The other day I was sent to Cauley Square, a charming enclave of shops and restaurants set within ten acres of beautifully landscaped grounds. It’s origins began in 1903 with a railroad siding where a wealthy farmer (William Cauley) literally created a village to support shipping operations for his produce. According to the stories, it wasn’t charming back then and a series of events caused it to fall into decline until the county planned to demolish it. Mary Anne Ballard, a woman who had built her own Interior Design business, and was an advocate for the arts and history, stepped in and purchased the property. In addition to saving the original two-story stone building, she had the idea of gathering a number of the wooden houses that had been hand-built by early families and converting those into shops and a restaurant.
She did that with great success and worked to get Cauley Square declared as a Historical Site. After her death, however, financial problems loomed, and now comes a delightful development. Frances Varela, a woman who came from Honduras 42 years ago, spent her life in construction. She grew to love the area so much that she decided to buy all of Cauley Square and spent ten years making it even better than it was. There are 25 structures, mostly these old houses that are now shops, with two restaurants and a pleasant outdoor Latin Cafe. Frances made certain that the sidewalks were wide enough for wheelchairs and it is truly a lovely place to meander. I take visitors there all the time and I loved hearing how two women from completely different backgrounds were the ones who created and have kept the place going.
Cauley Square is on Highway 1 (South Dixie Highway), en route to Homestead and the Florida Keys. That’s Cauley Square at 22400 Old Dixie Highway, Tel: (305) 258-3543; www.cauleysquare.com