The Deering Estate at Cutler once housed one of the most extensive and valuable art and antique collections in south Florida. Several historic inventories document the content of the houses between 1916 and shortly after Charles Deering’s death in 1927. The vast collection included paintings by Goya, Murillo, El Greco, Zuluaga, Sorolla , Padilla, Tiepolo, Degas, Boldini, Winslow, Whistler, Gainsborough, Fortuny, Zorn, John S. Sargent and Ramon Casas. The artwork also included one of the largest and most valuable collections of carpets and tapestries from Spain and the Orient to be found in the United States at that time.
In 1985, when the Estate was purchased by the State of Florida and Metro-Dade County, the remaining items of the collection found in the homes were not included. Today, the Deering Family through the Deering Estate Foundation has made numerous donations. Many of these valuable antiques and works of art have returned to the property.
In 1999, family donated approximately 340 historic books pertaining to Charles Deering. This unique collection includes: a 1699 edition of John Dunton’s The Dunlin Scuffle; a 1716 edition of The Constitution of the Catholic Church and the Nature and Consequences of Schism set forth in a Collection of Papers; a four volume 1782 edition of The Adventures of Gil Blas of Santellane; a four volume 1792 edition of The History and Adventures of the Renowned Don Quixote; a two-volume 1800 edition of the History of Tom Jones; a twelve-volume collection of the 1859 edition of The Complete Works of William Hickling Prescott; an 1857 edition of W. B. Yeats Collected Works; a collection of the 1860 edition of Sir Walter Scott’s Waverly Novels; and the 1924 limited edition (20 copies only) of The Charles Deering Collection: A Catalogue of Carpets of Spain and the Orient. This valuable collection is currently on exhibit in the Stone House Library.
Art pieces unique to the Deering Estate have returned. The 1866 Ramon Casas Carbo oil-on-canvas painting “Procesión de Miércoles de Cenizas en Barcelona” that originally hung in the Stone House Ballroom is once again on display. The early 20th Century Hispanic Gothic Revival twelve-light bronze chandelier that originally hung in the Stone House Library is once more in place. Ramon Casas Carbo’s 1908 oil-on canvas painting of Richard Flint Howe and William Deering Howe; his 1917 pastel of James Deering and his 1920 portrait of Barbara Deering; the 1907 watercolor of Sitges by M. Crusal; and of course Charles Deering’s 1894 oil-on-canvas paintings of General William Denison Whipple (his father-in-law) and of his stepmother Mrs. William Deering (Clara Cummings Hamilton), are among the many on exhibit at the Estate.
Other elements that once graced the rooms at the Estate have also been donated and are currently on the Estate. A valuable collection of early 20th century wicker furniture, original to the Richmond Cottage; a collection of eighteen original pieces of Charles Deering’s 17th and 18th Century collection of cast iron and hammered steel collection; a 15th Century Portuguese/Spanish Coverlet is on exhibit in the Stone House Ballroom; and approximately, 5,075 wine and spirit bottles from the Stone House Wine Cellar are currently being classified for selection, accession and exhibit. As of 2003 a total of 822 items have been accessioned into the Deering Estate at Cutler Collection.
OUR ANCIENT HISTORY
The history of the Deering Estate at Cutler encompasses many cultures inhabiting the land over thousands of years. Paleo-Indians, Tekestas, Seminoles, Afro-Bahamians, and Anglo-Americans have at different times, lived here, each new group literally following in the footsteps of the preceding group. The evidence that these people left behind recounts the evolutions of human housing on the Miami Rock Ridge, from karst cave dwelling to Mediterranean Revival Mansion. The archaeological records found at the Deering Estate represent a comprehensive record of human habitation in South Florida. The Estate grounds are part of the Atlantic Coastal Ridge, which has a rich history dating back 100,000 years. The Cutler Fossil site, located on the Estate, contains the fossilized remains from now extinct animals including peccaries, mammoths, sloths, dire wolves, and saber-toothed cats. This site also contains fossilized remains of early inhabitants found at the Deering Estate. These date back approximately 10,000 years. Prior to the discovery of the Cutler Fossil Site, most scientists thought human habitation in Florida dated back only 4,000 years, making the Cutler Fossil one of the most archaeologically significant sites in the Eastern United States. Most of these sensitive artifacts were carefully excavated in 1986 and are part of archive collections at the Historical Museum of Southern Florida and the Florida Museum of Natural History in Gainesville.
The Tekesta, (also spelled Tequesta), inhabited this area known as "The Hunting Grounds" from about 500 A.D. to the 1500's. From bones and relics found in our midden, we are able to determine that the Tekesta were a canoeing culture and able to sustain their families and communities from life contained in Biscayne Bay. The did not farm the land, but rather lived off of turtle, manatee, fish, shellfish, some game, and palmetto berries and sugar berries present in the natural habitats. a 350 year old oak tree grows atop a Tequesta Indian Burial Mound on the Estate. The tree's age, unfortunately, corresponds to the demise of the Tekesta culture in South Florida. The Cutler Fossil Site, the Midden, and the Cutler Burial Mound are all
located in protected natural areas on the Estate and are only accessible to the public by a Deering Estate Naturalist lead tour.
The oldest existing buildings on the Estate are those built by the Richmond Family and Charles Deering. In 1896, Samuel H. Richmond built a pioneer home for his family on the Estate as part of the settlement of the Town of Cutler. In 1900, an addition to the home was built and them opened to the paid public as "The Richmond Cottage" - the first inn between Coconut Grove and Key West. In 1913, Charles Deering, a wealthy industrialist from Chicago and first Chairman of International Harvester, purchased plots 77 and 78 and established his Winter home in South Florida. He remodeled the Richmond Cottage to is present appearance and built the 13,900 square foot Stone House to showcase his collection of fine art and furnishings. The historic outbuildings - a Carriage House, a Pump House, and Power House - were also built by Mr. Deering and today house several Artists in Residence and are collectively referred to as our Artist Village featuring traditional American craft artisans and exhibits. The Estate undergoes constant renovation and restoration. It was virtually destroyed by Hurricane Andrew in 1992 and took seven years to fully restore and reopen to the public. Only a modest collection of Mr. Deering's original furnishings and fine art exist on the Estate today.