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93 Palm Avenue  
Miami Beach
Capone's retreat from Chicago

A lot has been said over the years on Al Capone. The attributions to this man's past deeds and whereabouts is completely out of this world. I would think that if Al was alive today, he would be most certainly amused at the places people have placed him. Many things, such as his overstated wealth and whereabouts are not to be believed. His hundreds of millions made in bootlegging and vice was not his personal money. It was the organizations money. He took his cut and in the end pretty much lost all of that through gambling, lavish spending, legal fights.
As far as his homes go, only two (Chicago and Florida) were owned by him through his mother and wife. Another was rented (3605 Indian Creek) besides his stays in Hotels (Hawthorne, Metropole, Lexington, Ponce De Leon). Any other lodgings supposedly owned by him are to be totally discounted. Al certainly stayed at friends houses, and hotel rooms, but the owning of so many other dwellings is very far fetched. In the end, Al couldn't even afford to hold on to the Palm Island estate, let alone owning other houses in Florida or elsewhere.
When Al was sick, Ralph made him a promise to take care of Mae and Sonny. Ralph did this dutifully and even the organization all pitched in to help. This was in appreciative thanks to one of  The Outfit's great architects. After Al passed on, the organization refused to continue supporting Mae and Sonny. Ralph continued helping them, but the two houses were sold off in order to survive. The upkeep on the Palm island estate was too astronomical for Mae.


I contacted noted Florida expert and author Mr. Seth Bramson about Capone's time in Miami. He confirmed my suspicions, and here's what he had to say on the subject.

"He did NOT have "a lookout tower" in what would, years later, become Westview C. C.; he did NOT own any hotel on Miami Beach; he did NOT have "a hideaway" at the former Miami Shores Hotel in Miami Shores and probably 99% of the Al Brown rumors relative to Greater Miami are nonsense.
He lived one winter in a rented house on Miami Beach and then moved to the home on Palm Island, where he spent his last years suffering from--as you well know--paresis of the brain.
He did go to nightclubs occasionally and sometimes would take his speedboat to go to Bimini in the Bahamas to pick up some booze, but that was about it."

For further reading, Mr. Seth Bramson has written over 18 books on the Florida subject. He is also an adjunct Professor of History at both Florida International University, where he teaches all of the University's South Florida and Florida history courses, and at Barry University in Miami Shores.
My heartfelt thanks for his expertise in dispelling some of the myths surrounding Al Capone and Miami.




With the cold Chicago winters, and all the near misses on his life, Al Capone definitely needed a hideaway that was warm and sunny. A  place where he could go to relax and get away from the stressful day to day of operations of gangdom. After all, his job was a deadly one! Al first visited Miami back in 1926-27. He got hooked by the surroundings of this newly built state, which held much promise for the future ahead. Before we get to Capone famous Florida home, let's take look at the previous places that lead to him buying his estate on Palm Island.  


3605 Indian Creek Drive.
The first address where Al and Mae rented a house from Mrs. Sterns.
Mrs. Sterns was very worried that Al and party would damage her house. Her worries were unfounded, the Capone's had left the place in impeccable condition and in fact left her dishwear and other stuff they had left behind. Mae made sure to pay her hefty long distance phone bill with an extra couple of hundred dollars for Mrs. Sterns.
(Mario Gomes Collection)


Excerpt taken from Frank Wilson's report on Al Capone's expenditures and trial.
(Mario Gomes Collection)


The house that was here is long gone and is now the site of what else? Condominiums!
(Mario Gomes Collection)






Al's view from across 3605 Indian Creek. Many people email about Al having owned a house here or there. Al rented at this above address, he then rented a home on PineTree Drive all the while maintaining a 8th suite at the Ponce De Leon Hotel at 231 East Flagler street . At the Ponce De Leon run by his new pal Parker A. Henderson Jr., Al began the search to purchase a permanent home in Miami Beach. They found him one at 93 Palm Avenue, Palm Island and Al fell in love with the place.
(Mario Gomes Collection)



