Vizcaya Museum & Gardens | Miami tours and sightseeing
James Deering (1859–1925) was a retired millionaire and a bachelor in his early fifties when who undertook the tremendous challenge to build an elaborate European-style estate in South Florida. Mr. Deering was afflicted with pernicious anemia, a condition for which doctors recommended sunshine and a warm climate: Vizcaya became the place where he planned to restore his health. He loved both sailing and boating— consequently, he owned three yachts—and was extremely interested in landscaping as well as plant conservation. Both hobbies were to play an eminent role in designing of the historical Vizcaya estate. The project began modestly, but quickly it grew to become the favorite pastime during the last years of Deering’s life.
James Deering was born in South Paris, Maine, was the son of William Deering and William's second wife, Clara Hammond Deering. William Deering, who had inherited a family woolen mill, invested in land in the western United States and subsequently financially backed the development of agricultural machinery to make his property more valuable. In 1873, he packed up and moved his family to Illinois where he assumed control of a farm equipment manufacturer, renaming it the Deering Harvester Company. Deering Harvester enabled farmers to harvest an acre of grain in an hour—a dramatic increase in productivity that allowed commercial agriculture in the West to be more profitable. As more reapers were sold, Deering’s land investments grew in value, and, by the end of the nineteenth century, the Deerings had become one of America’s wealthiest families.