Tag Archives: Racial Discrimination

Say Goodbye to the E.W.F. Stirrup House While You Still Can

Right now there’s still a bit of old among
the new, but not for long. May 18, 2016

Why was the E.W.F. Stirrup House
so important to the community?

Read: Happy Birthday Coconut
Grove!!! Now Honour Your Past

If you’re a longtime reader of Not Now Silly, you know of my years-long campaign to SAVE THE E.W.F. Stirrup House. It is with great sadness that I report the fight has been lost.

I’m throwing in the towel.

Let me be clear. A developer is going ahead with the “Historic E.W.F. Stirrup House Bed & Breakfast.” It is currently in the process of … what’s the correct word? Clearly not renovation.

I say that because I spoke to the foreman on the 18th, who confirmed what I feared. When they are done, not a single piece of the original house will remain. It will be all new construction — from the piers on which the house will sit right up through the roof.

Therefore, it will no longer be the oldest house on Charles Avenue. It will no longer be the Historically Designated E.W.F. Stirrup House.

This NEW! IMPROVED!! Stirrup House will be a mere re-creation. An ectype. An analogue of the original. A facsimile. A carbon copy. A semblance of the former. A clone. A chip off the old wood block. A mere imitation. Imposture!!! It will be a double, aka duplicate doppelgänger. A dead ringer for what used to be. A mega-ditto. An impersonation of a historic structure. An ersatz E.W.F. Stirrup House. It will be a deceit, or deception. It’s a put-on. A reproduction. A copycat. Bogus and just an effigy of the original. An incredible likeness. A look-alike. A replica. The spitting image. A pseudo E.W.F. Stirrup House, or a simulacrum. A twin, but counterfeit. It’s a fake, a forgery, and a fraud. Merely a knockoff. A phony E.W.F. Stirrup House. A sad replication. A rip-off. A hoax. A sham. A mock-up. A simulation. Just a representation. A shadow of its former self. An archetype of the Stirrup House. An impression of what once was. Merely an approximation. Possibly a reincarnation, if you believe in that.

The northwest corner of the Stirrup House, May 18, 2016.

On the left: front. On the right: the west side. Nothing of
the original house remains, the fate for the rest of the house.

In other words: even though he built
it with his own 2 hands, it will be a house that Ebenezer Woodbury
Franklin Stirrup never touched.

According to the Cleveland Restoration Society‘s guidelines, this is called a “Reconstruction”:

The act or process of depicting, by means of new work, the form, features, and detailing on a non surviving historic structure for the purpose of replicating its appearance at a specific time in its historic location.

I asked my source, who has rehabbed many old and historic houses, whether the preservationist community looks upon these recreations with the same disdain I now look upon the NEW! IMPROVED!! E.W.F. Stirrup House.

Not if it had burned down or had fallen so far into disrepair that nothing could be salvaged.

And, therein lies the rub.

The E.W.F. Stirrup House has undergone nearly a decade of DEMOLITION BY NEGLECT. I have THOUSANDS of pictures of the Stirrup House that document the slow disintegration of the historic structure over
the last 7 years. For the majority of that time this house was not
sealed from the elements, with windows either open, missing, or broken. The all-wooden house had no protection from the wind-driven rain and from the invasive vines, reptiles and insects that took over when people moved out. No wonder the developers were able to argue nothing could be salvaged.

The official reason given for
starting from scratch is termite damage. However — and I cannot stress this enough — had the house been sealed
and protected, there may not have been quite the infestation. They allowed the worst devastation to occur on their watch. Before they got a hold of it, the house was a rental property.

Bottom line: The developer profited from allowing the house to fall apart. It would have been far more expensive to bring the old structure up to code than it will be to wire and plumb an entirely new structure.

The Mariah Brown House was once
the oldest house on Charles Avenue

IRONY ALERT!!! This is the same fate that befell the Mariah Brown House, a few doors west of the Stirrup House. What is now seen is not the Mariah Brown House. It’s a relatively new re-creation.

The Mariah Brown House was once the oldest house on Charles Avenue. “Mary the Washer-woman,” as she was known, and her husband were the first to buy land on the Frow Homestead on a footpath that later became Evangelist Street, for the number of churches that were strung along its length. It’s now known as Charles Avenue.

The Browns were among the original Bahamian labourers at The Peacock Inn, right at the beginning of the nascent South Florida tourist industry. Those tourists traps — just like modern day tourist traps — needed a service industry. The Bahamians drifting up from the Keys became those workers. After enough of them gathered in West Grove, Mr. Stirrup laid out Charles Avenue, slightly out of true east-west coordinates.

That’s why this is the very 1st street in Miami. Which is why Charles Avenue was designated a Historic Roadway by the City of Miami.

When the Brown House was reconstructed, the E.W.F. Stirrup House became the oldest house on the block.

I take absolutely no solace for being right all along. Right from the get-go I called this a case of DEMOLITION BY NEGLECT. I predicted that the developer was hoping a hurricane would knock it down because he was quoted in the Miami media as saying that he would rebuild if that happened. Just substitute termites and wood rot for hurricane and you’ve got the picture.

If you’ve been reading my blog you know that I’ve been writing about West Grove for the past 7 years. Now, all of a sudden, it’s become très chic to write about Coconut Grove. The New Tropic has been all over it lately. In one recent article I couldn’t help but notice a new name attached to the reconstruction of the Stirrup House. I’ve never seen that name mentioned in connection of the Stirrup House before. However, it’s a name I recently heard in connection to a new Coconut Grove rumour that I am currently trying to chase down. Stay tuned on that.

