7 remaining buildings tell Stiltsville's unique story

Historic homes all that are left of Stiltsville lifestyle

MIAMI - A collection of party pads and fishing camps, Stiltsville has survived hurricanes, prohibition and even the federal government.  

Seven structures still grace the water of Key Biscayne. 

"It's a one-of-a-kind place," said Miami historian Dr. Paul George. 

Photos: Stiltsville

Sitting peacefully in the waters off Key Biscayne, the seven colorful houses built on concrete supports are like no other place on earth. 

"It's such a beautiful place when you are out there to enjoy a sunset or fish or take it easy," George said. 

Fishing shacks and private clubs started popping up out there in the 1920s and ‘30s. 

"It became a real Miami place where these old-timers, many attorneys, judges, what have you, they used this as a weekend getaway, summer getaways to fish, party, to raise hell, whatever," George said. 

In the 1940s, Life Magazine profiled the Quarterdeck Club, showcasing a one-of-kind lifestyle, including fishing from bed.  Historians said all kinds of parties happened there.  

By 1960 there were 27 houses in the Biscayne Channel. 

Hurricanes battered the homes over the years, and today, just seven remain. 

In the 1980s and ‘90s, the federal government wanted to take out the rest, when the area became part of Biscayne National Park. Protests and posturing followed, and finally lease holders and the feds compromised. 

The former owners are maintaining the structures. George said the federal government doesn't have the resources to do it. 

So it's kind of a limbo situation, but they are still standing. As for how long, nobody really knows.  

The Park Service said that if any of the Stiltsville homes are more than 50 percent damaged, they will be torn down.

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