Herald building is historic on all counts

The building is an iconic example of mid-century Miami Modern architecture, MiMo for short, as is the Bacardi Building on Biscayne Boulevard and the Miami Marine Stadium in Virginia Key, two structures that have already been granted historic designation and protection.

Herald building is historic on all counts

By Fabiola Santiago
The Miami Herald

These walls around me can talk and they have a heck of a story to tell — our history, Miami’s history.

When it comes to making the case for the historic preservation of The Miami Herald building, it doesn’t matter whether you like or hate the newspaper, or whether you like or dislike the look of the Miami Modern architecture of the building.

It also shouldn’t matter whether you’re in favor of or against the plan of the Malaysian company, Genting, to turn the 13.9-acre property into a mega-casino gambling resort. As revolting as that possibility strikes me on so many levels, it hits especially hard because of the watchdog role the newspaper has played in the city’s history.

But what makes a building worthy of historic preservation is decided by a set of established criteria, not opinions, and The Herald building meets every requirement set forth by the Miami City Charter, says Becky Roper Matkov, chief executive of the Dade Heritage Trust and the preservationist leading the charge to gain historic designation for the waterfront Herald building.

“The Herald has been an incredibly historic force in this community for decades, and this building has been a huge influence in the community,” Roper Matkov says.

The fact that The Miami Herald’s parent company, McClatchy, sold the building to Genting for $236 million last year should not be a factor in determining historic designation, Matkov says.

The building is an iconic example of mid-century Miami Modern architecture, MiMo for short, as is the Bacardi Building on Biscayne Boulevard and the Miami Marine Stadium in Virginia Key, two structures that have already been granted historic designation and protection.

Ground was broken on Aug. 19, 1960, for the $30 million Miami Herald plant. At the time it was completed in 1963, it was the largest building in Florida.

Open house on April 7, 1963, brought 10,000 people to “gape in wonder at the expensive equipment and the immense space occupied by various departments in a splendid modern setting,” retired Herald writer Nixon Smiley wrote in his 1974 book Knights of the Fourth Estate: The Story of The Miami Herald.

The Herald’s six-story building stands in an arts district where other nearby structures such as the Sears Towers and The Boulevard Shops have already received historic designation, and thus are protected from being torn down.

Yet, at least on the surface, when it comes to the fate of the unmistakable yellow-colored building flanking the bayfront between the Venetian and MacArthur causeways, sometimes it seems that few Miamians care.

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