I haven’t Googled the topic of the E.W.F. Stirrup House in a while because I was the only one writing about it. During the research for this article, to see whether there was something new I had missed, I was gratified to discover a website called Stirrup Family Legacy. Because I didn’t want to edit this, here’s the entire ABOUT page:

This collaborative effort was born in the social media space
following an inspired Facebook discussion among a few family members.
While aware that our family story is already in the public domain and
has been for some time, we acknowledged that the telling of our family
story varied greatly and was regrettably unknown to many– particularly
to those most needing to hear it. We came to an agreement as a family
and decided to act–as a family, for our family.

We agreed that our family story is a classic American immigrant tale;
one that is deeply rooted in the American dream.; one that is both
exemplary and extraordinary; one that deserves to be told; and one that
should rightfully be told by the Stirrup family.

The goals for the Stirrup Family Legacy are threefold. First, our
website is a means of preserving the Stirrup Family Legacy while
increasing the digital footprint of the Stirrup family story. We are
creating a lasting tribute to Stirrups who have passed on, and a living
legacy for current and future generations of Stirrups.

Second, we want to promote, through digital media and deeds, the core Stirrup Family Values that were lived and bestowed to us by our beloved patriarch Ebenezer Woodbury Franklin Stirrup, Sr. and Charlotte Jane Stirrup, our beloved matriarch. The values are these: commitment to FAMILY; commitment to EDUCATION; commitment to SERVICE; commitment to COMMUNITY; commitment to ENTREPRENEURSHIP; commitment to PHILANTHROPY; and commitment to CREATIVITY.

Finally, our web presence is also a means to unite our family with
the aid of the web–a virtual and ongoing family reunion that convenes
regularly in cyberspace. We created a family community where connection
and exchange of ideas, information, resources, and love can happen.

We thank you for finding us and invite all who arrive here to visit
often, contribute, become involved in our initiatives and above all,
spread the word!   S<3

As I have stated many times: The purpose of my campaign to restore the E.W.F. Stirrup House was about much more than the house. It was also to burnish the legacy of Ebenezer Woodbury Franklin Stirrup, a man way ahead of his time. During the Jim Crow years he made a fortune, but more importantly he made a home and neighbourhood for thousands of Bahamians and their descendants. The fact that there is still a cohesive Black enclave — in the middle of one of the most exclusive Zip Codes in the country — is a testament to this visionary. In the vast and ugly history of Race Relations in this country, Coconut Grove is the exception that proves the rule.

Animation: May 11, 2016, when more of the east wall still existed.

COMING SOON: Who is to blame for the
destruction of the E.W.F. Stirrup House?

The Not Now Silly Newsroom plans to name names.

Headlines Du Jour ► Thanksgiving Day!!! ► Thursday, November 28, 2013

On this very special day the entire Not Now Silly News Team is grateful for all the headlines out there and for all our readers in here. We couldn’t — wouldn’t — do it without you. Here’s is today’s exciting holiday edition of Headlines Du Jour.


Residents shocked that DeKalb County,
Georgia, juror form lists ‘slave’ as occupation

Manitoba restaurant owner says she’s closing because of racism


Stephen Henderson: Rally around Kevyn Orr to hold off Detroit’s financial buzzards

Tom Walsh: Warren Buffett gets it – Detroit is still alive and kicking


Israel heads for a terrifying split


Members Of Congress To California U.S.
Attorney: Back Off Marijuana Prosecutions


Pot Falls From the Sky in San Diego


The Unfair Tax Exemption for Politically Active Churches Must End

No, Obama Is Not Closing The Vatican Embassy


Some Florida Election Supervisors Stunned By New Voter Restrictions


Fox Business host Stuart Varney lectures Pope Francis about capitalism and religion

Greta Van Susteren Hypes Phony Postal Service War On Christmas

Fox Nation vs. Reality: The U.S. Closes Imaginary Vatican City Embassy

10 Headlines Fox News Might Have Written Had
They Existed During Key Points in U.S. History


Rob Ford investigation: Judge orders release of censored parts of police document
Remaining blacked-out information about the mayor and his associates could be made public Dec. 6, under a ruling by Superior Court Justice Ian Nordheimer.


Watch EmTV, my growing YouTube Channel

Headlines Du Jour is a leisure-time activity of National Trufax, a wholly owned and operated subsidiary of Not Now Silly.,
home of the Steam-Powered Word-0-Matic. Updated through the day. Use
our valuable bandwidth to post your news comments in today’s open

Headlines Du Jour ► Wednesday, November 27, 2013

While the rest of the world rests, the Not Now Silly news team is not allowed any sleep. Provisioned for the job at hand the NNS news team enters the internet through a coaxial cable in NNS Headquarters and collects as many headlines as they can safely carry. Then they bring them back where they are compiled into today’s Headlines Du Jour


Supreme Court takes up birth control cases

Obama administration proposes new limits on tax-exempt political groups


Judge orders expedited marriage license
so terminally ill woman can wed partner


Florida Christian School Threatens to Kick
Out Black Girl Over Her Natural Hair

Prosecutors Say This Ohio Man Plotted
A One-Man Racist Killing Spree

Where Do the Most Racist and Homophobic
People In America Live? Check This Map


America is the Stingiest Rich Country in the World


Fox News: Now the Anti-Obamacare Propaganda Channel

O’Reilly Factor’s Watters Takes on Rob
Ford: ‘Are You Having Fun Right Now?’

