, built by Diego, Christopher Columbus’ son. A single brick from that site was used in this home. Legend maintains Casa Casuarina was the original name as homage to the only remaining tree in the lot after the 1926 hurricane. Freeman was forced to cut down the tree in order to make room for construction. Casuarina esquisetifolia is the botanical name of the tree known as the “Australian Pine”.

Gianni Versace purchased the property in 1992 and spent $33 million in expansion and renovations. Versace famously purchased, and subsequently demolished, the adjoining building and land to the south, the Revere Hotel (1110 Ocean Drive), where he expanded the original building, as well as added a luxurious pool and gardens. Versace was shot and killed on the steps of his home in 1997.

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