Brickell Avenue: Millionaire’s Row Print
Written by Paul S. George, Special to the BT   
December 2017

A view of our past from the archives of HistoryMiami

OPix_PictureStory_12-17ne of the most striking manifestations of the City of Miami’s imposing skyline, now the third densest in the United States, has been the galaxy of condominiums along the Brickell corridor. The transformation of the street and neighborhood is unprecedented, even in a city whose mercurial history is told in short paragraphs.

In the final three decades of the 19th century, the Brickell family, who were transplants from Ohio and elsewhere, began accumulating large parcels of land in the wilderness that was Miami. When the tiny settlement incorporated in 1896 as the City of Miami -- a development made possible by the arrival of Henry M. Flagler’s Florida East Coast Railway -- the Brickells began to market and develop their land.

Mary Brickell ran the family’s real estate empire, especially after the death of spouse William Brickell in 1908. At the outset of the 1920s, Mary advertised in local newspapers that she was preparing large waterfront lots on the verdant ridge known as the Brickell Hammock for sale and development. Soon many wealthy Miamians and visitors were building homes on a broad avenue that became known as Millionaire’s Row. One of those buyers was Dr. James Jackson, the city’s most prominent physician. Jackson built Homewood, a large handsome home, at 1627 Brickell Ave. In the 1930s, one of his daughters built another grand home next door, at 1617 Brickell Ave. These homes later served other residents, including José Ferré and his family, one of several prominent Puerto Rican families who settled on Brickell Avenue in the early post-World War II years. José’s son, Maurice Ferré, a future City of Miami mayor, lived in the home even after marrying Mercedes Malaussena, his next-door neighbor from the Santa Maria mansion.

In 1979 both homes were sold amid a building frenzy on Brickell Avenue. The Santa Maria survives to this day as the clubhouse for the neighboring Santa Maria condominium.

But by 1980, Jackson’s Homewood and the property south of it at 1617  Brickell Ave. had been had been razed prior to construction of the Imperial condominium.

The Imperial’s stunning design and color palette were the work of Arquitectonica, a brash young architectural firm. Featuring an avant-garde design and bright splashes of red, white, and blue, the Imperial condominium (pictured here) took its place a few years later alongside other new towers on the emerging Brickell Avenue skyline.


Paul George is historian at HistoryMiami Museum. To order a copy of this photo, please contact HistoryMiami archives manager Dawn Hugh at 305-375-1623, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .


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