O’Reilly Factor is Rob Ford’s craziest interview yet


Detroit bankruptcy creditors ask judge to
take steps toward sale of DIA treasures

This Is What Detroit Could Look Like In 2033 … And Beyond


“This isn’t Toronto,” says sheriff after arresting Florida mayor
Oh brother, now small town sheriffs are using our mayor as an example



Pope Francis rips capitalism and trickle-down
economics to shreds in new policy statement

Dan Savage Was Last Straw — Catholic Group
Demands Bill Maher’s HBO Show Gets Canceled


Birth of black hole witnessed, marking watershed moment for astronomy

Mach 1,000 shock wave lights supernova remnant
Astronomers have discovered that a reverse shock wave racing inward
heats Tycho’s supernova remnant and causes it to emit X-ray light.


Headlines Du Jour is a leisure-time activity of National Trufax, a wholly owned and operated subsidiary of Not Now Silly.,
home of the Steam-Powered Word-0-Matic. Updated through the day. Use
our valuable bandwidth to post your news comments in today’s open

BLOCKBUSTER!!! The Trolleygate Smoking Gun Surfaces

Ready for his close-up: [Allegedly] corrupt Miami Commisioner Marc. D. Sarnoff
at the Trolleygate Dog and Pony Show posing for the Miami Herald.

A whistle-blower on Trolleygate could blow down the house of cards carefully erected by [allegedly] corrupt Miami Commissioner Marc D. Sarnoff. At least that’s what people who call Sarnoff the “Teflon” Commissioner are hoping.

I received a call from an anonymous tipster yesterday telling me of an email being circulated privately (but has since become public) that should have put a stop to the government operated vehicle maintenance facility*, aka Trolleygate, before the first bit of dirt had ever been turned on the project. The email, from Dakota Hendon in Miami’s Miami Building and Zoning Department, said, essentially, that the government operated vehicle maintenance facility being proposed for Douglas Avenue did not
conform to the Miami 21 Plan.

Who is Dakota Hendon? For one thing he helped write the book on the Miami 21 Plan [PDF], so he should know what’s allowed and not allowed. According to an online biography Hendon worked in the City of Miami Planning Department from August 2006 to September of 2010, when he moved to the City of Miami Building and Zoning Department. It was in this capacity he wrote to Francisco Garcia, the City of Miami Planning Director, warning that government operated vehicle maintenance facility being proposed was non-conforming. Yet, like all projects that [allegedly] corrupt Commissioner Marc D. Sarnoff comes into contact with, no one really knows how this non-conforming project got approved, especially after the Zoning department tried to put the kibosh on it.

It just kind of happened. Just like how the Marc D. Sarnoff Memorial Dog Park and the Marc D. Sarnoff Memorial Traffic Circle just kind of happened, even though no one has ever taken responsibility for green-lighting those projects.

However, we now know who tried to stop Trollygate before it even started. On May 24, 2011, Dakota Hendon wrote to Francisco Garcia — City of Miami Planning Director — which included a helpful definition from the Miami 21 Plan:


We have a bit of a problem. The Coral Gables Trolley Station that I met with you and the applicant on a few weeks ago appears to not be an allowable use as we had originally anticipated. See the definition of Auto-related industrial below. I believe this is specifically an industrial use. At this point, they have already submitted for the Warrant and action needs to be taken to stop the application. Additionally, IDR was adamantly against the project in the specific location.  Please call me to discuss at your convenience. 

Auto-Related Industrial Establishment: A facility conducting activities associated with the repair or maintenance of motor vehicles, trailers, and similar large mechanical equipment; paint and body work; major overhaul of engine or engine parts; vehicle impound or wrecking yard; outdoor vehicle sales, storage or repair; and government vehicle maintenance facilities. This includes auto related Uses not otherwise allowed within the commercial auto related establishment category.

The Marc D. Sarnoff Memorial Dog Park and adjacent Traffic Circle

Speaking of the Marc D. Sarnoff Memorial Dog Park: This has not been a very good month for [allegedly] corrupt Commissioner Marc D. Sarnoff and his doggie park. The residents are up in arms after toxic dirt was found polluting not only the dog park, but also that last sliver of land that Sarnoff decided to leave for the children, after carving out a full two-thirds of the park and turning it over to the dogs. Since the residents are also Marc D. Sarnoff’s neighbours, I imagine it’s made for some tense relations along Shipping Avenue.

IRONY ALERT: In what can only be the supreme irony in this entire story, the only reason it was discovered that the Marc D. Sarnoff Memorial Dog Park was polluted in the first place was due to the West Grove residents’ lawsuit against the government operated vehicle maintenance facility, which was thrown out of court last month. While expressing sympathy to the residents’ plight, Judge Ronald G. Dresnick ruled he did not have jurisdiction in the Trolleygate case.

However, part of the pro bono legal team that represented the West Grove neigbourhood was Zach Lipshultz, who is a graduate student at the University of Miami School of Law’s Center for Ethics and Public Service. As part of that case, he started documenting the apparent toxicity in several West Grove locations. Recently the City of Miami ordered them to be tested again and, just for good measure, included the Marc D. Sarnoff Memorial Dog Park, which had never been tested before.

As David Villano of Miami News Times notes, the Marc D. Sarnoff Memorial Dog Park is getting an immediate clean up after toxic dirt was discovered there, while the City of Miami has known about toxic soil at Armbrister Field and 3 other locations for years without taking any action whatsoever. I guess when you’re the commissioner, you just get toxic clean-ups, dog parks, and traffic circles, while the rest of the citizens of Miami can take a flying leap at a rolling donut.

But, I digress. [I’ll be writing more about the Coconut Grove’s tainted soil in an upcoming post. One Sarnoff Scandal™ at a time. Let’s just stick with Trolleygate.]

