Deering Estate

In 2017, the Deering Estate celebrated 30 years of being on the National Register of Historic Places.

From the Paleo Period through the Roaring 20s... and today

From canoe tours to butterfly walks and guided nature hikes, the Deering Estate has diverse activities for the whole family to enjoy. The Estate offers daily tours of the historic houses – the Stone House and Richmond Cottage, as well as tours of the lush natural areas where fossil bones have been found as far back at 50,000-100,000 years. Paleo Indians, Tequestas, Seminoles, Afro-Bahamians, and Anglo-Americans have at different times, lived on the land encompassed by the Estate. Today's visitors can journey through native habitats to visit the Tequesta midden, the Cutler Burial Mound, and walk an ancient Tequesta trail. The Deering Estate's naturalists and guides educate us about human’s interaction with the surrounding native habitats through time and showcase artifacts ranginging from the end of the ice age to those used by Tequesta Indians who thrived in the region for hundreds of years before the Spanish colonial era. 

The Deering Estate is also a cultural and educational facility that features classes and programs for children and adults, teacher training and research opportunities. The Estate serves as a small conference center for community organizations and corporate groups who share Charles Deering’s interest in the environment, botany, history, fine arts, antiques, rare books and wine. Rental of the Estate is available for special social functions, making it a popular south Florida wedding venue. 

Deering Estate is located in the Cutler neighborhood of Palmetto Bay, Florida. The grounds include what is thought to be the largest intact coastal tropical hardwood hammock in the continental United States. The estate was acquired by the State of Florida in 1985, and is part of the Miami-Dade County Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces Department, which manages the property.

A fossil site dating back 100,000 years

The archaeological elements on the Deering Estate represent a comprehensive record of human habitation in South Florida. The Estate grounds are part of the Atlantic Coastal Ridge, which has a rich history dating back 100,000 years. The Cutler Fossil site, located within the 450 acres, contains the fossilized remains from now extinct animals including peccaries, mammoths, sloths, dire wolves, and saber-toothed cats. This site also contains fossilized remains of early human inhabitants from up to 10,000 years ago. Prior to the discovery of the Cutler Fossil Site, most scientists thought human habitation in Florida dated back only 4,000 years, making the Cutler Fossil one of the most archaeologically significant sites in the Eastern United States.

Included on this site, is the Cutler Burial Mound. It is one of the few surviving prehistoric mounds in Miami-Dade County, and is about 38 feet by 20 feet at the base, and about five feet high. Artifacts from the mound are from the Sears' Belle Glades II and III periods (200BCE-1500A.D.) and are attributed mostly to the Tequesta (Tekesta) peoples during the latter part of that timeline. The mound is believed to contain 12 to 18 burials, however it is likely that it originally contained up to three times more. The Cutler Fossil Site, the Midden, and the Cutler Burial Mound are all located in protected natural areas on the property and are only accessible to the public by a Deering Estate Naturalist lead tour.

The 450 acre Estate encompasses globally endangered pine rockland habitat, among the largest blocks of this ecosystem remaining in the United States, as well as coastal tropical hardwood rockland hammocks, mangrove forests, salt marshes, a coastal dune island and the submerged resources of Biscayne Bay. The Estate serves as an outdoor classroom and laboratory for students and scientists. Outside of the Estate, these natural communities continue to disappear at an alarming rate, but within the Deering Estate’s protected boundaries they are studied, restored, enhanced, and cared for by specialists. Rare and native plants thrive here, including orchids, bromeliads, ferns, and more than 40 species of trees. A variety of wildlife, such as gray foxes, spotted skunks, squirrels, snakes, butterflies, and birds inhabit the area. Through our daily Natural Areas Tours, our education and interpretive staff guides visitors through the Estate’s protected habitats.

Around 200 BCE improvements in ancient technology, along with the rich and diverse resources provided by wetlands, hammocks, and coastal ridges, enabled prehistoric populations to expand in size and spread throughout southern Florida. The Miami River served as a link between the interior Everglades, the coast. Proximity to the Everglades, Biscayne Bay, and offshore reefs gave indigenous people access to a bounty of plants and animals for food and raw materials for the production of tools and crafts.

The Tequesta (Tekesta) were a powerful Indian tribe whose main village was at the mouth of the Miami River. What we know about the tribe comes both from Spanish accounts dating to the sixteenth century and archaeology done in recent decades. Like other prehistoric coastal Floridians the Tequesta had no need for agriculture to support a thriving and complex society. Instead, they relied upon their environment, hunting, gathering, and utilizing the rich marine resources of the bays, rivers, and ocean. Fishing was a year-round activity and the archaeology of shell middens shows that the Tequesta caught diverse fishes and marine mammals, including mako shark, swordfish, and right whales. The Tequesta were expert wood carvers, and it is believed that makers of dugout canoes held an honored role. The canoes were used both along the coast, and deep into the Everglades.


Learn the contemporary history of the estate

16701 SW 72nd Ave
Miami, Florida, FL 33157
PHONE: 305-235-1668 ext. 233
HOURS: General admission is $15 for adults and $7 children (ages 4-14) between the hours of 10:00am and 4:00pm, and includes tours of the historic homes and natural areas.

page information credit: The Deering Estate at Cutler, University of Miami, History Miami, Wikipedia
photos from the sources listed above, as well as publicly posted online sites with thanks to the contributors