In the color photo in the front page, Anne is standing near the dock of a gated luxury waterfront enclave downtown in the Village of Coconut Grove where she recently helped customers purchase a home.
Nearby was the dock at the Peacock Inn, circa 1900, only footsteps distant and yet one hundred years away.
November 1900 Solomon Greasley Merrick, his wife Althea and their thirteen year old son George sailed into the Bay, arrived at this dock, and then rested at the Peacock Inn on pristine Biscayne Bay in Coconut Grove. They journeyed by a horse drawn wagon into the Everglades swamp and settled on land that they later developed into the world famous City Beautiful of Coral Gables.
Dade County Needs Money! Taxes Double!
By Anne Platt
are too high! Roads are impossible! What was the tax assessor thinking
when he established my assessment? I'll protest!
Dade County Commission was called to order Sept. 6,1869. Three community
service minded pioneers representing approximately seventy-five
registered Dade County voters were present. Book A, page one of the Dade
County Commission Records show that John Addison,
Andrew Price, and Frances Ingfinger, President, ordered "that the
assessor levy a tax of twenty-five cents upon each one hundred dollars
of taxable property in the county."
County, named for Major Francis L. Dade, massacred by Indians the year
before, was created in 1836. The first county seat was at the bustling
settlement of Indian Key, considered safer than the mainland as the
Seminole Indians were on the warpath. Over two hundred
miles in length, the original huge Dade County extended from the Bahia
Honda Key some thirty miles east of Key West, clear north to the St.
Lucie River at Stuart. In 1866 the southern boundary was moved to
Jewfish Creek just south of Homestead.
the old Ft. Dallas site, now downtown Miami.
kept by W. H. Gleason, the clerk, show total taxes collected for 1871
were $25.77 for the school tax and $115.34 for the county tax.
Basic math would make the total assessment-for the Dade County tax roll
that year approximately $46,000.00 for all of the real property from
Homestead to Stuart!
Dade County needed more money! The commissioners ordered 1874 taxes
raised to fifty cents per one hundred dollars for County taxes, thirty
cents per $100 for courthouse taxes and twenty cents per one hundred
dollars for schools.
B. Brickell, also a County Commissioner, protested the $3,700.00
assessment on 2,422.87 acres along the Miami River and south (today land
along Brickell Avenue) that were owned by his wife. He thought the prior
assessment of sixty cents per acre more accurate. That assessment
beginning to cherish its own identity as an artist's haven and
upscale tourist hide-away, Coconut Grove decided to incorporate in 1919.
The citizens formed their own Town Council and Board of Equalization to
set assessments and collect taxes.
Saint Gaudens and her late husband, the famous sculptor, were among the
many drawn to the growing arts community in Coconut Grove. In February
were frequently unable to reach her
Bay front estate at the end of Ozone Avenue because the road was
impassable. The county and state had reduced her taxes by $30.00 per
year for each of the last two years. She asked Coconut Grove to do the
same. The equalization board declined. They did later fix the
road. Of course it is now named Saint Gaudens after her family!
for June 30, 1920, kept by the town clerk Frederick Ross, show the total
amount of tax collected by Coconut Grove to be $10,583. The tax assessor
reported that the tentative valuation for the next year was to be
few miles west in the South Miami area, just east of the Red and
Sunset crossroads, the entrepreneurial
John Edward Ravlin, a
estate developer and landowner, found his own solution to the city tax
problem. Ravlin, who later dug the Mahi waterway between present day
Alfonso and South Alhambra, already owned approximately eighty acres of
groves in the area. He didn't want to be a part of the new Coral Gables,
and in the 1920's sued the City of Coral Gables to stop the annexation
of his property.
lawsuit went all the way to the Florida Supreme Court where Ravlin won.
Look for the small area of Dade County right on the Mahi waterway!
(Author's note: As of 2006 this is again part of Coral Gables.)
daughter and son-in-law Roxanne and Karl Hart shared the story that as
the depression hit, Ravlin got caught developing two subdivisions. He
had just laid the sewer pipe in both, and had no money to pay the
property taxes that were due. He pulled the sewer pipe up in one, and
sold it for scrap metal to pay the taxes on the second, thus saving both
of his properties!
put the dollar value in perspective, a pound of coffee cost seventeen
and one half cents in 1900, thirty-nine cents in 1923, and over two
Look for additional bits about our early pioneers on this page in my
Website in the next months.