[Photos by Raquel Zaldivar]
Coral Gables' Venetian Pool reopened Saturday March 14th after only the third renovation since its creation in 1923, a restoration and preservation that sought to change as little as possible while giving the venerable pool some tender loving care. Commissioned by George Merrick, who wanted to turn a rock quarry that had been used to build many of the Gables' early houses into a 'Venetian Casino' (in those days a 'casino' was any building used for pleasure or social amusements, sometimes with swimming), artist Denman Fink and architect Phineas Paist created an 820,000 gallon lagoon that would be emptied and refilled every day in the spring and summer seasons by the underground Floridan aquifer, waterfalls, grottoes for swimming, a sandy beach, an island, and of course the casino itself, flanked by two tall lookout towers. Curbed photog Raquel Zaldivar went to check it out, taking plenty of photos, and some notes.
· The repaired roofs have a combination of original Cuban barrel tiles along with new replacements.
· The white breaks (lines) in the concrete floor of the pool were put in to help reinforce the concrete and keep it from cracking.
· The beach has brand new sand.
· A new walkway has been added between the sandy beach and the pool
· All the landscaping is completely new. They also created a path that goes from the cafe, around the beach and around the pool, all the way to the waterfall. There are some new picnic tables, too, where people can hang out and eat, etc. · The new plants are not exactly like the ones that were there when the original pool opened, but they wanted to represent the original color palette as closely as possible. They redid the inside and outside with plants, including some fruits like the pineapples in the front.
· The entryway/cashier area is new and now meets ADA standards.
· The cafe is being completely redone, with tiles that are similar to those in the cafe courtyard. Renovation is still underway here.
· There is a brand new butterfly garden.
· Through a partnership with Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden, more plans will be added to the grounds, possibly including some orchids. They are doing everything possible to make it look as much as it did in the 1920s.
· The wooden awnings are currently still being replicated and replaced, a process which will continue this spring/summer.
· The next rennovation, which will probably be next year, will include changing the color of the pool bottom to match the original coloring, which was a shade of blue.
· Restoration of the outer fence and new bike racks outside the entrance are also happening soon.