1920s Mansion on the Move: Collins Estate Lifted and Relocated in Miami Beach

Read Time: 4 mins
Background: Part of the Collins Estate at 5011 Pine Tree Drive on the move, Thursday, June 29th, 2023. Foreground: Rendering of completed project.

On Thursday, June 29th, MDPL board members and Miami Beach stakeholders gathered at 5011 Pine Tree Drive to witness a special “house moving” event. MDPL’s Center for Resiliency & Sustainability program seeks to develop and promote unique approaches to climate change resiliency to protect historic buildings and neighborhoods.

John S. Collins (1837-1928) (image source)

Visitors to the event were able to see a live demonstration of the lifting and moving of a 1920s mansion built by a founding family of Miami Beach.

The Mediterranean mansion, which faces Indian Creek, was designed by Russell Pancoast and belonged to Irving A. Collins, a son of John S. Collins (1837-1928).

John S. Collins was known for establishing the Miami Beach Improvement Company, which helped develop the city and built the Collins Bridge across Biscayne Bay, connecting mainland Miami to Miami Beach in 1913. The bridge was later replaced with the Venetian Causeway.

A Special Case of Preservation

5011 Pine Tree Dr
The former Collins Estate (Source: Miami Dade County Property Appraiser)

Because the home lies outside of a local or national historic district, its fate was uncertain and neighbors worried that it could be completely demolished like so many homes of the era that are torn down by speculators today.

Thankfully the property’s owner, entrepreneur Russ Weiner, developed a plan that included building a new home while relocating and reincorporating the original home into the new design. The new home is estimated to be completed within the next three years, while the adaptive reuse and restoration of the historic mansion will take one year.

“I decided to invest a lot of money and time and love into this old home that we’re moving from the 1920s, so we’re going to move it and create a guard house,” said Weiner. “I put a lot of very interesting design elements into this to keep the old world look on the exterior and on the inside we’re going to make it new and fresh. We’ll have the best of both worlds.”

Rendering of the project showing the reincorporation of the original Collins Estate into the north and south wings of the new guard/guest home, while connecting the new structure to the existing boathouse which will be adapted/restored.

Weiner purchased the property in 2021 and his team has since been working with the City of Miami Beach and MDPL to preserve and reintegrate the old property with his future home.

“It’s been over two years of big planning, getting approvals from the city and then you have to find the people that can move a house like this that could plan [it] together. We decided to cut it in two pieces to make it easier to move because it’s 100 years old.”

Entrepreneur and property owner Russ Weiner at the house-moving ceremony

Designer and builder Andrea D’Alessio will be redesigning the restored home as well as the newer home to be constructed at the property.

“John Collins was the innovator of Miami Beach. I’m grateful to be a part of saving a piece of history for Miami Beach,” said D’Alessio.

Speaking to the event’s attendees at the home moving demonstration, MDPL Executive Director Daniel Ciraldo said:

“Hopefully after this, you’ll all go home and say: ‘Hey, there might be hope for these historic buildings.’ But I think what we really need to do is add more incentives to make it more effective for these really amazing entrepreneurial people to come and to save and maybe add something on that will make it all worthwhile.”

Also speaking at the house-moving ceremony, Weiner shared his enthusiasm for Miami Beach as one of the leading cities in the country:

“I brought my golden shovel because the streets of Miami are paved with gold. California used to be the golden state and now it’s Florida. I moved from California like many other people, and this has become one of the best moves of my life. The future of America is Florida, which means that the best city in the world is Miami Beach.”

Check out our highlight video below:

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