Roam Through Time at Miami River Inn
June 30, 2016
Many people might think that Miami’s history, being relatively short compared to other cultural metropolises in the U.S., has little to offer for the textbooks. But rest assured, what it lacks in length it surely makes up for with diversity and compelling tales of a colorful yesteryear. Our city is peppered with historical landmarks, each representing a different powerful family or architectural era, towered by the urban sprawl that has modernized Miami into the portal gateway city it has now become. One such landmark, standing humbly as it nuzzles the Miami River like a wrinkle in time is the River Inn, a community of cottages that has withstood adaptation by remaining hidden behind the bustle of a growing city.
Built in the early 1900s, the River Inn is Miami’s oldest hotel, modestly making its way into the National Register of Historic Places. It was a functioning hotel for decades, seeing many of Old Florida’s elite within its hardwood halls (like Marjory Stoneman Douglas’ 90th birthday). Eventually, preservationist Sallye Jude (whose husband developed what we now know as CPR) purchased the property in the 90s and restored it into a bed and breakfast. It has now fallen into the hands of Avra Jain, Miami’s restoration pioneer who has revamped the MiMo District and the now local hotspot, the Vagabond Hotel on Biscayne Blvd. The community of houses is made up of 4 Dade-County pine cottages from the early 1900s, 2 Art Deco houses, and the rest of the structures being built in the 80s. Or what we call: a collection of architectural time capsules.
“…standing humbly as it nuzzles the Miami River like a wrinkle in time is the River Inn, a community of cottages that has withstood adaptation…”
Today, the River Inn is now the home of Roam’s Miami chapter. A little background on Roam; it’s co-living for the nomadic worker. You can have access to Roam spaces all over the world including Madrid, Bali, and now Miami, while being immersed into some of the most vibrant cultures across the planet. Each of their locations are tied together by a historical thread, which only makes the experience more valuable. With Roam at the River Inn, members have Little Havana and the rest of Miami at their fingertips. Plus, events and happenings that value local interaction above all else. Miami’s Jojo Tea is perched in their kitchen, local art and archival photos along the halls, and a strong support of local happenings (we’ve seen the team at quite a few of our events!). And of course, being surrounded by such old Miami charm only makes it all the more welcoming.
Back to the place at hand. The grounds are lush and verdant; native plants like Sabal palm (our State tree) tower over ponds of edible garlic flowers. The landscaping is inspiring to behold, filled with beach-style nooks and polka-dotted with the brilliant hues of Birds of Paradise and the rustling of bamboo. There’s a flamingo of the inflatable persuasion floating lazily in the pool, winking to the hanging tree orchids and flickering iron lamps. The cabins are all of a pastel palette, their exterior colors matching the interior furniture and bedroom schemes.
“…filled with beach-style nooks and polka-dotted with the brilliant hues of Birds of Paradise and the rustling of bamboo.”
In fact, the team behind the restoration project spent endless hours sifting through archival photos in partnership with local historians and HistoryMiami to nod heavily towards the past and preserve the magic of the property. You can even see a picture of a neighbor walking his dog, the same neighbor who still takes a stroll at the same time today. Like the city it calls home, the River Inn is a collaborative effort and will continue to do so as it grows.
What’s to come: The city is working to commission the extension of Jose Marti Park so that its greens stretch to the Inn’s porch front. Across the Miami River will be the upcoming River Wharf project which will breathe more life back into the restored area. The shipping container bar, kitchen, and deck by Little River Box Co. by the Inn’s pool will sprawl into a fully-functioning outdoor hang for both members and guests. The Casa Florida restaurant, slated to open later this year, will transform one of the old cottages into a canoe club locale inspired by the fist markets that once brought heavy traffic to the area. Spear-headed by the same team as Brickell’s Baru, and Brooklyn’s El Almacen and Rosarito Fish Shack, the indoor-outdoor eatery will feature local products like jellies, jams, fruits, and honies along the walls; the ingredients finding themselves into the drinks that will be served in the upstairs cocktail bar. A much-needed local hang that won’t disrupt the neighborhood.
“When a city lies its drive in the future, how does it secure its present? By breathing fresh air into the past.”
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