It’s all about these fake trolley buses from Coral Gables, the next town over

Coincidentally my anonymous tipster (who was the first person to ever tell me about Trolleygate and even coined the name) had contact with Dakota Hendon when he was still with the City of Miami’s Building and Zoning Department. I was told that Hendon was a helpful resource within the office, always friendly, and willing to explain and help navigate the red tape to obtain building permits. The next thing my anonymous tipster knows, Dakota Hendon is no longer
working for the City of Miami and the non-conforming government operated
vehicle maintenance facility was rushed the zoning process “faster than shit
through a goose,” to use one inelegant phrase thrown around.

Now that Dakota Hendon’s email is public, my anonymous tipster wonders whether this is why he no longer works for city and whether he was pushed, or did he quit. Here’s what’s known for certain: [allegedly] corrupt Commissioner Marc D. Sarnoff shepherded this project from beginning to end, working the backrooms with Astor Development to offer a $250,000 ‘bribe’ to improve Armbrister Field, suspected for years of being polluted.

Another long-time Sarnoff critic [who also wishes to remain anonymous. In fact, it’s hard to find someone willing to go on the record about Sarnoff because people are afraid of his vindictiveness. Many have told me stories of how he punishes his perceived enemies, something I witnessed for myself at the Trollygate Dog And Pony Show.] says this is a tried and true Sarnoff tactic: To offer something to one part of the neighbourhood to get them onside, in order to run roughshod over the rest of the neighbours’ objections, and while the various factions are playing off against one another, Sarnoff will do something like push through a government operated vehicle maintenance facility.

No doubt last month Astor Development and [allegedly] corrupt Commissioner Marc D. Sarnoff had hoped that Judge Dresnick had the last word on Trolleygate. While the residents were decided whether they should appeal, the City of Coral Gables decided to sue Astor Development over its own government operated vehicle maintenance facility.

I don’t know if depositions are taken in cases like this, but here are some questions I’d like to ask if given the chance:

I’d ask Dakota Hendon:

1). Why he’s no longer working for the City of Miami;
2). Why does the written record end at his email;
3). Did he follow up with Francisco Garcia;
4). Who approved this project;
5). What contact did he have with [allegedly] corrupt Commissioner Marc D. Sarnoff over this project;
6). What contact did he have with Astor Development.

I’d ask Francisco Garcia:

1). Why does the written record end with the email from Hendon;
2). Did he follow up Hendon;
3). Who approved this project;
4). What contact did he have with [allegedly] corrupt Commissioner Marc D. Sarnoff over this project;
5). What contact did he have with Astor Development. 

Then I would ask some pointed questions of Astor Development:

1). How often did you meet with [allegedly] corrupt Commissioner Marc D. Sarnoff on this project;
2). How many of those meetings were attended by community groups;
3). Who came up with the $250,000 bribe to Arbrister Field;
4). What assurances did you get from [alleged] corrupt Commissioner Marc D. Sarnoff that this building would go ahead as planned;
5). Whose idea was it to put shutters on the building to make it look more Bahamian;
6). What contact did you have with Francisco Garcia and/or Dakota Hendon.

Then, once I had the answers to those questions, I would call [allegedly] corrupt Commissioner Marc D. Sarnoff to the witness stand and, UNDER OATH, based on the triangulation from all those questions above, see if he will admit to being a corrupt Commissioner. I say this because no one else can think of any other reason that [allegedly] corrupt Commissioner Marc D. Sarnoff would go to bat for a developer from the next town over, to build a polluting bus garage for the next town over, that clearly contravenes the Miami 21 Plan, as evidenced by the city’s own Zoning and Planning Department official.

Who is getting what out of this project? Miami gets no tax revenue from this building and has been paying layers to defend it in court. It’s already a millstone around taxpayers’ necks. Meanwhile, the West Grove residents get all the pollution from this building, while the City of Coral Gables has denied them even the courtesy of a bus stop. Because: That might allow predominately Black West Grove to visit the lily White Miracle Mile in Coral Gables, the next town over, which is the purpose of these phony trolley buses in the first place. [Read more about Coral Gables in my series No Skin In The Game and see why I call it the city that racism built.]

Rampant speculation [in almost every conversation I have about Trolleygate] leads people to believe that somehow [allegedly] corrupt Commissioner Marc D. Sarnoff made out like a bandit on this deal, because there is no other logical explanation for him selling out his own constituents the way he did in Trolleygate.

Read all my posts on Trolleygate here.
View all my videos on Trolleygate here.

* The reason I continue to use the awkward phrase “government operated vehicle maintenience facility is two-fold: 1) That’s what it is; 2). That exact phrase is one of the specifically prohibited uses along Douglas Road, according to the Miami 21 Plan.

Edited September 21, 2013: In my anger I used an expletive that I’ve excised. Also, a lawyer suggested I take out the word “bribe.” Instead I have surrounded it in ‘these quotes’ denoting the word is used colloquially and not legally.

History Is Complicated ► Save The E.W.F. Stirrup Playhouse!

The Coconut Grove Playhouse anchors one corner of
Charles Avenue, where it dead-ends at Main Highway

History is complicated, real estate history even more so. At one time all the land at the east end of Charles Avenue in Coconut Grove was owned by E.W.F. Stirrup, one of Florida’s first Black millionaires. In fact, Mr. Stirrup once owned most of Coconut Grove, the irony being 33133 is now considered one of ‘Merka’s most exclusive area codes. To honour history I propose the Coconut Grove Playhouse name be changed to the E.W.F. Stirrup Theater.

Follow along: Back in the day, when a man of Mr. Stirrup’s complexion could not get into most movie theaters in the country, E.W.F. Stirrup owned the land on which the Coconut Grove Playhouse now sits. In order to bring culture to Coconut Grove, Mr. Stirrup sold the land on which the Coconut Grove Theater was built in 1927. While the movie theater was practically on his doorstep, that didn’t guarantee that Mr. Stirrup could enter the theater during Jim Crow days. How close was it? Watch:

Less than 300 feet separate the front door of the E.W.F. Stirrup House
from the box office of the Coconut Grove Playhouse, just catercorner


Mr. Stirrup may have been the exception that proves the rule.

