The building, located at 1424 Drexel Avenue, was constructed in 1936 as Miami Beach Senior High School. The ‘Mediterranean Revival’ style building was designed by New Haven, Connecticut architect, August Geiger (1887 – 1968). After relocating from New Haven to Miami in 1905, Geiger experimented with a number of architectural design styles during his career in the South Florida area. Italian Renaissance, Mission, and Art Deco designs were all in Geiger’s repertoire, but he is best known for introducing the Mediterranean Revival style to the South Beach area in 1916 with the construction of The Miami Beach Municipal Golf Course House. Located at 2100 Washington Avenue, the Golf Course House is the oldest remaining building on South Beach.
As you walk around the complex, take notice of how Geiger employs a classical sense of design through elements like scale, proportion and symmetry. These elements are expressed through the use of applied stucco ornaments, arcaded ground floor verandas and clay, barrel tile roofs.
The High School Years
The facility served as Miami Beach Senior High School from 1936 to 1959. Some notable alumni who called this campus their home are: Robert Ruben (Former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury under President Bill Clinton), Kim Hunter (Academy Award winning actress for the 1951 film, A Streetcar Named Desire) and Barbara Walters (TV news journalist and current co-host of the ABC talk show, The View).
From the pediment relief on the gym to the pediment engraving on the main building, reminders of that era are everywhere around the campus. Perhaps one of the most striking examples is the statue of “Eddie” in the Española courtyard. Completely restored in 2006, Eddie is the only Beach High student who never left. He has been guarding the building from the same spot for the past sixty years.
Hollywood Comes Calling
In February of 1981, writer/director Bob Clark (A Christmas Story, Turk 182) came to Miami Beach Adult to scout locations for his new movie. He felt that our campus was the perfect location to serve as “Angel Beach High” in his new film. As it turns out, that film was Porky’s. During its first run theatrical release in 1982, the film grossed more than 120 million dollars world-wide. To this day, Porky’s still has a huge following, and thanks in part to the infamous shower scene and Kim Cattrall’s “Lassie” scene shot in our gym, the film is regarded as one of the funniest movies ever made.
Clark and crew returned to Miami Beach Adult in June of 1982 to shoot Porky’s 2; The Next Day. Though the sequel didn’t reach the blockbuster status of the original, it did give our school international exposure for the second year in a row. To commemorate the 25th anniversary of the original film, 20th Century Fox released: Porky’s – The Ultimate Collection in May of 2007. The DVD box set contains all three Porky’s films and includes a commentary about shooting on our campus by Bob Clark.