235 East Flagler Street
 
Al had befriended a gangster groupie named Parker Henderson Jr. He was the son of Miami's mayor. He ran the Ponce De Leon Hotel at 231 East Flagler street.  
(Mario Gomes Collection)

About thirty of these buckles were given by Capone to friends at the cost of about $275 each. This above particular buckle was given to Parker Henderson Jr., Florida hotel man who had befriended Al Capone and helped him acquire his 93 Palm Isle Miami home. Parker also had helped Capone cash checks and acquire hand guns. Parker got fed up of  being a Capone gopher after being interrogated by the police for the murder of Frankie Yale. A handgun purchased by Henderson for Capone that was used in the killing of Yale. The gun was found next to Yale.  Henderson Jr. was born in 1903 and passed away in 1943. Henderson's father had been Mayor of Miami in 1915-1917 and again in 1923-1925. His dad will pass away in 1926.
(Mario Gomes collection)

Al had a  top floor room at the Ponce De Leon hotel on Flagler street, while renting his home at Indian Creek Drive in 1927.
It was run by his friend Parker A. Henderson Jr.
(Mario Gomes Collection)

Excerpt taken from  Frank Wilson's report on Al Capone's expenditures and trial showing him renting a suite (room 804) at the Ponce De Leon Hotel.



Al stayed on the 8th floor of this hotel (Room 804).
(Mario Gomes Collection)




A 93 Palm Avenue, Palm Island, Miami Beach
 Capone's 93 Palm Isle Florida mansion when Capone lived there. It was his last welcoming sanctuary after leaving Alcatraz a broken soul. He spent his time fishing and playing one man tennis against a wall. With his mind regressed to that of a 12 year old, He mostly stayed in a room above the front entrance where he could see who came and went. He managed to live and die there peacefully in 1947.
(Mario Gomes collection)

In the top two photos you will notice that the new pool house is being built. Only half of the complete cabana is showing in these two views. This is the early stages when Capone acquired the home and had the pool house added.



A short Capone home history

The house was built in 1922 for Pennsylvania born Clarence M. Busch, a successful realtor whom is not to be confused as was all these years with the famous brewing Busch family from St. Louis. These people were not related and that's one of the myths passed down through time. Even when the house was being sold, this brewmaster myth was being perpetuated as fact. Realtor Clarence Busch had this house built along with a few others as an investment because he had a dwelling at the time on Brickell Avenue. The house was owned by James W. Popham at the time Capone was interested in it. Capone did not go seeking it, but was actually approached by hotel owner Parker Henderson Jr. and then Miami Mayor John Newton Lummus Jr., who was also a realtor. A few realtors eagerly wanted to sell Capone a home and Henderson and Lummus just figured they could find him a home themselves and showed Capone a few. Capone was immediately hooked on the one at 93 Palm Avenue. James Popham was furious when he found out through insurance records that Al Capone was to be the new owner of the house. The views by the people of Miami of Capone living there was divided. Many were afraid Capone was going to bring his gang wars into Miami. Capone reassured officials he was here simply to rest and enjoy himself. Clarence M. Busch soon regretted having sold one of the many houses he had built on the Island to Capone. Busch had helped develop the Palm and Hibiscus Islands. Busch had a house across from the Capone estate which he rented out. The tenants and Busch saw and heard first hand what was objectionable to most of the home owners on Palm and Hibiscus Island. Capone took special liberties in not following the home associations rules and regulations. Examples were that his 25 ft boat dock was surpassing the 8 ft allotted. He built a 7 foot cement wall all around the compound with huge search lights. His pool was one of the biggest ones on the island at the time. Talk of all night parties, orgies, and even incuding gunfire that were heard by neighbours. This was all unproven hearsay. Those who rented nearby were quick to pack up and leave. Capone tried to ingratiate himself by sending out invitations to a party at his home. Some came and many refused. The ones that did attend quickly had a second opinion of the man. Those that didn't attend continued to cry foul. Their persistence lead the authorities to harrass Capone and arresting him many times for simple vagrancy. The Palm Island home was once raided and alcohol was confiscated. A Miami Civic committee was up in arms about a $2500 donation that was asked from Capone. Many of the clubs workers quit over this donation. Capone put an end to this squabble by not handing over any of the monies promised. Another man named R.B. Burdine had attended a March 8, 1929 party at the Capone house in which he saw Champagne and other liquors flowing freely. Burdine was sent there to collect a $1000 check for the finance committee of the Miami community chest. An uproar by the Miami citizens ensued and the check was immediately returned. Capone found his time in Miami sometimes difficult but the interrupted peace he found there was still way better than the violence and coldness of Chicago. After being arrested in Miami dozens of times on vagrancy and perjury charges, Capone's then hired Attourneys Vincent Giblin and Fritz Gordon fight all the charges and win . There is talk that Capone is planning on buying another property in Florida. Nothing comes of this because by this time his Chicago tax trial eats up his dwindling income and he is finally sentenced to prison. Released in 1939, he returns home by car from a Baltimore hospital. He will remain in his Palm Island home making a few trips with his family to Chicago, New Jersey and Wisconsin. He will die in his Palm Island home on January 25,1947.