It’s quite possible that a man of Mr. Stirrup’s means could have crossed The Color Line easily. It’s within the realm of possibility that he could have walked the 250 feet, from his front door to the Coconut Grove Theater’s box office, and buy a ticket at a time when other Black folks couldn’t. That would have put Mr. Stirrup in the same category as Dana A. Dorsey, who was Miami’s first Black millionaire. Mr. Dorsey was allowed to cross The Color Line as the only Black man allowed to ride on the elevators at Burdines department store. This during the same period when other Black folk couldn’t even try on the clothes in the store to see if they fit. History is complicated.

Flagler Street in the ’40s, with Burdine’s in the background

Like Stirrup, Dana Dorsey made his fortune with real estate. At one time Dorsey was one of Colored Town’s [Overtown‘s original name] largest landholders. When the William Burdine ran into money troubles, he turned to Dana Dorsey for a loan, which allowed the store to survive an economic downturn. From that day on Dorsey was the only Black person who could ride the elevators at Burdines of Flagler Street, until the store was fully integrated after his death. The exception that proved the rule. History is complicated.

SLIGHT TANGENT: How Overtown Got Its Name:


Henry Flagler’s railroad created south Florida

Overtown was one of two Colored Towns in Miami. The older, and smaller Colored Town was a part of Coconut Grove, which predates Miami. Kebo, the name the Bahamians gave their West Grove neighbourhood, eventually became hemmed in by White neighbourhoods. Black folk looking for housing had to look elsewhere, and many settled in the newer Colored Town to the north. This area was designated by Henry Morrison Flagler. As he did through every town he rammed his railroad, Flagler designated the northwest sector to be a Black neighbourhood. This was not as progressive as it sounds. These Black enclaves had a never-ending supply of workers who did the actual backbreaking labour of building a railroad through a swamp. History is complicated.

This later Colored Town became the business and entertainment district for the growing Black community that the railroad brought. Later it provided the hotels where people like Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington could find a hotel room after playing for the rich White folk, because they were not allowed to stay in the hotels in Miami and Miami Beach. History is complicated.

Between Coconut Grove in the south and Colored Town in the north is where the fledgling town of Miami grew up. When the folks in Coconut Grove talked about going to the Black entertainment district, they said, “Let’s go Over Town” and the name stuck. The city trying to designate the area Washington Heights,
despite it being on the same sea level as the rest of Miami. Eventually everyone gave in and it became known officially on maps as Overtown. History is complicated.


One other thing links the E.W.F. Stirrup House with the Coconut Grove Playhouse and that’s the rapacious developer I have profiled here repeatedly, Gino Falsetto. Through a property swap, and later what appears to be a shady real estate deal, Falsetto’s Aries Development Group has got its corporate grubby mitts on a 50-year lease on the E.W.F. Stirrup House, although the house must remain in the family in perpetuity.

In an odd coincidence [and everything traced to Falsetto is
filled with odd coincidences] Aries Group also has his fingers in the Coconut Grove Playhouse pie, and has
scuttled more than one previous deal to renovate the Playhouse. Whatever backroom deal the town big wigs have already decided upon, Gino Falsetto is still an impediment to any Playhouse restoration plan unless he signs on.

Ever since Falsetto got his hands on the property he’s done virtually nothing with the E.W.F. Stirrup House, except to allow it to undergo Demolition by Neglect. Last week I posted a video I was able to take of allegedly illegal work the inside of the Stirrup House because the property was left open and the house was left unlocked. There was no building permit, either prominently posted outside as the law demands, or hidden inside the house.

I had been assured that a building permit had since been obtained, but a week later it was not posted on the property. I am starting to wonder if they truly have a building permit. I’m starting to wonder whether they truly have a brain. When I returned on the 27th, the front door on the right was left unlocked again, which you can see in this video:

It’s almost like Gino Falsetto is hoping some accident will befall the house, before he actually has to spend the money to restore it LIKE HE PROMISED 8 YEARS AGO!!! During that time Falsetto managed to find the money and energy to build the monstrosity behind the Stirrup House, the multimillion dollar, mixed use development, with fancy restaurants and valet parking, known officially as the Grove Gardens Residence Condominiums. Yet, Falsetto has only recently spent the $10 bucks to buy some plywood to board up the upper windows, which had been open to the elements for the last 8 years. Oh, wait. Never mind. That looks like a piece of scrap. There’s no better proof that Gino Falsetto has been a bad steward of an historic community asset. What’s worse, as I keep pointing out, every infraction committed by Falsetto’s workmen is cited against the actual owners of the property, Stirrup Properties, LLC.

One again watch another video which shows how proximate the Coconut Grove Playhouse is to the E.W.F. Stirrup House and recall how both these structures are linked through both Mr. Stirrup and Gino Falsetto:


That’s why I now propose to rename the Playhouse the E.W.F. Stirrup Theater.
Save the E.W.F. Stirrup House and Theater!!!


50 Years Ago ► St. Augustine Beaches Integrated ► History Is Complicated

Florida Memory reminds us that it took blood and guts to integrate Florida beaches. On this day — June 25, 1964 — White segregationists attacked the participants of a “Wade-In” at St. Augustine, Florida:

Demonstrators held several nonviolent “wade-ins” at segregated hotel pools and beaches. This film shows footage taken by the Florida Highway Patrol of one of the largest demonstrations, a wade-in held at St. Augustine Beach on June 25, 1964 (see full-length version).

