A Charming Slice of History……

Cauley Square is an enclave of historic homes converted into shops and restaurants on Highway 1 S (S. Dixie Highway) between Miami and Homesetad, FL

As part of my freelance career, I usually do one or two articles for our weekly local newspaper with my focus on human interest and restaurant reviews. Those two aren’t actually as dissimilar as they may seem because what I look for is the story behind the restaurant with the food in a supporting role. Although the town and surrounding area has grown considerably in the past ten years (caught in the housing bubble burst, but grown nonetheless), there are still small-town elements that are appealing to we non-city dwellers. With that said, the town is coming up on our centennial celebration (if I have any readers from places like Williamsburg, Philadelphia and Boston, you can quit snickering now), and so I’ve been out gathering stories from residents about families and places of historical interest. Again, for those of us who have strolled the streets of Paris, London, Rome, etc., a hundred years of history is a blink of an eye, but it is a fun project for me.

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

8 thoughts on “A Charming Slice of History……

  1. Last year in Sept I had my truck and camper stleon while I was on vacation. I was having dinner with my X and my daughter in Montana’s Ranch House on the By-Pass Road in Langley B.C. We were in there for 1 1/4 hrs. and it was broad daylight. The RCMP recovered my truck without the camper on it in Mission BC the next day. All my camera gear was there. I was insured and all replaced except for the irreplaceable stuff. Well I just got a call from the Langley RCMP and they got my camera on a search warrant. I get first dibbs when the insurance company sells it. I guess they do, (the RCMP)do something once in awhile. I did get out with my 40D for awhile. It was -26 C and I took a to light a jacket so did not spend to much time outside. I posted the owl above. I do not know what kind it is.

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