See death and Funeral

Two aerial shots of the Capone compound taken in fall 1936.
(Mario Gomes collection)



 After the Capone era, the house was sold by Mae Capone to Cleveland realtor Thomas Warren Miller in 1952. After living there a couple of months to destigmatize the Capone aura, he sold it and took most of the furnishings Mae left behind with him *(Most of that ended up in an April 1992 Capone auction in Chicago by Leslie Hindman).
After Miller left, the house was owned by Mr. Harry Renckert.
Next it was sold to Dr. James C. Chimerakis, a Coral Gables physcian and surgeon.
In October 1967, Dr. Chimerakis tried to sell the house for $75,000, but It remained on the market for a while. He finally sold it to William Knowles on June 12, 1968 for $48,000.
On January 8, 1969, the home was sold to Mr. Roy Fowler for $50,000
In 1971, Delta airline pilot Henry T. Morrison was looking for a home. He liked 93 Palm avenue and without even knowing it was the old Capone abode purchased it for $56,000.  After 35 years, Henry Morrison placed it on the market in 2006, and was owned in 2011-13 by Peter Corsell.  He sold it after renovating it and It was purchased by The current owner, a Florida company managed by New York accountant Anthony Panebianco. He purchased the home in 2013 for $7.4 million. It is now back on the market again for $8.5 million.





1936 postcard of Palm Island. Arrow indicates where Al Capone's house is located.
(Mario Gomes collection)





Entrance to Palm Island.
(Mario Gomes Collection)





The later guest house, which used to be the guard house when Al was alive. It has peep hole that would help determine if the visitor was to be let in.
(Mario Gomes Collection)





93 Palm Avenue
(Mario Gomes Collection)







Other main entrance to the house. This was used as an exit to the opposing entrance.
(Mario Gomes Collection)






Open sesame! From here we can see the main house in the distance.
I had to stop to think of all the important gangsters that made it thorugh these gates. Anthony Accardo, Jake Guzik, Sam Hunt, Rocco and Charley Fischetti, Frank Nitti etc...
Not only gangsters made it through these gates, many boxers and even the high society of Miami had to take a peek once invited to the many parties given by Al Capone. Newspapermen came to interview the gang monarch. Harry Read came to interview Capone about Jake Lingle's murder. That was published in The St. Louis Dispatch and Capone denied everything that was printed.
Lot's of history here!
(Mario Gomes Collection)




Walkway to main house
(Mario Gomes Collection)







The main house.
(Mario Gomes Collection)






Facing the main house to the left is a coral and rock grotto lighthouse with bridge by the guard/guesthouse. Al and Sonny would feed their tropical fish here.
Close up of lighthouse
(Mario Gomes Collection)


Bridge made of rock and coral. Note missing piece at bottom right.
(Mario Gomes Collection)


Ralph standing next to bridge.
(Mario Gomes Collection)




Let's cross the bridge and continue the tour!
(Mario Gomes Collection)



Front entrance to main house
(Mario Gomes Collection)