Civil rights leaders, such as Martin Luther King Jr., came to northeast Florida to show their support for the Movement. King is said to have remarked that St. Augustine was “the most segregated city in America” at the time. He pledged to defeat segregation using nonviolence, even “if it takes all summer.”

Fort Lauderdale’s beaches were integrated a few years earlier. Two years ago Fort Lauderdale celebrated 50 years of integrated beaches, which began with illegal Wade Ins in 1961. According to CBS Miami:
On July 4, 1961, Lorraine Mizell, her sister, her uncle and some friends waded into the ocean on a beach where blacks were not allowed. Mizell would later say she didn’t know how significant her actions would be.

Fort Lauderdale’s beaches had been segregated since 1927. Civil rights pioneer Eula Johnson led wade-ins like Mizell’s over the summer of 1961 in spite of threats. A year later, a state judge ruled against the city and its whites-only beach policy.

As the Sun Sentinel tells it:

Lorraine Mizell remembers the looks of disgust and catcalls as she crossed the sand. She remembers other beachgoers fleeing from the water as she waded in.

She remembers not being afraid.

For the 19-year-old college freshman, the Fourth of July in 1961 started with a phone call from her uncle. He wanted to know if she, her sister and some of their friends would like to go to the beach with him.

Their outing will be commemorated on Monday as a turning point in the history of Fort Lauderdale and racial equality.

Her uncle, Von D. Mizell, and fellow civil rights activist Eula Johnson had decided the time had come to force the city to open its beaches to all people, both black and white. July 4 began a series of wade-ins that led to a court-ordered end of segregation on Fort Lauderdale beaches.

“When we did it, I didn’t realize how significant it would be,” said Lorraine Mizell, now 69. “I knew we were doing something to break down barriers. This was a beach that I had never been able to go to, never able to put my feet in the sand. But I didn’t know we were going to be able to change things.”

If this whetted your appetite read this PDF: The Long Hard Fight for Equal Rights: A History of Broward County’s Colored Beach and the Fort Lauderdale Beach ‘Wade-ins’ of the summer of 1961

Fifty years is not that long ago and fifty years later there are still inequities built into the system.

Happy Birthday Mama Africa

Dateline March 4, 1932 – Zenzile Miriam Makeba is born in Johannesburg, South Africa. She would go on to become one of the great voices in World music. While her music will live on forever, it’s quite possible that a more lasting legacy will be her loud voice in the struggle for Civil Rights back in her homeland — from which she had been barred from ever returning — and the rest of the world. 

Miriam Makeba’s influence is such that Google has honoured Mama Africa with a one of its famous doodles today.

There are so many Miriam Makeba songs one could play, but Pata Pata, her first ‘hit,’ for which she won a Grammy, is still the one that seems to sum up her entire career. The joyful presentation, along with her unrestrained shout of joy at the 2 minute mark, perfectly encapsulates her entire career.


For politics, there was no stronger song in her repertoire than “Soweto Blues” written for her by her former-husband Hugh Masekela, a Civil Rights activist in his own right. This clip also describes her joy at being able to return to her homeland after so many years of forced exile.

Let’s all remember how Miriam Makeba fought for the Civil Rights of all of us, whether you are Black, White, African, European, Jewish, Muslim, or ‘Merkin.

Unpacking Coconut Grove ► A Compendium [UPDATED]

This is the historical marker I just happened to discover
one day in early 2009. It led to all the research that followed.

As I add chapters to my ongoing series “Unpacking Coconut Grove” this compendium will be updated with the latest on top. The first entry for 2013 is:

Happy Birthday Coconut Grove!!! Now Honour Your Past

In which I briefly lay out the history of Coconut Grove from the mid-1800s to the present-day and make the case that systemic racism is the reason the E.W.F. Stirrup House and the Mariah Brown House have not been renovated, despite promises to do so.

Previous chapters:

The corner of Charles Avenue and
Main Highway
in Coconut Grove.

Unpacking Coconut Grove, Florida – Part One

This is an overview of the area, the issues at stake, how I came to discover Coconut Grove, and why I became so passionate about it.

Unpacking Coconut Grove, Florida – Part 1.1

This chapter contrasts the 120-year old E.W.F. Stirrup House, currently undergoing Demolition by Neglect, with a house built in 1964 less than a mile away. One is rotting away and the other is for sale for $22,000,000.

Unpacking Coconut Grove – Part Two – E.W.F. Stirrup House

The E.W.F. Stirrup House,
standing proud on Charles Avenue.

This chapter delves deeper into the history of the E.W.F. Stirrup House and the history of Ebenezer Woodbury Franklin Stirrup. It explains why this proud Bahamian man’s legacy is in need of preserving for the community, as opposed to rapacious developers. E.W.F. Stirrup almost single-handedly created a Black community unique in the entire United States.

Unpacking Coconut Grove – Part 2.2 – The Neighbourhood Around The E.W.F. Stirrup House

Musings upon recent discoveries in my continued research of Coconut Grove, Charles Avenue and the Grove Gardens Residence Condominiums immediately behind the E.W.F. Stirrup House. It also includes a close up photo essay showing the damage that years of neglect have caused on the E.W.F. Stirrup House.

Unpacking Coconut Grove – Part 2.3 – The Charles Avenue Rabbit Hole Leads To Canada

Imagine my surprise when I discover my ongoing research on the E.W.F. Stirrup House leads to Canada, the country I chose to become a citizen of.

Unpacking Coconut Grove – Part Three – Who Controls What On Charles Avenue

The Coconut Grove Playhouse at the corner of Charles Avenue
and Main Highway. The City of Miami has been trying to wrest
control of it back, but one person is holding up all progress.

