Preservation on Bay Harbor Islands’ East Island stirs controversy

MiMo style architecture on East Island
MiMo style architecture on East Island

Just six weeks ago a national historic-preservation group described Bay Harbor Islands’ East Island “one of America’s 11 most endangered historic places.” But the declaration hasn’t stopped two Town Council members from questioning the need to preserve the island’s buildings.

At the first council meeting since the nonprofit National Trust for Historic Preservation included the town on its list, council member Solange Rousselot said she did not share preservationists’ appreciation of the “Miami Modern,” or MiMo, style buildings, which date from the late 1940s and 1950s

“Historic buildings should not be measured in decades,” Rousselot said. “Historic buildings should be measured in centuries. With all of these buildings that are not very well maintained, it would be very irresponsible for us to designate them historic because they would not last 50 more years.”

And Vice Mayor Jordan Leonard added that the government should not be forced on property owners, according to the Miami Herald.

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“If the county wants to come and designate your property, and you have no say, I have a problem with that,” Leonard said. “The problem that I have is if you want to educate them, that is fine but [not when you are] forcing them to the point that they are scared…I have had residents that have even cried.”

But some locals, like Teri D’Amico, a longtime East Island resident who co-coined the term MiMo, have criticized council members.

“You are not thinking about the criteria for harmony on this island,” D’Amico told the council. “You are not being thoughtful or sensitive to these older structures.” [Miami Herald]Christopher Cameron