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By: Jennifer Agress

Prior to the arrival of Henry Flagler’s Florida East Coast (FEC) Railway in 1904, the Homestead area consisted of nothing more than pine trees, palmetto scrubs, farmland and – as its name implies – homesteaders. This new transportation link enabled farmers in the area to bring their homegrown fruits and vegetables all over the state of Florida, thus sparking an agricultural-based economy that led to Homestead’s incorporation in 1913.

Homestead is the second oldest city in Miami-Dade County. Set in the heart of South Dade, Homestead has since become one of Greater Miami & Miami Beach’s thriving communities. In addition to being a major source of tropical fruit, vegetables and plant life, Homestead has a charming downtown area, multiple sites on the National Register of Historic Places, unique shopping, family-friendly activities and tasty restaurants. There are plenty of ways to enjoy the outdoors here. Homestead is the gateway to Everglades National Park and Biscayne National Park. Visit soon and discover Homestead’s interesting history.

Coral Castle
Spend an afternoon at Coral Castle

Coral Castle Museum

Coral Castle Museum is one man’s unique monument to his fiancée , who broke off their engagement just one day before their wedding. Without any assistance, and using only hand tools, the 100-pound Ed Leedskalnin spent 28 years cutting and moving more than 1,100 tons of coral rock to build the castle. It has a sculpture garden, a nine-ton gate that moves with the touch of a finger, a Polaris telescope and usable rocking chairs, all made entirely out of coral rock. 28655 S. Dixie Highway, Homestead, FL 33033

Faust House

Faust House was built in the 1920s during Florida’s real estate boom. The Mission Revival-style house was constructed from a single-story wood frame, covered with roughly textured stucco and topped with a flat roof hidden behind a curved parapet. It was built as the home of Thomas Faust, a West Virginia resident who moved to Homestead and eventually became secretary and treasurer of Fuchs Bakery, which would go on to become the Holsum Bread Company. 69 NW 4th St., Homestead, FL 33030

Florida Pioneer Museum

In the early 20th century, life in South Dade was very different than it is today, as the Florida Pioneer Museum in Florida City displays. This historic gem is loaded with exhibits of books, photographs and artifacts stemming from South Dade’s early pioneering days. You’ll see crop harvesting tools, photos of prominent families at the time, and exhibits centered around the Upper Florida Keys, Henry Flagler’s Key West Extension and South Dade’s earliest settlers: Native Americans. 826 N. Krome Ave., Florida City, FL 33034

Historic Homestead Town Hall Museum

Homestead’s first Town Hall, now the Historic Homestead Town Hall Museum, was designed by Miami architect H. Hastings Mundy and built in 1917. The original building held many of the newly incorporated city’s municipal services, such as a fire department, fire engines, a hose-drying room, the local police station, jail cells, leadership offices and a meeting room. It functioned as the town hall until 1975. In 1988, the local council voted to tear down the original building and replace it with a parking lot. Their efforts came to a halt after passionate Homestead residents and town preservationists protested and won a state-funded grant to restore the building and keep it standing for the foreseeable future. Today, the Historic Homestead Town Hall Museum has photographs, artifacts and exhibits celebrating major events in Homestead’s past, like its early years, the devastating effects of Hurricane Andrew, the extension of the Florida East Coast Railway, a 1924 American LaFrance fire truck and more. 41 N. Krome Ave., Homestead, FL 33030

Hotel Redland

This landmark, which opened in 1904 as the Homestead Inn, is Homestead’s oldest building. The inn functioned as a general supply store, rooming house and the city’s first post office until it burned down in 1913, tragically killing many of its guests. It later reopened and became Hotel Redland in 1934. After Hurricane Andrew in 1992, the hotel went through a total renovation to restore it to its original glory. Visit the hotel today and you’ll see that it retains the same look and feel of its humble 1904 beginnings, with early wood frame vernacular architecture, a large wraparound porch and delicate gingerbread detailing. You might stumble upon those unfortunate guests from 1913, too – ghost hunters have confirmed that they still “visit” the haunted hotel. 5 S. Flagler Ave., Homestead, FL 33030

Knaus Berry Farm

After the hurricane of 1926 ended Miami’s first real estate boom, brothers Jess and Harley Knaus, who had moved to Florida from Missouri for construction work, brought their farming roots to Miami. Their 80-acre vegetable farm was quite successful. Fast-forward to 1956, when Jess’s two sons, Russell and Ray, took an interest in the family farm and started picking and selling strawberries. When one of their brokers tried Ray’s wife’s cookies, he told her she should try to sell them. With that, a bakery was born. Officially opened in 1959, Knaus Berry Farm is nationally recognized for its gooey and delicious cinnamon rolls, homegrown vegetables, delectable baked goods, and milkshakes made with fresh strawberries. It is currently run by Ray’s daughters, Rachel and Susan, and their husbands. Knaus Berry Farm is famously only open from November to mid-April. It’s not uncommon to see guests lining up around the block to get in. 15980 SW 248th St., Homestead, FL 33031

Landmark Hotel

Built in Miami in 1912, the Landmark Hotel building was known in its early years as the Airdome Theatre, an open-air movie house where patrons watched silent films at night on outdoor benches. Later renamed the Colonial Theater, it was disassembled in 1916 and brought by railroad to Homestead. From 1919 to 1936, it served as the original Seminole Theatre until a full-scale renovation turned the building into a 26-room hotel and restaurant. It was named the Landmark Hotel in 1965, when new owners bought the historic property. 55 S. Flagler Ave., Homestead, FL 33030

Lily Lawrence Bow Library

When the new location of the Homestead Library was built in 1939, it was renamed the Lily Lawrence Bow Library in honor of Homestead’s first librarian, who was also a policewoman and accomplished musician, artist and poet. The building is made out of native oolitic rock and hand-hewn Dade County pine, and was dedicated by United States Senator Claude Pepper. Today, this building houses the offices of Homestead’s Community Redevelopment Agency. 212 NW 1st Ave., Homestead, FL 33030

Lindeman-Johnson House

The architect of this 1923 Mediterranean-style dwelling was H. George Fink, the first cousin of Coral Gables developer George Merrick. Fink is credited with playing a key role in the look of Coral Gables, as he was one of the most prolific designers of Mediterranean-style homes and buildings during his lifetime. Fink built this Homestead house for just $10,900. It first belonged to Frank Lindeman, who later sold it to Howard L. Johnson, both of whom were prominent Homestead pharmacists at the time. 906 N. Krome Ave., Homestead, FL 33030

Seminole Theater
Visit the historic Seminole Theatre

Seminole Theatre

This historic performing arts venue and movie theater has a storied past. Originally built in 1921, it burned down in a devastating fire in 1940 and was rebuilt with an Art Deco façade. While financial troubles caused it to close its doors in 1979, the real blow came in 1992, when Hurricane Andrew left the theater in ruins. Following a complete renovation and expansion in 2015, the restored Seminole Theatre is now a cherished performing arts center in Homestead’s downtown historic district. It has a new north wing, a south building and a completely renovated interior. Visitors can go there for a robust calendar of music and theater performances and educational opportunities for all ages. 18 N. Krome Ave., Homestead, FL 33030

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