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The Story of Fisher Island

A storied timeline of elegance and exclusivity

In the beginning, Fisher Island was a wedge of land with coconut palms and mangroves that sat in Biscayne Bay. Miami Beach founder and developer Carl Fisher purchased it from Dana Dorsey, South Florida's first African American millionaire. When trying to expand the island and build deep-water docks, progress was delayed as Fisher experienced push back from the County. Later, construction of the Port of Miami served to separate the lush appendage from Miami Beach, creating an entirely distinctive island.

1906 Government Cut created Fisher Island.

1918Herman B. Walker sold to Dana A. Dorsey (21-acres).

1919 Dorsey sold Island to Alton Beach Realty Company (owned by Carl Fisher – who quadrupled the area in land mass to develop for real estate)

1920'sCarl Fisher traded 7-acres of Fisher Island for a yacht from William K. Vanderbilt II

The Legendary Trade - Carl Fisher met William Kissam Vanderbilt II, an avid sportsman and frequent visitor to Palm Beach, Miami and Key West. Fisher, a fan of Vanderbilt's 250-foot yacht, proposed a trade "My Island for Your Boat" - Vanderbilt accepted and so the legendary trade was made. (the trade was actually for 7 acres that Carl Fisher owned at the time.)

1927 – 1934Vanderbilt increased his land holdings on the island to an estimated 13-acres.
(advised by Fisher that the surrounding property would some day be developed into real estate)

1936Vanderbilt began building his $1.5 million private island retreat on Fisher Island with a Mediterranean-style mansion. He surrounded this mansion with lush landscaping, gracious guest homes, tennis courts and swimming pools. William and his wife, Rosamund enjoyed entertaining the luminaries of their time on this island paradise.

Vanderbilt named his glorious retreat on Fisher Island "Alva Base", which was also the name of his German built 264' diesel yacht he docked at the island. Nicknamed, "The Floating Mansion", this yacht contained 8 staterooms and required a crew of 49. His mothers name was Alva, so more than likely he named his yacht and the home after his mother.

1941The main home and the surrounding guest cottages were completed. Rosemary's Cottage was built for Vanderbilt's stepdaughter Rosemary (Rosamund's daughter from her first marriage.) The studio cottage was built for Rosamund to paint in, as she was an artist. The North and South Cottages were for the their servants. The building now referred to today as the Jr. Suites was built to house the crewman for his yacht. The building now the Spa Internazionale was Vanderbilt's personal airplane hanger.

1944William K. Vanderbilt died.

1945 After Vanderbilt's death, Rosamund Vanderbilt sold the estate to Edward S. Moore of U.S. Steel. (stockholder of the Hialeah Race Course).

1946 Edward Moore passed away and his widow sold the estate to Garfield Wood, "The Speed Boat King".

Wood, aka: Gar Wood was the developer of the hydraulic hoist, which revolutionized the trucking industry. He also designed the PT boat of WWII. During the 25 years he lived on the island, he worked on the electric car design and military boat designs. Garwood added what is now known as the Garwood Lounge. Carl Fisher still owned part of the island.

1960 – 1968 - The City of Miami had a quarantine station in the northeast side of the island.

Later, a section of the island was used by the University of Miami Marine Biology Lab, and Belcher Oil maintained storage tanks on the northwest side of the island.

1971Garfield Wood sold his 13.2-acre estate to the investment group. This group was headed up by Charles G. Rebozo (Bebe), friend of United States President Richard Nixon; they took possession of the entire island.

1979 Additional tracts sold in 1979 to Island Developers Ltd., a partnership that included Rebozo's nephew Bill among others.

After various changes in ownership, the island sat vacant for over 15 years until development on the island began in the 1980s.

1987 - Fisher Island opens as a Club.

1993Fisher Island Club becomes an Equity Club.

2006Fisher Island Club takes control of the club properties from Fisher Island Holdings, LLC and operates the club independently. 

A New Era of Luxury for an Iconic Legend


Today's Fisher Island is equally exclusive & private, and represents one of the wealthiest zip codes in the U.S. At the heart of this exquisite tropical retreat is the incomparable Fisher Island Club. This Miami Beach resort alternative and luxury country club offers members and guests with the finest residential and recreational amenities to be found anywhere in the world.


The original Vanderbilt Mansion now serves as the landmark centerpiece of the sprawling 15 luxury accommodations. The original property is composed of the Mansion, Pump house / Beach Club tower, Rosamund's Studio, Rosemary's cottage, North & South Cottage, Jr. Suites, Café Tangier, and Airplane hangar.

 The Finest Residential & Recreational Amenities

Seeking to return Fisher Island to its original glory while raising it to today's discriminating industry standards, Phase I of the Renaissance of Fisher Island began in 2007. This 60 million dollar project was funded with investments provided by the developer, Fisher Island Holdings, and the residents & members of Fisher Island.

Construction commenced for the new golf course and renovations of the main marina. In 2008 construction began on the Beach Club and the Courtyard Villas for the hotel component for the resort. The restoration initiative of Phase II of the Spa, Golf Club House and other areas of the island are complete. The beauty of Fisher Island Club continues to astonish its members and guest.