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Versace Mansion Casa Casuarina

Casa Casuarina was built in 1930 by architect, philanthropist, author and political reformer Alden Freeman as an homage to the oldest existing house in the western hemisphere, the "Alcazar de Colon" in Santo Domingo. The Alcazar was home to Christopher Columbus' son Diego in 1510. Freeman chose to use it as inspiration because of his life-long veneration of Christopher Columbus. Indeed, one of the Casa's cornerstones contains original brick from the "Alcazar de Colon". A three story structure with a Spanish style inner courtyard, the Casa contained 22 apartments. It quickly became home to Freeman's mostly artistic group of friends, which included the brother of the dancer Isadora Duncan. In 1937, after Freeman's death, Casa Casuarina was bought by Jacques Amsterdam, who promptly renamed it "The Amsterdam Palace." Once again operated as an apartment house, its tenants continued to come from the artistic world, attracted to the building as an architectural curiosity. In 1992, on a trip to Miami, world-renowned couturier Gianni Versace encountered Casa Casuarina for the first time. Although it had fallen into great disrepair, Versace fell in love with it and purchased the residence. Versace made substantial changes to the property. He exquisitely restored, expanded, and embellished its features. The south wing, the pool and garden areas are all Versace's additions, made possible after he bought and demolished the adjacent hotel. The result was a grandiose rococo folly of Spanish and Italian design, and the Casa soon gained international fame. Telecom Executive Peter Loftin bought the Casa in September 2000, after Versace's tragic death. Owning Casa Casuarina had been a long-held dream and he dedicated himself to both preserving its history and bringing vibrant new life to the house. While Mr. Loftin has made no structural changes to the house, he has done extensive work to preserve its architectural history. He restored all of the interior walls and brought back the opulent style of Versace with lavish furniture and details. Casa Casuarina has been a members-only Private Club since the renovations were completed. Now it is operated as a Luxury Boutique Hotel where discriminating visitors can relax in a style heretofore available only to a priveleged few