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To Deauville with LOVE!

  • By Djordje

Before I start walking down memory lane, a few words about this gem for people who are not familiar with its story.

The Deauville Hotel, on Collins Avenue, directly faces the Beachwalk in Miami Beach, at a stretch from North Shore park to Allison Park at 63rd Street. For all Miami Beach residents who love its history and quirks, news that Deauville Beach Resort might be torn down soon is just as bad as it can get (read ‘might’ more as probably). Having suffered Hurricane Irma hit back in 2017, followed by years of neglect, this exquisite architectural construction has been found unsafe.

For locals, the Deauville is historical. In 1964, The Beatles stayed there for a week. Their live “Ed Sullivan Show” performance was broadcasted to 70 million people from the Hotel’s Napoleon Ballroom. This helped cement the Beatles’ extraordinary popularity in the United States and Deauville’s status as a South Florida cultural landmark. The venue also attracted celebrities such as Frank Sinatra, Jerry Lewis, Lena Horne, Mickey Rooney, Tom Jones in its heyday. President John F. Kennedy spoke there at an event in 1961.

Distinguished by its dramatic porte-cochère fashioned with parabolic curves over the driveway entrance, a feature of its postwar-modernist architectural style, The Deauville Beach Resort was one of the most important entertainment centers in North Beach for years.

A good friend of mine CF (laughter yoga enthusiast :) lived at the Deauville. When I first visited her, I didn’t know anything about it. But you couldn’t help feeling that it was something special. The ENTRANCE – super cool. Huuuge lobby, full of people. Magnificent elevators covered with fine woodcraft felt like a time capsule from the 60s; in the hallway on way to my friend’s apt, the baby-faced Beatles photos. Her apartment – a small efficiency, was graced by a balcony facing the ocean.

At that time I lived in the Mirador SoBe, facing Biscayne Bay and the distinct Miami skyline. I was passionate about its views and unforgettable sunsets. Then, my friend moved to California, and before she sold the apt, I held the fort for a while. That’s how I fell in love with Deauville and the east side of MB.

While staying at the Deauville I discovered that sunrises are just as spectacular as sunsets and, of course, the ocean and the beach. At Deauville’s, everything was GRAND. Lobby, ballrooms, pool area, pool itself, jacuzzi. You could just open the gate, cross the path, and step on the beach from the pool area.

There was another thing that captured my heart during that stay. From the balcony on the sixth floor, I could hear the sounds of waves, almost as I were sitting by the ocean. Or even better – I swear. Maybe because the building was positioned right next to the Beachwalk and the ocean, without a pool or garden in between.

Balcony at the Deauville, sixth floor. By 2010 all balconies had glass on the outside, except for a friend of mine. She kept the original concrete wall.

Sitting on the Deauville’s balcony, inhaling the view, the sound of waves, the shimmering silver ocean, and distant heat lightings, resulted in a couple of priceless full moon-rise experiences that became lifelong memories.

A few years later, in 2014, during the 50th anniversary of the Beatles & Deauville event, the cover band 1964 The Tribute performed on the same stage in the same room. Guess what – I was there. Of course, the band was not the Beatles, and we in the audience were not wild teenagers (as a matter of fact, most of us were middle-aged). But the outcome was a pure Deauville magical evening. Listening to the tunes of the Beatles’ greatest hits, everybody on the dance floor was screaming like 50 years ago.

Sadly, the Deauville is shuttered today, enclosed by a chain-link fence. Soon, it is likely to be demolished, to the shock and disgust of preservationists, who fear this will set a troubling precedent, undermining their efforts to protect South Florida’s architecture and history.

Today I live on MB’s east side, in another historic building, the Seacoast, designed by Morris Lapidus. Almost every morning, I ‘stride” on the beachwalk by Deauville’s walls covered with black construction curtains. And I remember the magical moments I spent there.

I still have a glimmer of hope that, thanks to the City Commission and MDPL efforts, Deauville might not be demolished. However, as with many love stories, I am worried because we usually realize just how precious something is only when we are about to lose it.

Deauville, I LOVE YOU, please don’t go away! 

PS: While writing this post, I realized how often the impossible, the unimaginable, actually become a reality in our lives? So, what if our Deauville gets demolished for REAL in the next few months as scheduled?

Despite everything our community is doing, If we can’t prevent that – how about transforming something negative into something positive? Let’s capture and preserve Deauville with our photos, videos, art, words. Let’s shower our beloved Hotel with our fondest memories. And share. #To Deauville with Love!

Latest update: Unfortunately, the Deauville demolition started on Saturday, March 12, 2022, despite all community efforts.

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