Source: WLRN Public Radio and Television


During the land boom of the 1920s, visionary developer George Merrick launched his dream of creating America’s first fully planned community, Coral Gables – known as the “Miami Riviera.”  This exclusive and historic enclave would only be built with the know-how and hard labor of Bahamian and African American workers, yet their story is hardly known.  Behind the grand gates of Coral Gables is the MacFarlane Homestead Historic District, developed as a black residential neighborhood by Merrick, where many Bahamian immigrants built homes that have been in their families for generations.

GRACEFUL VOICES captures the stories and life experiences of nine Bahamian and African American women who were born there, forged lifelong friendships, and developed a passion for their community. This powerful and sentimental chronicle sheds light on the history that is still being built by the descendants of those workers from nearly a century ago. Many of these determined ladies still live in the homes their fathers built and are fighting to keep their culture alive as well as save their historic neighborhood. They stuck together as a community through segregation and injustice to force change. Their story is one of perseverance, love, survival, and respect.

Land for the MacFarlane Homestead Subdivision was purchased in 1925 and the first houses were contructed in 1926.  St. Marys Baptist Chruch, a focal point in the community was built that same year.  Most of the houses were built between 1926 and 1939.  The private residences within the MacFarlane Homestead Subdivision were built with a wood frame vernaculaur type of architecture not seen elsewhere in Coral Gables.

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