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Coral Gables Historic Home is set for auction

December 8th, 2011 Written By Carol Pawley

Upon his death, a Coral Gables man left his historic home to the federal government. 

A recently deceased homeowner in Coral Gables left his historic home to the federal government, which will be auctioning off the house on Saturday.

The home belonged to James H. Davidson Jr., who lived in the home since he was a teenager and who died childless last year.

Built in 1929, the home was officially designated a historic landmark in November by the Historic Preservation Board of Coral Gables.

The Davidson family owned the property since 1938 until Davidson’s death in December 2010. He was 87.

The Miami-Dade property appraiser’s office values the two-story, Spanish-style home at 1248 Coral Way at just over $700,000. But because it is an auction, interested buyers are expected to flock to the property to try and snatch the house at a lower than market value price.

The average list price for similar homes for sale in that area is $1.2 million, according to the real estate website Trulia.

Property records show that the U.S. government officially acquired the property in May for $100, although those familiar with the transaction say Davidson left the property to Uncle Sam in his will.

George Richards—owner of the company that will be auctioning off the house, National Auction Company—said that about 400 people have already visited the house. The house will be open for visitors everyday until the auction on Saturday.

The home was constructed by Ambrose Becker, a man instrumental in the development of Coral Gables in the 1920s and 1930s.

Gables pioneer George Merrick himself credited Becker for reviving interest in the city after the real estate bust of the late 1920’s.

“George Merrick has said that if he (Merrick) were responsible for the foundation of ‘Coral Gables,’ Ambrose Becker deserved equal praise in its rebirth,” according to the Historic Resource Department’s report on the property.

Daniel Redfearn, a prominent lawyer in the area at the time, was the home’s first owner.

In 1938, J.H. and Frances Davidson purchased the home and their son occupied his death last year.

The property occupies four plots of land that amount to a little less than an acre. The actual house sits on about half of the land and is 3,900-square-feet with six bedrooms and five bathrooms.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office, which is represented the United States government in probate court, would not comment.

It is unclear why Davidson, who never married, decided to name the U.S. government as the beneficiary to his property in his will. He served in the military and briefly worked for Miami-Dade government, according to his nephew, David Harum.

Harum, said the news came as a surprise to the family, including a number of nieces and nephews in the area.

“We in the family found it highly unusual,” Harum said.


The auction will take place at 11 a.m. on

Saturday, Dec. 10 at the property,

1248 Coral Way.



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