Standing at the side of the house. Here we can see the front entrance steps and the front porch (veranda).
(Mario Gomes Collection)




To the left of the front door is the front porch veranda.
(Mario Gomes Collection)



Front door to the once Capone household. Let's go in shall we?
(Mario Gomes Collection)





Once inside looking to the right. Stairway to the left and dining room to the right.
Note original 1920 light fixture above.
(Mario Gomes Collection)




Turning in the opposite direction is the foyer or living room where the fireplace is.
(Mario Gomes Collection)



opposing side of front entrance. Door to a bathroom with original tiles and fixtures from Capone's time there.
Let's open the door and take a look.
(Mario Gomes Collection)

Black and yellow tile with brass fittings.
(Mario Gomes Collection)





Beautiful sink and ornate tile work.
(Mario Gomes Collection)




original brass faucet fixture.
(Mario Gomes Collection)




To the right; the black toilet.
(Mario Gomes Collection)




Towel rack
(Mario Gomes Collection)




Missing piece from left towel rack post.
(Mario Gomes Collection)




Window in bathroom looking out to back varanda.
(Mario Gomes Collection)




Old electrical system for light switch.
(Mario Gomes Collection)



Three hand drawn plans of 93 Palm Avenue. Click on below pdf links for how these rooms are situated within the house.  Keep in mind that these are not 100% accurate, and are solely used to better situate the photos you are viewing.

House diagram
First floor
Second floor





Back out of the bathroom facing the main entrance I turn to to my right and there is the foyer.
(Mario Gomes Collection)





We go in and there is the original fireplace. Original 1920's Duplexalite light fixture above.
(Mario Gomes Collection)




turning to the left there is the front veranda.
(Mario Gomes Collection)





Turning to the right is the back veranda.
(Mario Gomes Collection)







We turn 180 degrees, and go towards the dining room.
(Mario Gomes Collection)







The dining room.
(Mario Gomes Collection)






Door to the left leads to kitchen.
(Mario Gomes Collection)







Kitchen
(Mario Gomes Collection)



These stairways lead to( the left) second floor upstairs, and the door in front leads into the kitchen.
(Mario Gomes Collection)





Let's climb the stairs and take a peek on he second floor.
These were the stairs Al capone's body was taken down by the undertaker and a off duty policeman Emery Zerick, who had worked as a security guard for the Capones. This info from Emery Zerick's testimony on Geraldo's documentary called "Al Capone's Vault".
(Mario Gomes Collection)






Second floor going to the right facing the front of the house.
(Mario Gomes Collection)





The room where Al died to the left and a guest room to the right.
To the guest room we go.
(Mario Gomes Collection)






Guest room
(Mario Gomes Collection)



This room was probably occupied by the nurses when Capone was near death.
(Mario Gomes Collection)


CAPONE THE MAN


I feel it important to be stated that Al Capone was made to be as big as he is by many things. Could it be he was as ruthless as they say ? Did pop culture have something to build up his image? Al Capone was a bootlegger, supplying liquor to people who wanted it. These included judges, police and highly placed people who demanded the best. He was said to be a murderer, as many people accuse me of collecting a murderers belongings,but I must remind them not to place me or Capone alongside people like Jeffrey Dahmer or people who collect anything related to Dahmer. While I admit Capone was no saint, he was involved in a business that dealt with death as a strategy for survival.The other players he had killed or was hunted by, were also in the same game and abided by those same rules.They were gangsters of the Roaring Twenties. Well dressed men who lived fast and dangerously.There was a romantic side to it, like it or not (cars women,booze and money).

From barkeep and bouncer at Coney Island's Harvard Inn, to bouncer and roper at Torrio's Four Deuces, Al slowly rose the gang ladder. As did his peers Colosimo and Torrio, Al also had managed a boxer by the name of Mike Dundee. In 1925, he rose to supreme gangster boss in Chicago and made the newspapers all over the world.

People would hear the word Chicago and immediately think Al Capone and machine guns. Reporters from France, England and Canada all wanted to interview this mob personality. Pretty impressive for a man who left school at 13.

