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Fisher Island Commemorates 100-Year History

FISHER ISLAND, Fla.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--

It was a century ago, back in 1919 when toasters began popping up across the nation and a moonwalk was not even on the radar of possibilities. Americans were starting to fall in love with their Model T cars.

Indeed, this was the moment when automobile entrepreneur and real estate impresario Carl Fisher purchased the 21-acre island off the coast of Miami Beach from banker and philanthropist Dana A. Dorsey, Miami’s first African American millionaire. Fisher was among the many automobile magnates, like Harvey Firestone, and John Hertz, who wintered in Miami Beach at the time. Fisher not only co-invented Prest-O-Lite, making night driving possible, he also pioneered major US thoroughfares like the Lincoln and Dixie Highways.

The island, originating from the creation of government cut which allowed greater access to the seaport, also served as an oil tanker refueling station. It soon became the winter estate of William and Rosamund Vanderbilt after Carl Fisher — in what might have been one of the worst real estate deals ever — traded the island for Vanderbilt’s 250 ft. yacht, The Eagle. As fate will have it, the island today, has been recognized by Bloomberg as the wealthiest zip code in the United States.

Fisher Island has withstood the tests of time and today is home to one of the most exclusive private resort communities and hotels in the world, the Fisher Island Club — which is recognized as the epitome of ultra-luxury travel and hospitality. The tropical paradise, among the most private communities in the world, remains only accessible by motor yacht and ferry. It’s award winning boutique hotel and historic Vanderbilt Mansion have long been favored by business leaders, royalty, heads of state, professional athletes and celebrities.

This December, Fisher Island warmly celebrates both the centenary of its birth – and its glorious past — with a series of events sponsored by Bentley Motors Limited, Azimut Benetti Americas, VistaJet and Graff. Gatherings both intimate and grand will pay homage to the Island’s unique and storied history. Eagerly anticipated activities include a cocktails & croquet lawn party, vintage and late-model Bentley automobile displays, as well as historic walking lectures on the island’s history by noted historian, Dr. Paul George. The crescendo takes place on Dec. 10 with a lavish Gatsby-inspired celebration, complete with scintillating Graff diamonds.

"Fisher Island’s centennial celebrates our illustrious history along with our aspirations for our future families and generations to come,” said Bernard Lackner, President & CEO of Fisher Island Club. We look forward to commemorating this moment in time with a full slate of nostalgic Club activities.

A Century of Fisher Island

A little over 15 years after Carl Fisher first traded his yacht for Fisher Island, William K. Vanderbilt debuted his $1.5 million private island retreat in 1936. At its center is a Mediterranean-style mansion designed by famed architect Maurice Fatio – a Swiss-born talent renowned for creating storied Manhattan and South Florida residences for moguls like Edward Hutton and David Rockefeller, along with luxurious landmarks like Palm Beach’s famed Brazilian Court Hotel.

Along with his wife, Vanderbilt spent many years lavishly entertaining the luminaries of that era within his Fatio compound, which featured lush, verdant landscaping, gracious guest homes, an opulent entertainment theater, a seaplane hangar, tennis courts and swimming pools. After Vanderbilt's death in 1944, ownership of the island passed to a number of notable buyers including U.S. Steel heir Edward Moore. Two years later, Garfield Wood – who famously invented the hydraulic lift in 1911 at the age of 31 – purchased Fisher Island. Wood was an avid speedboat enthusiast who retained the island’s Vanderbilt-era design to use as a single-family retreat.

Throughout the latter half of the 20th century, Fisher Island passed through additional ownership structures until the turn of the millennium, when Fisher Island Club Equity members took control of the club and its properties.

Through the years, its caretakers have meticulously safeguarded the history and splendor of Fisher Island. In 2013, the property underwent a comprehensive six-year/$60 million renovation project. The massive overhaul included a thoughtful restoration and updating of the island’s historic Vanderbilt Mansion, new luxury hotel accommodations in the original guest cottages and staff rooms, and improvements to the golf course, tennis center, spa & fitness center, beach club and private marinas, as well as other key facilities. The Vanderbilt Mansion has also become a premier culinary destination with four separate restaurants that provide delectable creations and unsurpassed service.

We think Willie would approve…

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