By Paul S. George
Spring Garden is one of Miami-Dade County’s most historic neighborhoods. Located on the north bank of the Miami River, Spring Garden is named for a freshwater spring, along with a thick subtropical hammock that covered it prior to its residential development. This quaint, shady neighborhood stretches from the Miami River north to N.W. Eleventh Street, and in an east to west direction, from the Seybold Canal and Northwest Eighth Street Road to N.W. Twelfth Avenue.
Few persons lived there until John Seybold, early Miami’s preeminent baker, began acquiring land in the area in the second and third decades of the twentieth century. A significant exception here was Warren Frazee, also known as “Alligator Joe,” who operated one of Miami’s earliest, most successful tourist attractions on Wagner Creek, a tributary of the Miami River.
John Seybold would purchase the land on both banks of Wagner Creek, which he bridged, widened and renamed the Seybold Canal, and provided an impressive infrastructure before placing his development on the market. Seybold, who envisioned an upscale residential subdivision, was assisted in his efforts to market Spring Garden by the filming of “The Jungle Trail,” starring actor William Farnum, which featured many local “actors” and a set designed as a Hindu Temple, which became the inspiration for the most distinctive home in Spring Garden.
Spring Garden attracted professionals and business owners. In 1924, with homes arising in varying styles along tree-shaded streets, Seybold added to his holdings with his Country Club Addition subdivision, named for a nearby golf course.
In the expansive period following World War II, Spring Garden experienced significant new construction. While many of Miami’s business and civic leaders called it home, threats to the cohesiveness of the neighborhood arose with plans to build an east-west extension of Metrorail through it, and the construction of tall buildings on its perimeter. Accordingly, in 1997, residents applied for—and gained—local historic designation for Spring Garden. Today’s Spring Garden continues to represent a special slice of Miami enhanced by proud homeowners who take great care of their properties. Two waterfront parks now add to its allure.