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Don Boyd | all galleries >> Memories of Old Hialeah, Old Miami and Old South Florida Photo Galleries - largest non-Facebook collection on the internet >> Miami and Florida AVIATION Historical Photos Gallery - Airports, Airlines, Aircraft - All Years - click on image to view > 1940's & 50's - The Aviation Building, formerly the Fritz Hotel, home of National Airlines and Embry-Riddle School of Aviation
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1940s & 50s - The Aviation Building, formerly the Fritz Hotel, home of National Airlines and Embry-Riddle School of Aviation
1940s-50s Courtesy of Bill Long, HHS '59

1940's & 50's - The Aviation Building, formerly the Fritz Hotel, home of National Airlines and Embry-Riddle School of Aviation

3240 NW 27th Avenue, Miami, Florida view map


This large building was located at 3240 NW 27th Avenue due east of runway 9/27 at Miami International Airport which is seen in the middle of the top of the photo. Construction of the Fritz Hotel began by the M. R. Harrison Construction Company in 1925 but the hotel was only three-fourths completed in 1927. Construction stopped due to the Great Depression.

Fritz Hotel and Hen House days: in 1933 Ripley's Believe It or Not had a cartoon of the building titled "A Million Dollar Hen House" published, stating that the Fritz Hotel - a huge unfinished hostelry in Miami - was used solely for raising chickens and eggs, and it holds about 60,000 laying guests. The company found use for the building as a hen house temporarily.

Embry-Riddle School of Aviation, owned by John Paul Riddle and local Miami attorney John G. McKay, was busy training pilots at several locations including Miami Municipal Airport (LeJeune Road and NW 108th Street) and started a Technical Division to train mechanics. They moved that division in November 1940 into the south wing of the Fritz Hotel. By 1941 Embry-Riddle used all the available space in the structure and renamed it to the "Aviation Building." The Embry-Riddle spaces included executive offices, classrooms, military barracks, workshops, a cafeteria, library and clinic. Courses were held seven days and five evenings a week on aeronautical engineering and aircraft maintenance, and 15-week specialized courses on welding, radio, electricity, and sheet metal were offered. A very interesting article about the early days of Embry-Riddle School of Aviation, with comments about their seaplane base in Miami, is located at: http://www.eraualumni.org/s/867/index.aspx?sid=867&gid=1&pgid=915

And according to Captain Dave Amos, USCG Retired, in his comments below, National Airlines had their corporate offices in the building until they moved to Miami International Airport offices in the 1960's. Dave also describes other businesses that were in the building and I thank him for enlightening us with the additional information.


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Pharmk258 13-Apr-2014 10:34
Your goal is to breed all the different dragons available aeeedbe
Guest 07-Jun-2013 19:30
You are mistaken about where the car is crushed in Goldfinger. It was called Atlantic Iron and Steel back in the 50s/60s. If you do a google search 3171 NW North River Drive it will put you right across from the entrance today. The old high block wall fence is still there today, exactly like in the movie. Now it is a storage facility for Antillean Lines. If you travel east from there about three blocks you will see the tanks that are in the openning scene of Goldfinger. Yes I remember there was a big scrap iron yard in Opa Locka Blvd like you wrote, but not the one in the movie.
Guest 30-May-2013 10:34
Robert, you are correct about the oil tanks and where they were located. The scrap yard scene in Goldfinger wherein the car was crushed was and still is in Opa-Locka on the south side of Opa-Locka Blvd. (NW 135 Street) and 32 Ave just on the east side of the CSX railroad tracks.
Don Boyd29-May-2013 13:32
Robert, thank you for posting your great recollections of growing up in the area around the Aviation Building. It's details like yours that help people to learn what life was like back in the good old days of Miami.

Don
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Robert 28-May-2013 22:34
In the 1960's we used to sneak into the aviation building and ride the freight elevator. I remember there being some kind of clothing factory on the bottom floor. At the time it had the giant ball at the top of the tower, some kind of radar apparatus. In the photo the northwest corner butt the playground of Melrose Elementary School that had not been built yet. The lot north of the playground is where the school was built. I went there from the 2-6 grades. The large building at the top northwest corner is the Jai Alai Fronton at 3500 NW 37th Avenue. I used to shine shoes there in the 1960’s. I lived down from the Atlantic Iron & Steel that was shone in the Goldfinger movie. As a matter of fact something a lot of people don’t know is the scene at the opening of the movie that shows the large oil tanks were located just down the street from Atlantic Iron & Steel scrap yard. It was located on North River Drive and 29 Avenue and across the street was the Miami River which also ran behind the junk yard. We used to play around those tanks. We would get in through the railroad tracks that ran behind them. Those were wonderful days in the Miami before the invasion.
Don Boyd27-Dec-2012 21:33
C. L. Dunham: no sir, no relationship to the Boyd Hardware, but thank you for asking. Can you tell us more about growing up in Miami when you did? There's a bunch of us who would really like to hear more from you, and other old-timers, about what life was like way back when.

