National Park Service U.S. Department of the Interior

National Register of Historic Places Program
Weekly Highlight: William Jennings Bryan House
Miami-Dade County, Florida

The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of the Nation's historic places worthy of preservation. Authorized by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Park Service's National Register of Historic Places is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect America's historic and archeological resources.


[photo] of highlighted property

William Jennings Bryan (1860-1925) was a brilliant orator and statesman, considered by many as one of the greatest speakers of the 20th century. A two-time Democratic Congressman from Lincoln, Nebraska, he was nominated for the office of the presidency by the Democrats in 1896, 1900, and 1908. He lost these national elections to Republican candidates William McKinley in 1896 and 1900, and William Howard Taft in 1908. Bryan served as Secretary of State under President Woodrow Wilson from 1913 until 1915, when he resigned in disagreement with President Wilson’s policies that led to U.S. involvement in World War I. He was still at the height of his political career that William and his wife Mary Elizabeth built a winter house in Miami in 1913, which they named Villa Serena. Following his retirement from national politics, they made Villa Serena their permanent place of residence, where he made a contribution to the development of Miami, touting the virtues of south Florida, promoting tourism and the development of Coral Gables and contributing to the founding of the University of Miami. A populist, pacifist, prohibitionist, anti-imperialist and man of strong moral and religious convictions, Bryan became known in his later career when, as a fervent opponent of Darwinism and the teaching of evolution in the nation’s schools, he served as a prosecutor during the famous 1925 Scopes Trial in Tennessee. The trail pitted Bryan against Clarence Darrow, who defended teacher John Scopes. Bryan won the case and Scopes was found guilty, although the State Supreme Court later reversed the decision and Scopes went free. William Jennings Bryan died five days after the trial ended.

The William Jennings Bryan House is a two-story, Mediterranean Revival residence, built of reinforced concrete and faced in smooth stucco. Built on a two-acre plot of land, the house has a U-shaped ground plan, four two-story corner towers, arranged in symmetrical wings around a central courtyard. The house is among the last of the remaining waterfront mansions that once lined Miami’s Brickell Avenue in the early days of the 20th century, when the area was known as “Millionaires Row.”

To read the full file the William Jennings Bryan House.

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