After extensive research I share what I have learned on who controls, or owns, properties along Charles Avenue. It turns out it’s all the same guy, or companies owned, in part, by the same guy, or properties controlled by the same guy. And, that even includes the Coconut Grove Playhouse, which I never even considered to be a part of my original research. Come on down, Gino Falsetto.

Unpacking Coconut Grove – Part Four – Open Houses and Broken Laws

In which I discover that demolition work is proceeding within the E.W.F. Stirrup House without the benefit of a Building Permit issued by the City of Miami. Also, for the first time, I get inside the Stirrup House after being invited inside by one of the men doing the demolition. This entry has lots of pictures of the inside of this historic 120-year old architectural treasure.

Unpacking Coconut Grove – Part 4.1 – A Photo Essay

Another visit to Charles Avenue seems to indicate that my blog posts are being read because the property is locked up tight again and all (allegedly) illegal demolition work appears to have stopped after being reported to the City of Miami Building Department. 

Unpacking Coconut Grove – Part Five – A Charles Avenue Love Story

180 degree panorama of the entrance to the Charlotte Jane Memorial Park Cemetery,
at one time the only place around where Black folk could bury their dead.

I would like to know more about the love affair between E.W.F. Stirrup and his childhood sweetheart, and wife, for whom the Charlotte Jane Memorial Park Cemetery, at the far end of Charles Avenue, is named. Here is the little I have been able to learn so far.

One of the informational
signs along Charles Avenue.

Unpacking Coconut Grove – Part Six – Still Building With No Building Permit

An update a week later, where I discover that (allegedly) illegal work is still proceeding within the E.W.F. Stirrup House without benefit of a work permit on prominent display.

Unpacking Coconut Grove – Part 6.1 – An Open Email to the City of Miami

Since the City of Miami has not seen fit to respond to my email, I have printed it here for all the world to read.

Unpacking Coconut Grove – Part Seven – Signs along Charles Avenue

At some point in the recent past a series of informational signs were erected along Charles Avenue. Here they are for you to read.

Unpacking Coconut Grove ► Part Eight ► The Powers That Be

Read along as I try to unpack the power structure in Coconut Grove. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain, even if it is Gino Falsetto, a Canadian who left a string of bankruptcies behind before he left cold Canada for warm Miami.

Unpacking Coconut Grove ► Part Nine ► Good Neighbours and Bad Neighbours 

What makes a good neighbour and what makes a bad neighbour? In this latest chapter of Unpacking Coconut Grove I state the difference and name names.

Unpacking Coconut Grove ► Part 9.1 ► A Bad Neighbour Photo Essay 

A follow-up to last week’s entry with some hot, new information: How did The Bad Neighbour acquire his 50-year lease on the E.W.F. Stirrup House? It wasn’t by putting up any hard-earned cash. Read this chapter to find out how a (alleged) scumbag works real estate a deal.

Unpacking Coconut Grove ► Part 9.2 ► A Photo Essay Follow Up

Why did the alleged scumbag, aka The Bad Neighbour, allow the owners of the E.W.F. Stirrup House to be cited for contravening city by-laws by the City of Miami?  ALSO: More on how the alleged rapacious developer, aka Gino Falsetto, managed to acquire his 50-year lease on the E.W.F. Stirrup House. It isn’t pretty.



Unpacking Coconut Grove ► Part 9.2 ► A Photo Essay Follow Up

It’s amazing what a phone call to the right City of Miami department can do. When I arrived for my weekly visit to the E.W.F. Stirrup House yesterday, there was a city inspector taking pictures of the house and surrounding area. Apparently the day after my visit last week, City of Miami by-law inspector Raghubir Sandhu cited and posted the E.W.F. Stirrup property for “Failure to maintain lot in a safe, clean condition; not allowing accumulation of debris, trash or dense growth of grass,” a contravention of City of Miami Zoning Ordinance 11000. Unfortunately, this was not done due to any of my blog posts (DARN!). A lovely man, Mr. Sandhu spent a bit of time with me explaining the City of Miami’s view on
non-compliance, while I told him the history of the E.W.F. Stirrup
House and Black Coconut Grove, which he had never heard before. Mr. Sandhu seemed interested in what I have been documenting in my Unpacking Coconut Grove series and took the URL of my blog with him. He said he’d take a look, which is all I ever ask (beg?) of anybody. 

Detail of notice directed to Stirrup Properties Inc.

Aries Development, through its owner Gino Falsetto, has bragged about having a 50-year lease on the E.W.F. Stirrup House. However, Aries/Falsetto is not the owner of record. That dubious distinction goes to Stirrup Properties Inc., a company held by 3 descendants of E.W.F. Stirrup, who left a codicil in his will that the house that the house must remain in the family in perpetuity. However, Bad Neighbour Gino Falsetto is the one who controls the E.W.F. Stirrup property through that lease. Falsetto is the person who allowed the property to turn into a garbage dump. Aries Development, which built the Grove Gardens Residence Condominiums, acquired control of the property by trading 2 condo units (#304 and #403) in the Grove Gardens Residence Condominiums — each valued at $500,000 at the time of the swap — for the 50-year lease on the Stirrup House. Somehow I don’t think this is what E.W.F. Stirrup had in mind when he wrote his will. Why does the phrase “40 acres and a mule” keep coming to mind?

It would appear that the descendants of Ebeneezer Woodbury Franklin Stirrup cared far less about his legacy, and the rich history of Black Coconut Grove, than they did for having a nice new condominium in a nice new condominium complex. They allowed themselves to be hoodwinked into giving Aries Development total control of the Stirrup property. This also gave Gino Falsetto the right to turn it into a garbage dump, outside as well as inside the house. Stirrup Properties Inc., and not Aries Development, would be on the hook for any fines imposed by the city.