Don
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Don Boyd27-Dec-2012 21:30
This comment was received on an inappropriate page and I am reposting it here since the photo is of the former Fritz Hotel:
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C.L.Durham c-pdurham@embarqmail.com 04-Dec-2012 03:40

This is C.L. Durham. Our family rented a house from Mr.Fritz at 2760 N.W.31 street.Mr. Fritz built the Fritz Hotel. His children also owned a tree/shrub nursery and a barber shop. There was a Boyd Hardware at the corner of 31 Street and 27 avenue-any relationship Don?

I attended Andrew Jackson Junior High School and Graduated from Miami High School. My dad worked for the City Of Miami Police Dept.
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miket4628-Aug-2012 15:48
From 1959 to 1964 I passed the " Million dollar chicken coop" twice a day on my way to High school. I lived just outside Coral Gabes (In the shadow of the colloseum) to Miami Central High School. I had forgotten about the chicken coop name until I saw the picture here. What great memories.
Mike
Lisa Hoffman 04-Aug-2012 11:07
My late husband's father, Clarence (Bo) Hoffman was an instructor here at Embry Riddle from 1955 to 1962, I believe. He went on to work at Air Tech as an inspector until 1966, when he passed.
John J Masucci29-Sep-2011 14:55
My father (John) had gone to school at Embry-Riddle Aeronautcal College in the late 50's after he completed his enlistment in the USMC. He had a job working as aircraft mechanic for American Airmotive (who maintained the planes for the Hurricane Hunters )on the west end of the Miami Int'l Airport (MIA) and later for Miami based Eastern Air Lines (EAL). Their aircraft hangars were located on the far right upper third background of this photo with the longest runway in MIA dead center ...
Dave AMos 27-Apr-2011 11:34
I lived at the corner of NW 25th Ave and 33rd St and could see the central tower of the Aviation Building from the sidewalk at the corner. My dad worked in the building at the corporate offices of National Airlines from the mid 1940s until National moved into their new building (see photos in the airlines section of this site) at Miami International in the 60s. We lived where we did so Dad could walk to work (2 blocks) and come home for lunch. The building had a big green neon sign on the front that read "AVIATION BUILDING" for as long as I can remember. National Airlines had most of the first floor south (left in the photo) wing, but there were dozens of other businesses there, including Embry-Riddle, a bunch of clothing manufacturers, a barber shop I used to go to, and bunch of machine shops and printers in the basement. I worked for one of the machine shops in the summer between school years owned by Walter Coles, a fine Florida gentleman who taught me all I could learn in three summers of employ about machining metal products. We had a radio club in part of his space which was sponsored by the Junior Deputy Sheriff's League, of which Mr. Coles, as a retired Dade County Sheriff, was an adult sponsor. In my slack time I explored the building, finding my way onto the roof and into the next-to-top level of the central tower from where I could watch air ops at Miami airport, which you can see in the photo's background. Later I worked at a broom and mop factory somewhere in the background north of 36th street, graduated from Miami jackson in '61, and left Miami for the U.S. Coast Guard Academy and subsequent career. Still miss the place.
GEORGE F.ANTONELL 11-Feb-2011 22:16
I WENT TO EMBRY RIDDLE FROM 1957 TO MAY OF 1959 EARNING MY A@P, I STILL
OPERATE MY OWN BUSINESS, CERTIFIED AIRCRAFT REPAIRS LLC IN WARREN,OHIO
GREAT SCHOOL.
Stan Kuschak 23-Oct-2010 23:15
Went to Embry-Riddle in 1953-1954 for A & E. Also attained Commercial Pilot's license during that same period. Hired on with Capital Airlines (DCA) for a couple of years; then USAF; followed by Capt. Eastern Air Lines (JFK & PHL). Retired just before Eastern's untimely demise.
Izquierdo 27-May-2010 17:18
Does anyone know what year the building was demolished? My family moved to 35th street back in 71' and still live there. My mom remebers the building but I don't. I remeber walking home from Melrose Elementary. I also remember my father taking me one morning to see an airplane that had fallen near by. But I don't remember seeing the old building. Looks like it was a very nice neighborhood back then.
Michael foxworth 28-Apr-2010 04:20
My grandparents lived on 33st .If you stood in the middle of the street and faced west you were facing the front door of the building. When I spent the night at my grand parents home in 1963 my grandfather would take me for an adventure. We would walk into the building and take the elevator to the top. I'm not sure, but I think we then took stair one or two floors higher until we arrived at a hallway that had the bathrooms. We would go into the bathroom and look out at the veiw behind the building, over looking the land behind the building with the airport in the distance. It was such a thrill to be so high up, especially for a boy living in a new suburb where there were no structures for miles in any direction that were over one floor except for the screens at the drive inn theater. Oh yeah, there were also constantly prepeller driven jets flying over the top of it. So it was pretty noisy too. The whole house would shake.
Guest 22-Mar-2010 16:05
I used to visit my dad in his shop (the instrument repair department for Pan American Airlines), with my mon to take him his lunch sometimes. I believe it was 1947-48. The place was like an aviation city. Bill Dunstall
Carl gulbrandsen 04-Apr-2009 20:08
We lived several miles north of the Aviation Building in the 1940s 50s and 60s. I remember when it was a chicken house and run-down. I also remembers the hundreds of U.S. Navy personnel training there during World War II. A happy time during the war was riding on 'ole bus #15 out of down town Miami with a load of sailors singing and cutting-up. Yes, I remember the 'ole Fritz Hotel.
Rudy Fasco 31-Aug-2008 04:05
Late 60's, and very early 70's this property was my playground - the hotel was gone by then, and only some smaller buildings remained. I remember finding airplane parts and old bullet cartridges all over the place, which we would explode by striking with metal pipes. Remember, this was WAY before computer games. I think it was in the early 70's that the place was finally completely demolished and the Youth Hall for wayward teenagers was built.
Patricia Wolff-Kenner 08-Aug-2008 18:21
Back in the 70's when this bldg was abandoned, and I was a teenager ... a friend and I climbed all the way to the top (by stairs) and out onto the highest angled roof of the middle tower. We even laid down up there to be funny and thankfully didn't roll off. As we came down we went out onto the lower flat roofs when we discovered the whole back of the building was surrouned by firefighters who were yelling at us that the building was on fire! We escaped the fire and the firefighters by running out the front doors!
Ray12-Jan-2008 17:01
I was born in Miami on October 29, 1929 and lived there until 1993. I remember this building was known as "The Chicken House" as chickens were hatched and raised here in the 30's.
Linda 28-Oct-2007 16:16
From my understanding my great great grandfather is the one who decided to build this hotel. I don't know a lot about the history of it, but would love to know anything about it that I can. Thank you
Linda
Ray23-Oct-2007 02:21
Thanks for the comments about the NWS radar. I first saw that classic radar installed at the U of M, on the Ungar building. I remember it moving to the building on US1. Now I know 'the rest of the story' as Paul Harvey would say. Even more history of the radar and the weather offices is here: http://www.srh.noaa.gov/mfl/history/. A picture that includes the Radar is here:

From what I remember, that radar WSR-57 system was serial number 2. It started life here in 1959 and died in 1992 when it was blown off the roof in Hurricane Andrew.

I don't remember seeing the building in this picture. I checked Google Earth and it's gone. Anyone know when it was torn down and why?

More great Miami history here, thanks.
Jack B 13-Sep-2007 18:58
I worked in this building in the early 60's I was a clerk for the Dade County Public Works Department, I think the Director of Public works was Bert Prince at that time.
I later took a job as a Rodman on the survery crew that worked out of the basement.
rr 16-Aug-2007 01:44
my father worked in this building with the what later became the National Hurricane Center in 1960. The radar "ball" is not pictured. Ironically, my daughter 47 years later works in the juvenile facility on these grounds.
George Stegmeir 21-Jul-2007 04:49
During the late 1940's and early '50's there was a Knights of Columbus Hall right across 27th Ave from Embry Riddle. I don't know when it ceased operation because I left for college in 1953
52Guest 09-Jul-2007 00:34
I lived on 33rd street directly in front of the middle of the bldg. I walked to Melrose Elem school for 6 years between 1961 + 1967. I can recall it being Embry Riddle school and then vacant and the clothing factories for awhile and then vacant again. It was built by Henry Flagler as a hotel and never made it. In later years it also housed the Natl Hurricane Svc "weather ball" before it was moved across from U of Miami. In the mid to late 70's, the bldg was torn down and replaced by a county juvenile justice center and courthouse. Strangely and sadly enough, this is the site where I had a custody battle for my 4yr old son argued, and lost, in 1980. We used to often remark while living on 33rd street that the Aviation Bldg would block all plane crashes from happening on our block. At least three cargo planes crashed during the 60's and 70's in the general area. I moved from Miami in 1988
Toni Deveson 06-Jul-2007 07:00
In the 1960's, this building housed clothing factories. My mother worked there for several years sewing. When I got out of school at 3:00 pm, I would walk to this building for my "job." At 10 year-old, I sewed buttons by hand at $0.01 each all afternoon until my mom's shift was over and we went home.
Mary E. Pent 24-Jun-2007 20:23
When I was a child about 10 yrs. old we lived in the NW section of Miami. I walked past this building many times. This building was first built as a hotel, but in the depression of the 1929's, building was stopped, and it just sat there. Then it became a chicken house in the late 1930,s. We kids used to call it the "Million Dollar Chicken House. I remember when it was completed, and became an Avation School. Oh how times have changed things.
Dale Barrett 24-Jun-2007 17:04
I went to Embry Riddle in 53 ,54 earning my aviation AE, mechanics license,my private and commercial pilots license. Then flew with Delta Airlines for 38 years
Fred Cohn 23-Jun-2007 00:01
I went to this school in 1956-57 Embry-Riddle School of Aviation
djmoore 18-Jun-2007 16:55
Re: Emery - Riddle Aviation Building.
I remember spending a night in this building which was then a 'chicken warehouse' after it was known as the Fritz Hotel. The occasion was the '39 hurricane and I was 6 years old.