Opinion: Fun Size History – Fabulous Paist Cottage Seeks New Owner

By: Dr. Brett Gillis

The Paist & Steward-designed 1930s cottage located at 2214 Segovia Circle is looking for its next lucky owner.  This residence is significant not only for its original architecture but also for its association with Phineas Paist and Harold Steward.

1930s Gem: 2214 Segovia Circle as it Appears in 2021 (Image Courtesy of VC Photography)

Mr. Paist was an architect of Quaker decent from Philadelphia that moved to Miami in 1916 to work on Villa Vizcaya.  He was one of a few architects in the area with formal training at the time and became well known due to Vizcaya’s huge success.  Coral Gables Founder George Merrick brought him on as supervisor of color when Coral Gables was just a fledgling community.  Old Spanish/ Mediterranean architecture was so new that Paist provided valuable insight into what colors should be used and how buildings could be constructed in harmony.  Miami and Coral Gables grew rapidly from towns on “America’s last frontier” to bustling cities during this time, and Mr. Merrick promoted Paist to the first supervising architect.  Harold Steward was Paist’s draftsman during the early 1920s, and the two eventually opened a joint architectural firm.  The Paist & Steward partnership produced some of our most cherished buildings—City Hall, San Sebastian Apartments, First Church of Christ Scientist, and several unique residences like this one.  Paist’s contribution to Coral Gables history cannot be overstated—he had a hand in designing or approving almost every building that was constructed in Coral Gables in the 1920s and 30s.  Mr. Steward went on to open his own firm and become a prominent architect in his own right.

Phineas Paist – a Dapper Young Man at Villa Vizcaya c.1916 (Image Courtesy of Author’s Scrapbooks)

To study 2214 Segovia Circle is to constantly discover new charms.  The broad entry loggia is the first to greet owner and guest.  This and the squat, whimsical chimney show that this home is somehow special, somehow different from a 1920s home.  When 2214 Segovia Circle was built in the 1930s, Coral Gables architects were experimenting with new typologies that moved away from the decorative Mediterranean style that had become passé and tired during the Great Depression.  Other lovable features must be the loggia’s moongate “full moon” arch and whimsical masonry planter alongside.  To the delight of those that enjoy sipping a cup of morning coffee out of doors, this loggia was positioned to maximize southeastern exposure and thus capture both the morning light and the southern breeze.  Inside, the hand-crafted fireplace is an objet d’art, and an original Art Deco bathroom brightens up the most utilitarian of rooms (though, interiors of private homes are not historically designated in Coral Gables like they are in Palm Beach).

Phineas Paist died in 1937, so this was one of his final designs.  In a tribute, Richard Kiehnel (who was the father of Mediterranean architecture in greater Miami) wrote: “Paist was a true artist.  To him remuneration was not the inspiration for his superior productions.  He possessed that rare urge to do everything well and put the full force of his soul into it regardless of size, compensation or importance.  He did not measure the scope of his commissions with a yard stick of dollars and cents; so likewise the rare value of his artistic productions cannot be measured by any standard.  This is inestimable.  This reflects the soul of the true artist” (Florida Architecture and Allied Arts, 1938).

Phineas Paist (far left) with Denman Fink and Others at Ground Breaking (Image Courtesy of State Archives of Florida)

Candy bars are not the only thing that come in fun size!  This one-of-a-kind cottage is a gem from the Depression Era when little construction occurred in Coral Gables.  With ample room for a tropical garden, a pool, a sensitive addition…. this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make it your own.

What’s more—location, location, location!  Segovia Circle has always been one of my favorite, if lesser known, streets in the Gables.  Conveniently located near downtown but miles away in spirit, this one-of-a-kind winding street is dotted with numerous historic residences and has a tranquil vibe that transports resident and guest—perhaps to a quaint village in Andalusia or the Coral Gables of our youth.

Paradise found!

The thoughts and opinions in this column are my own.  This home is currently listed for sale by EWM, but I have not received payment of any kind.  I chose to highlight this home because of its special architecture and history.


7 thoughts on “Opinion: Fun Size History – Fabulous Paist Cottage Seeks New Owner

  1. A 2 bed 1 bath at 1.2 million!!??? That’s LAUGHABLE. Cusak is notorious for overpricing and letting houses just sit. Awful.

  2. We need to keep these wonderful historic houses and to preserve them. Please don’t let someone buy it who wants to McMansion it……we have plenty of them around if that is what they want. I hate to see so many of our gems added on to and overbuilt….Coral Gables is becoming an every city instead of it’s own special place…

  3. Ms Belly,

    No question some folk like historic things. Absolutely nothing wrong with that. Heck, *I* like historic things, for example, 2,000+ years old Roman structures in France, Spain, etc.

    The problem is that when it comes to folk who like other people’s “historic” houses, they usually want someone else to *pay* for what they like.

    So, all the nice people who want to preserve 2214 Segovia Circle for posterity, please pass the hat among yoursleves, come up with $1.2M and buy the property from its current owner Then, you can enjoy it–at your expense, since you paid for it–as much as you wish. Problem solved.

    OK, so you can’t come up with the money? Then convince the Coral Gables mayor and commissioners to buy the property at taxpayers’ expense. If that is what my fellow Coral Gables citizens want, then so be it. If not, then they will vote those elected officials out of of office for squandering their tax dollars for the benefit of the nice folk who enjoy “historic” things, like the house in question.

    You and everyone reading these notes be well; stay safe.


  4. Cute house. Who would want to demo? We don’t need more Mcmansion or towers. I don’t need pass by a museum to see chopped buildings and old photos, I want live in a historic city. This is why we moved to Coral Gables.

  5. Yep, some “lucky” sucker is going to buy this “charms” laden cute little “gem” only to then figure out that it may wind up being saddled with a “historic” designation manacle.

    City of Coral Gables
    City Hall, Commission Chambers and Virtual Meeting on Zoom
    Historic Preservation Board
    Wednesday, February 17, 2021
    4:00 PM

    1. 21-2073 CASE FILE LHD 2020-009: Consideration of the local historic designation of the property at 2214 Segovia Circle, legally described as Lot 11 and the Northwesterly 30 Feet of Lot
    12, Block 22, Coral Gables Section “B,” according to the Plat thereof, as recorded in Plat
    Book 5, at Page 111 of the Public Records of Miami-Dade County, Florida.

    Members of the public may join the meeting via Zoom at
    https://zoom.us/j/95138793856. In addition, a dedicated phone line will be available so
    that any individual who does not wish (or is unable) to use Zoom may listen to and
    participate in the meeting by dialing: (305) 461-6769 Meeting ID: 951 3879 3856.

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