A former Cuban consulate that’s fabled to be haunted — by the one-legged ghost of a consul’s wife and another woman thought to be a servant — is on the market in Miami for $4.5 million.
Villa Paula, named for the former consul’s wife, is a 2,552-square-foot, 10-room property at 5811 N. Miami Ave. It was built in 1925 for consul Domingo Milord entirely with materials brought from Cuba.
Most recently, the building was turned into an art gallery exhibiting the works of foreign as well as homegrown artists, including the late Purvis Young from Miami’s Overtown, according to its website.
The white structure with Tuscan columns, a spacious backyard and a white wall bordering the property was designed by a Havana architect in a Neoclassical style popular in the 1920s. It sits on a lot that’s just over a quarter acre.
From the street, it might look like it has two stories because the one-story building has 18-foot high ceilings.
Inside the villa, conspicuous features are the tall wooden doors and narrow entryways into the different rooms.
Villa Paula is on the market along with three nearby lots.
Villa Paula will remain intact once sold — it’s designated as historic by the city of Miami — but what it will be used for remains to be seen.
It could be a restaurant or an office, said Jean-Louis Delbeke, the ONE Sotheby’s International Realty agent listing the property. Or it could be a gallery, he added.
“If you have somebody with creativity, you can find a lot to do with it,” Delbeke said.
The other properties on the market are a 5,238-square-foot lot at 5837 N. Miami Ave. north of Villa Paula; a 6,500-square-foot lot at 24 NW 58th St. west across North Miami Avenue from the villa; and a lot with a 1,232-square-foot home northeast of the villa, according to Miami-Dade County court records and the property appraiser’s office.
The city code allows for up to five-story residential buildings on the lots, according to Delbeke.
The Villa Paula and surrounding properties are on the market under a stipulated settlement of a lawsuit filed last August that in part pressed for the sale of the property.
Martin Siskind, an art dealer in Miami, sued his brother, Richard Siskind, and 5811 Investment Group LLC, the Villa Paula owner listed by the property appraiser’s office and registered to Richard Siskind in state records.
The lawsuit alleged Richard Siskind pulled back from an understanding between the brothers and Martin Siskind’s business partner Raymond Klein that the property would be sold and Richard Siskind would serve as trustee and fiduciary for Martin Siskind, according to the Aug. 29, 2017, amended complaint.
In the April 13 settlement agreement, which was signed by both sides, all agreed the four lots, including Villa Paula, would be sold for a starting asking price of $4.5 million. Some of the proceeds will go to Richard Siskind for his mortgage on the property and other Villa Paula costs and some will go into a trust to generate $100,000 a year for Martin Siskind’s living expenses, according to the settlement.
Despite the family issues playing out in court, Villa Paula still perhaps is mostly associated with ghost stories.
A psychic claimed five spirits haunt the house, including the servant who is said to be searching for her baby’s grave and the spirit of Paula, who died after a leg amputation, according to a story by Terence Cantarella that was published in 2008 in the Biscayne Times. A past resident said he had seen Paula’s ghost, heard heeled footsteps on the back porch and heard outside gates slam on windless days killing three of his cats.
Villa Paula changed ownership several times after the Cuban consulate closed and served in different capacities, including as an assisted-living facility, according to the Biscayne Times story.
The property is a rarity for Miami for its location, architecture and storied, spooky past, Delbeke said.
“This Villa Paula is huge. If you want to do something really special, there’s some properties in Miami, but this one is really unique because of the ghosts, the way it had been built, what it used to be, the 10 huge rooms with the 18-foot ceilings,” he said. “It’s huge.”
Lidia Dinkova covers South Florida real estate for the Daily Business Review. Contact her at LDinkova@alm.com or 305-347-6665. On Twitter @LidiaDinkova.