During the creation and development of the city of Miami Beach, Carl Graham Fisher – known as a real estate investor and developer – decided to focus on a new island located at the intersection of Biscayne Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.
The 216-acre island was purchased by Carl Graham Fisher in 1919 from the black millionaire Dana A. Dorsey who had purchased the island from Hermann B. Walker a year before. Fisher’s purchase was made possible soon after Dorsey’s plan to transform the island into a beach resort that would be exclusive to black people did not push through as planned.
Fisher initially called the island Harbor Terminal Island and immediately brought about a new corporation called the Peninsula Terminal Company which would begin building deep-water docks for a seaport. However, political and legal issues stood in the way of plans and led to a battle that would continue on into the 1960s.
A decade and a half before Fisher’s death, he came across William Kissam Vanderbilt II who was the eldest son of William K. Vanderbilt. Due to his desire for Vanderbilt’s 250-foot yacht called Eagle and Vanderbilt’s desire for the property located along the Atlantic Ocean, they decided to make a deal to trade in a portion of the island in exchange for the yacht.
In 1924, the country’s richest sportsman had set out to develop a $1.5 million retreat on the southeastern section of the island. It was designed by Mauricio Fatio and had Mediterranean-style architecture with imported English oak, Victorian mahogany paneling, and marble fireplaces which would make the ocean-facing mansion one of the most sophisticated features on the island.
Once done, Vanderbilt had surrounded the mansion with beautiful landscaping, guest cottages, and facilities such as a lap pool, sea plane bay, and a slip which was going to be used for his private yacht. He also installed an electric power plant and pumping station to allow for the comforts of modern living.
Over the years, Vanderbilt and his second wife had hosted numerous parties within the mansion and it had become well-recognized for its luxurious appeal which was unlike anything anyone had seen before.
In 1926, the city of Miami Beach had been devastated by a hurricane called Alva Base. But the Vanderbilt Estate remained in tact despite the strength of the natural calamity.
Fisher eventually lost his wealth during the Great Depression and decided to sell off the majority of the remaining areas on the island to Vanderbilt along with 10 acres to Sinclair Oil Company and another 10 acres to the United States government.
In 1943, after the death of Vanderbilt, the title had been transferred for $500,000 to Edward Small Moore who was an executive at the National Biscuit Company. After only three years, Garfield Wood managed to take the title and maintain ownership up until 1963 when a group purchase was made by Richard Nixon, Bebe Rebozo, George Smathers, and five other wealthy individuals. Wood had remained on the island until 1970.
As time went by, Bebe Rebozo’s nephew William had joined in with Mutual Benefit Life of New Jersey to plan the further development of the island into a residential community after which John Melk, followed by Joseph Kay, purchased the remaining Developer Interest.
Today, the final touches of complete the project are being arranged by Fisher Island Holdings, LLC. The remaining 200 condominium units that were initially intended for the community will be built in the very near future. The finished outcome of the full development project will be limited to 878 residential units in total.
Contact us to learn more about the fascinating history of the private island community that offers the most amazing waterfront luxury lifestyle within South Florida today, Fisher Island.