The History of El Portal
The Village of El Portal is a secluded, modern Garden of Eden that encompasses barely a square mile. It was incorporated on December 6, 1937, A.D. at the residence of H. H. Filer. There were 25 homes that were included in this incorporation of El Portal. The Village was incorporated by 34 out of 41 votes. Mr. W.O. Robertson was appointed Mayor.
The members of the Women’s Club, formed by Dr. J. McCormick, was very active. They did many public affairs and administrative functions for the council who often were their husbands.
Three divisions united to form the Village of El Portal: Sherwood Forest, El Jardines, and El Portal. Sherwood Forest —a section of El Portal that possesses the most naturally pleasing 75-foot tall oak trees, manatees, and exotic birds and reptiles. The initial vision of El Portal was to make it similar to Coral Gables. The Sherwood Forest House borrows its name from the surrounding subdivision developed by D.C. Clarke during the 1920’s land boom.
The Mound is known for the cave. It is debatable as to who built the cave. Some say the French Huguenots, some say the Tequesta Indians and others say a natural phenomenon. The cave had many uses during the years, including providing a cool place to sit during the summer days. The Indian Mound is one of the highest points in Miami-Dade and its history dates back to the year 600 when ancient Tequesta Indians migrated and settled at the Mound while passing by on the Little River. The Mound was one of the few areas above Water. It was actually six to eight feet higher than it is presently. Miami-Dade County declared the Indian Mound a historic landmark in the 1920s. It was the first such archeological site to carry this honor in the County.
El Portal is a Bird Sanctuary. The many trees provide a large canopy that the birds enjoy. Many exotic bird species have been sighted including the peacocks that may be seen on any given day.
The Radar Memorial United Methodist Church is located on 87th Street and NE Second Avenue. It was formed in 1923. It is one of the oldest churches in Miami-Dade County.
An Arch, known as: “the gate,” may have stood at 85th Street and NE Second Avenue. It was made out of wire and wood and had two Robin Hood type figures on each side.
The oldest home in El Portal is truly a formidable sight to behold. It was moved from its original location off of Biscayne Boulevard in 1910. This house had several uses over the years from entertaining to acting once as a medical clinic back in the 1930s.
Trailblazers in El Portal
Clerow “Flip” Wilson was a well-known comedian and actor. Mr. Wilson became famous while serving in the United States Air Force. He was asked to tour military bases to cheer up other servicemen. His barrack mates gave him the nickname “Flip” stating that he was always “flipped out”.
Garth Reeves was the owner of the newspaper The Miami Times. His home was always known for its beautiful landscaping.
Betty Wright is a soul and R&B singer. Her mother: Rose, her sister Jeanette and brother Phillip are longtime residents of El Portal. The part of Ms. Betty Wright’s song that mentions her mom saying, “I know that you’re not going to sing that song” (“Tonight is the Night”) occurred while Ms. Betty Wright was at home in El Portal.
In December 2002, the Village of El Portal voted to change from a council form of government to a Council-Manager form of government. On January 28, 2003, the Village Council voted unanimously to appoint Newall Daughtrey as its first Village Interim Manager.
The beautiful Village of El Portal values nature and takes pride in being diverse and peaceful. As we move forward, in the 21st century, we’re preparing to face the challenges of a small village and at the same time remain connected to our past and true to the values that make El Portal—“The Gate”.
El Portal in the News
- El Portal: a hamlet haven, right in the city
- Retired Taekwondo instructor creates winning design in El Portal logo contest – Miami Herald
- El Portal: An encounter with nature, the sacred and our past – SFLStyle
- Best Neighborhood to Buy Real Estate (2015) – New Times
- 2015 Public Space Challenge Winner – Nature Trail Community Park