Holiday Party
at the Cocoanut Grove Golf Course

Imagine the most extravagant and outrageous Holiday ever! Perfect for the sophisticated and upscale man or woman who already has everything! Give an investment in one hundred acres for the newest and most up to date golf course complete with a lake and bridle paths. Located just west of Cocoanut Grove, it would be developed into a world class 18-hole golf course and tennis club.

George Merrick made this offer to our very own Cocoanut Grove residents in December 1921. They could have the land, if they would agree to build a first class clubhouse and restaurant with all the Country Club amenities.

The roaring twenties boom in Miami was in full swing, and wild speculation was rampant.



During the exciting winter season, Cocoanut Grove was host to tourist and winter residents from all over the world. Many stayed at the stylish new Sunshine Inn, located at the corner where Main Hiway met Douglas Road. Dining was in the tearoom across the street nestled amidst the various guest cottages.

The young city of Cocoanut Grove had now become famous!

Though stock in golf courses was not usually a gift, the Holidays were always a grand affair in early Coconut Grove. The Miami Metropolis Newspaper records from a hundred and ten years ago, recount of Yachting parties on Biscayne Bay, dances at the Housekeepers Club (The Woman's Club of Cocoanut Grove), and men only gatherings at the Biscayne Bay Yacht Club, then headquartered above the Peacock Inn.

The men went fishing on Biscayne Bay and hunting in the wooded wilderness just west of Cocoanut Grove. They procured the entrees for the gala Holiday gatherings.

In addition to non-stop cooking for the Holidays, the women were busy with their fundraisers and charity work. "Friends of the Library", led by Mary Barr Munroe (Mrs. Kirk Munroe) held a library fair Dec. 16, 1899 in the hall over Peacock's store. They sold Christmas goods and baby articles. The next week Mrs. John Haden and friends directed a bake sale and bazaar with homemade goodies. All funds went to the library.

The various churches collected for the poor, and forwarded their contributions to the Union Benevolent Society, forerunner of Plymouth Congregational Church. While much of Plymouth today is newer, in 1898 it was located in and around the small frame building still standing on the grounds today.

Each of the local Churches had candlelight services on Christmas Eve. Most of them had Community Christmas trees that were decorated with candy, nuts and other tokens of good cheer, later distributed to the children.

Christmas Day 1897 was filled with bicycle races, baseball matches (Miami beat Palm Beach 22 to 18), cruising or fishing on Biscayne Bay, and hunting in the everglades.

Community Christmas trees were always popular in Cocoanut Grove. Dawn Rigby Laws reminisces that when she was a little girl in the 1920's, there was a great dazzling lighted Community Christmas tree on the land next to the Bay where Coconut Grove Sailing Club now stands. All the Grove children would come gather round, and receive gifts just before Christmas.

Barbara Pierce Keller remembers as a small child in the 1930's, even during the worst of the depression, that there was still a Community Christmas tree. The merchants in the Grove decorated the tree right in front of the American Legion Hall on MacFarland. Santa Clause, sponsored by the Coconut Grove merchants, would come Christmas Eve to bring each child a gift. Then all would join in singing Christmas carols.

Bill Munroe, grandson of Commodore Ralph Munroe, recollects the times when he and his father would go into the woods just west of LeJeune Road. They would travel across the pink sidewalks, and cut a Dade County Pine tree for the Christmas tree.

Dawn Rigby Laws remembers her parents taking the Model T Ford down Old Cutler, then a dirt trail, to Tahiti Beach, now an enclave of Luxury homes. Everybody kept their axes sharp to go each year to cut the Christmas tree!

arbara Pierce Keller recalls that her father went a little farther out the old Sunset Drive dirt road. They took the ax and shotgun out near modern day Dadeland. For the tree cutting ceremony, they would fire the shotgun and then her father would swing the mighty ax, and down would fall another Dade County Pine tree!



Now the Holiday season of 2012 is upon us. Let's go get our Christmas trees. I'll look for you at the Christmas tree stand west of LeJeune Road or at Dadeland!

Various parts of this article were originally published in the Dec. 1998 issue of the Coconut Grove Times. I have expanded and updated parts of it this year.

Look for additional bits about our early pioneers on this page in my Website in the next months.

Best wishes for a Happy Holiday and Prosperous New Year!


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