By 1930, Al made the cover of Time magazine.  

Al Capone made it big and when the great depression rolled around, I guess someone had to pay for all those years of high living. The high profile man of choice for the downfall was to be Al. I think the government went a little overboard. Think about it, He was given 11 years in Alcatraz for failure to pay taxes. Criminals today get less time in a less confining prison as compared to Alcatraz. Al left Alcatraz a broken soul, his mind ravaged by syphillis. He lived out his remaining years on his Palm Isle residence in Florida. He lived his remaining years with the warmth and protection of his family. Before his health became worse, Al and Mae would go to the restaurants in Florida. He used to have his weekly haircut in town at a Hotel and was affectionately called Grandpa by the barber. His last few years he became very child like, acting like a thirteen year old and became highly excited when visitors dropped by to see him. He would sometimes speak fast and whistle at the same time. He would get extremely upset when the vistors would leave. He also enjoyed chewing his favorite gum called Sen Sen. Seeing Al hit a tennis ball aimlessly into a net was occuring frequently.

Cane Wyn, an African American caretaker across the street from the Capone mansion once saw Capone display displeasure over seeing some tourists trying to peek over the Palm Isle mansion. One tourist even went as far as to climb a palm tree. Capone pointed to the gawkers and told Wyn "What do you think of people like that?"  Wyn replied" They must think some kind of varmint lives in there." Capone retorted "They're just ignorant and crazy!" and slammed the gate behind him.
When his health deteriorated, he would be wheeled around in a wheelchair and brought to the dock of his Florida mansion for fresh air. He would be immediately brought in as sightseers approached the dock. He would play cards with old associates and thought he was still in charge. Most of his fellow mobsters would appease the big fellow by obliging his winning the card game. Near the end he was confined to a room * with two seperate beds, one being for Mae, and one for Al . He suffered from pneumonia,but seemed to get better near his birthday. At the end he succumbed to a stroke brought on by the syphillis on January 25th,1947 at 7:30 pm.




No need to go back into the hallway we can enter the other room through this door in the guest room.
(Mario Gomes Collection)



Yours truly hanging around the room Al Capone supposedly died in. It has windows with views of the side and front of the house.
Al probably had one huge bed in the middle when he was there. I was lucky enough to spend the night there. For those ghost hunters, I'm really sorry to disappoint you, but Al did not show up that evening. I called out his named, walked in the dark, took photos in the dark and yet nothing happened. Maybe he has passed over and is not walking the earth any longer. Or maybe it's because there is some discrepancy over time that Al may have died instead in the Master bedroom after collapsing in one of the hanging bathrooms.
Others will ask "Why did he die in that room and not the master bedroom?" Perhaps it was because he was very sick at that time and poor Mae needed to get some rest with all that was happening to her husband. She would have had the master bedroom to herself, while Al was in that room with nurses from the adjoining rooms taking care of him . As for Mae, she was always close by Al, even to the very end. At  any rate, we can be sure of one thing, and that is that Al did indeed die in this home.
(Mario Gomes Collection)


For you paranormal people!
Slept like a baby with only the rustling sound of the blinds due to the breeze. Some see a figure in bottom right image.
I guess you can see anything if you really want to.
(Mario Gomes Collection)





The side window looking out to the front of the house gave Al a good view of who was coming in and going out.
This was his world during the final months of his life.
(Mario Gomes Collection)





A view of the room window from the outside where Al Capone spent his final days.
(Mario Gomes Collection)





A view of the door to the adjoining guest room .
(Mario Gomes Collection)







A view of the window looking out to the front of the house. Note the original duplexalite light fixture.
Shot taken from bathroom in the room.
(Mario Gomes Collection)







Bathtub with original tiles.
(Mario Gomes Collection)








Original sink and toilet from Al's time.
(Mario Gomes Collection)






Original handles in the shower. Al may have collapsed in this bathroom.
(Mario Gomes Collection)


For more please see

93 Palm Avenue Part 2

 Please note that all 93 Palm Island photos on these webpages belong to www.myalcaponemuseum.com and may not be used without permission.