The most dramatic building in downtown Miami is the Freedom Tower at 600 Biscayne Boulevard. The brick and terra cotta, 17 story structure is 256 feet tall. On September 10, 1979, it entered the National Register of Historic Places.
The Spanish-Revival building was built in 1925 and shares many design elements borrowed from the Giralda Tower in Seville, Spain. Its elaborate cupola contained a decorative beacon. It was the original headquarters of the Miami News & Metropolis until 1957 when it was sold to the U.S. General Services Administration.
The building was designed by Schultze and Weaver. Between 1962 and 1974, the building was used as an immigration station for more than 500,000 refugees fleeing Castro’s Cuba. It serves as a memorial to Cuban immigration to the United States.
In 1997 the building was purchased for $4.1 million by Jorge Mas Canosa, initiator of the Cuban American National Foundation. In 2004, the Freedom Tower was purchased by developer Pedro Martin and his company, Terra Group. The developer hoped to build a new development on the site. Preservationists opposed the plan and in 2005 the developers donated Freedom Tower to Miami Dade College. The city later granted approval for the developers to build on the back of the property without demolishing the original tower.
Presently, it is the Wolfson Campus of Miami Dade College and is used for classroom space and a cultural center. Miami Dade College has hosted major exhibitions showcasing the works Dali, Goya and Da Vinci since the Martin family donated the tower to the institution. It recently restored The New World Mural, painted by The Miami Artisans in 1988.
Dr. EveAnn Lovero writes Travel Guides @ www.vino-con-vista.com