Whenever a property
is cited for noncompliance, aside from a letter like above posted on
the actual property, a duplicate is sent by registered mail to the owner
of record, in this case Stirrup Properties, Inc. It informs the owner that it has 10 days from the issuance of the citation to correct the deficiency, otherwise fines of between $50 to $500 a day could be levied against the owner. If those tickets are not paid, a lien can be issued against the property. Yesterday Mr Sandhu was back to see whether the owners of the property had taken his citation to its corporate heart.

And, lo and
behold, it was. The grass on the property was cut and most, if not all,
of the trash was piled into the dumpster, which is now overflowing. While it’s a half-assed job, comparing these new pictures with
those taken last week and the week before, show a marked difference. Maybe one day soon Aries Development and/or Gino Falsetto might do a proper job of cleaning up the property, and not just the barest minimum to get the city inspector off his back.

While not everything has made it into the overflowing dumpster, at least the fridge is now upright.
However, there’s still a lot of trash laying around, some of it right next to the dumpster.
Some of these trash piles have been there for weeks.
A view over the dumpster of the Grove Gardens Residence Condominiums. For all I know the
descendants of E.W.F. Stirrup could have a bird’s eye view of the garbage dump left in their name.
This is what I mean by half-assed job. This litter is still right where it has
been for many weeks, literally right on the E.W.F. Stirrup House doorstep.
However, credit where credit’s due: having the grass cut makes a world of difference visually . . .
. . . until one starts to focus on the trash that’s still left on the property.
Even the bowers have been trimmed back, revealing the heaps of trash behind the E.W.F. Stirrup House.
It must be noted that those bowers are not formed by shrubs or bushes. Those are vines and weeds run amok.
To be fair: There is one tree hiding in the far back, left corner, but it’s entirely overrun by the vines and weeds.
The graffiti on the wall contravenes the city by-laws, as do these trash heaps
that have been there for several months. Maybe another citation is in order.
This is also what I mean by half-assed. Some of this litter, documented in my last two posts, has been cleaned
up. Some of it was left right where it was. Just enough work was done to please the by-law inspector.
However, good news!!! This is the exact spot where the Reggae flyer
for the last 5 weeks. It is now gone, as are all the dead leaves.
However, there’s a brand new Reggae flyer for me to keep track of. I wonder how long it will remain.
The record to beat is 5 weeks. We will follow its progress as the colours fade like the last one.
Gino Falsetto also controls, through a dummy corporation owned by one of his partners, the two
empty lots across from the E.W.F. Stirrup House. They were also cited for the same thing as the
Stirrup Property. Now the notices are just part of the litter allowed to accumulate on Charles Avenue.
This is also an example of the half assed job that was done. This is base of the Charles
Avenue historical marker across the street from the E.W.F. Stirrup House on property
also controlled by Gino Falsetto. Some of the weeds were cut and some remain.
The latest view of the Charles Avenue historical
marker that began my quest more than  3 years ago.
It’s a never-ending battle to keep litter from overwhelming the property. A good
neighbour would see to it that the job is done without having to be cited by the city.

However, let me be clear. None of the landscaping and hauling away of the trash on the property will do anything to save the E.W.F. Stirrup House from a rapacious developer. Gino Falsetto appears to have already decided that if he cannot turn the house into a Bed and Breakfast, then he will allow it to undergo Demolition by Neglect.

Open questions to Gino Falsetto and/or Aries Development:
1). What promises were made to the City of Miami and to the residents of Black Coconut Grove in order to get your building permit?

2). Why won’t you honour those agreements?



Unpacking the Aunty Em Ericann Blog Again

Every once in a while I like to pull back the curtain and show my readers what it looks like under the hood here at the Aunty Em Ericann Blog. However, and this is the important part, it’s really just an excuse for me to beg my readers to click on the ads. That’s the only way this blog generates any money for me and I work on it so very hard. Click on an advert. Clicking on an advert will cost you nothing, but it will put a few pennies into my pocket . . . and I do mean “few.”

All-time Top Ten posts.
Click to enlarge
All-time Top Ten search terms. Click to enlarge

I started this blog on April 19, 2012. Since then the blog has had 35,352 page views (as of this writing), which averages out to approximately 7,070 page views per month. That’s not bad for a newish blog. At left is a list of the all-time Top Ten Posts. It’s clear even at a small resolution that the Number One post is ahead by a wide margin: 1,493 to 610 for the Number Two post. I find that stunning for a bunch of reasons, main among them is that I’ve not promoted the Number One post; people have found it through the Googalizer, as evidenced by the next graph. At the time of this writing 526 people have found the Number One page in a search, as opposed to 293 who searched and found the Number Two post on the blog.

For the record: The Top Ten posts on the Aunty Em Ericann blog are:

Entry Pageviews

Some of those surprise me. There’s really no reason I can think of why the Barbara Walters clip comes in at Number 10, or why the post on Wretched Gretched clocks in at Number Six. Both were intended to be silly one-offs, yet they keep on garnering readers. Amazingly neither are part of the search terms people have used to find my blog.

Who am I to argue with my readers? They know what they like.

I am gratified, however, that some of the posts I am most proud of have made it into the Top Ten.  Specifically I’d like to point to the ones on Josephine Baker, The E.W.F. Stirrup House, When Whites Went Crazy in Tulsa, and The Detroit Riots. The thread that connects them all is that they are all about Race Relations and Racism, a subject I have been researching as my own Independent Studies Course as long as I can remember.

Meanwhile, I will keep publishing my blog. Hopefully my readers will realize how much hard work goes into writing these posts and will click on an advert, or two, or three and help support this project.