Villa Paula, the long-forgotten former Cuban consulate in Miami, has new life as an art gallery and museum.
The Cuban government built Villa Paula in Miami in 1926, using only Cuban labor and materials.
Now the consulate-turned gallery and museum is stocked with art by Picasso, Renoir and Alexander Calder as well as Cuban artists.
Martin Siskind bought Villa Paula in 2003 and has renovated the building on North Miami Avenue by installing a new roof and a new air conditioning system. He also has re-conditioned original features including doors, window shutters and tile.
Siskind calls it a labor of love and appreciation for history: “As long as I’m alive this building is going to stand here,” said Siskind who doubts that Villa Paula will become a Cuban consulate again.
The first time Siskind visited Villa Paula, he said, “I felt the atmosphere and the incredible architecture, and I was just hoping that some developer wouldn’t knock it down, because so many great buildings have been lost in Miami.”
Villa Paula is named for Paula Milford, the wife of a Cuban consul. She is buried in the backyard of the villa. [NBC Channel 6] — Mike Seemuth