Historic Miami Beach murals, slated for demolition, saved in the nick of time

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – Preservationists hoping to save a set of decades-old Miami Beach murals depicting scenes of United States history have scored a major win.

The intricate mosaics were slated to be demolished along with the rest of the Wells Fargo building at the corner of Lincoln and Alton roads in South Beach to make way for a hotel.

But in the nick of time, rather than meeting a bulldozer, the delicate artwork was instead being handled with care Tuesday. Now, it’s heading off to storage.

Daniel Ciraldo, executive director of the Miami Design Preservation League, said the murals will be put in storage until preservationists can find them a new home.

“We’re so thankful that these murals of the American flag are being saved,” Ciraldo said.

Artist Enzo Gallo created the murals in 1971.

His son, Dr. Julio Gallo, said the murals depict the American Dream and were created for the international community of Miami Beach. His body of work includes several monumental sculptures. His Christopher Columbus sculpture is at Port Everglades and stained-glass windows, which he designed are at Temple Beth-David in Miami.

The Miami Design Preservation League has been sounding the alarm about the fate of the artwork for years. Local 10 News first reported the fate of the murals in 2015, when the demolition plan was confirmed.

CitizenM, the hotel company developing the new property, is paying for some of the cost of the work.

“(We) are consulting with our collaborators, our contractor Americaribe, the Miami Design Preservation League, and their art conservation consultant RLA to determine available options for the 1971 Enzo Gallo mosaic murals,” a company spokesperson said in a statement.

As questions linger over where the murals will end up permanently, the Miami Beach city commission is set to discuss the issue at its meeting Wednesday.


About the Authors:

Janine Stanwood joined Local 10 News in February 2004 as an assignment editor. She is now a general assignment reporter. Before moving to South Florida from her Washington home, Janine was the senior legislative correspondent for a United States senator on Capitol Hill.

Chris Gothner joined the Local 10 News team in 2022 as a Digital Journalist.