Coconut Grove’s past is filled with the determination of its early pioneers. It was these early settlers who eventually transformed an uninhabited corner of South Florida into an elegant paradise. A retreat for the rich and famous with busy avenues and red bricked sidewalks dotted with exquisite boutiques and outdoor cages. The Grove dates back to the early 1800’s. Bahamian Seamen came to Coconut Grove to salvage treasure from wrecked vessels stranded along The Great Florida Reef.
In 1834, the family of Temple Pent settled in Coconut Grove as lighthouse keepers in Cape Florida. Soon they were joined by the Frows, another lighthouse keeping family. Two important contributions were made by Horace P. Porter. Though he lived in the Grove for only one year, he opened the first post office and called the area Cocoanut Grove. When Porter left, the post office was closed and the name was forgotten for 10 years.
Commodore Munroe reopened Porter’s post office and Cocoanut Grove once again became the name of this lovely area. The Commodore breathed an invaluable spark of life into Coconut Grove by encouraging many of his friends to relocate. Thus The Peacock Inn was soon filled with famous writers, scientists and artist who began making Coconut Grove their winter home. As the Grove entered the 20th century, its Bayfront property had most notably become a Millionaire’s Row. America’s financial giants built magnificent mansions where pioneer homes once stood. Some of these giants include James Deering, who built Villa Vizcaya (Upper right picture), and David Fairchild, who created Fairchild Tropical Gardens.
The next wave of settlers brought the Grove into its Golden Age. Englishman John Thomas Peacock settled in the south part of the Grove, an area soon to be called Jack’s Bight. Today, the beautifully seductive Peacock Park remains a relaxing haven for locals and visitors alike. The Peacocks further contributed to the Grove by opening its first hotel, The Peacock Inn. Jack Peacock and his brother Charles, were soon introduced to Ralph Middleton Munroe, a sailing enthusiast knowns as The Commodore. Munore’s home, now called the Barnacle state Historic Site is one of the area’s most popular tourist attractions. https://www.floridastateparks.org/park/The-Barnacle
By the end of World War I, Coconut Grove was home to more people listed in the Who’s Who than any other place on Earth. In 1928, the current Dinner Key Hall (seat of Miami’s mayor) became Florida’s first conduit with South America as the original seaplane terminal for Pan American World Airways. As a matter of protection, the citizens of the Grove voted for incorporation and simultaneously dropped the a in Cocoanut Grove. To this day, Coconut Grove brings to mind an Avant Gard, relaxed elegance that tantalized visitors from all over the world.