“Going Home” to Meet Maggy Hurchalla, SLR/IRL

The house built in the early days of Miami by Maggie's mother.
The house built in the “outback” by Maggy’s mother in the early days of a growing Miami.
The driveway leading to the house. (JTL)
The driveway leading to the house. (JTL)
The porch.
The porch.
The grounds has many trees planted by Mrs Reno years ago that are now gigantic.
The grounds has many trees planted by Mrs Reno years ago that are now gigantic.
Oolite rock on the grounds.
Oolite rock on the grounds.
The house only lost one shingle during Hurricane Andrew in 1992. This hangs on the wall as a testament to Mrs Reno.
The house only lost one shingle during Hurricane Andrew in 1992. This hangs on the wall as a testament to Mrs Reno and her husband.
cover of book
Cover of book. Mrs Jane Woods Reno.
In 1994,  when I was a much younger woman, my mother handed me a book entitled: “To Hell With Politics,” a compilation of the writings of Jane Wood Reno.

My mother noted that the author was an incredible woman. She had built her house with her own two hands; was a savant; she had had a career as a reporter for the Miami Herald; she once hiked many miles northward, for days and nights, along the Atlantic’s shoreline meeting, speaking, and writing about the people she met along the way; she had befriended the Miccosukee Indians and they considered her an “Indian Princess;” she raised peacocks on her very large parcel way out west of Downtown Miami; she was a dedicated mother and wife…..she was Martin County Commissioner Maggy Hurchalla’s mother.

To say the least, I found Mrs Reno’s story interesting and never forgot the book. Fast forward twenty years; I was invited to visit the house, and I did.

Driving down on October 24, 2015, I thought it would be a straight shot down the Turnpike from Stuart. But somehow I “took a wrong turn” and ended up in the craziness of Downtown Miami driving in carpool lanes as a single driver, cameras taking my picture, and barriers forcing me to stay in “my lane.” As I pulled off I-95 stressed out and sweating Siri’s voice rung in the tense air. Then I saw it, the mailbox.

Turning right down a long unpaved driveway I exited the bustle, excessive traffic, shopping malls, and crowded housing developments, and went back in time. Driving in I noticed wild coffee plants and gumbo limbo trees  just like some areas of our St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon. “Weird.” I thought. “Is there a creek around here somewhere? I wonder what Kendall looked like before they drained it, filled it, mowed it down, and planted hedges? A pine forest? An oak/palm hammock? Beautiful…”

I parked my car and looked around. Time stood still. A tropical breeze floated through the trees and the sun shined. Birds were chirping. Legend Maggy Hurchalla greeted me and I toured the grounds of her family home. She was there caring for her older sister, former U.S. Attorney General,  Janet Reno. It was a day I will always treasure. A day a book I read as a younger woman came to life.

I think the photos will say it all, so I won’t write much more.

The house is an island. It is a symbol of what was, and what has become. Thank you to Maggy Hurchalla who helped keep what happened around her childhood home from happening in Martin County.

You can see the Reno parcel unchanged amounts the rampant development of Miami Dade. Google maps 2015
You can see the Reno parcel unchanged amoung the rampant development of Miami Dade. Google maps 2015
Up close.
Up close.
Maggy give me a tour or the grounds. (Photo JTL)
Chickee built by Maggy’s brother. (Photo JTL)
Maggie gives me a tour of the grounds.
Maggy gives me a tour of the grounds.
Mrs Hurchalla having a park named after her in Martin County 2013. (MC Flicker photos.)
Mrs Hurchalla having a park named after her in Martin County 2013 for her work as a commissioner from 1974-1994. (MC Flicker photos.)
Plaque in park. Photo Sandra Thurlow 2015.
Plaque in Maggy’s park,  Photo Sandra Thurlow 2015.
Sally Schwarz’ article about park in MC: (http://opinionzone.blog.palmbeachpost.com/2013/12/07/martin-county-names-park-after-maggy-hurchalla/)

22 thoughts on ““Going Home” to Meet Maggy Hurchalla, SLR/IRL

  1. Thanks so much for this Jacqui. What an amazing family. So much a part of our history. Blessings, Steve (P.S. Let me know if (when) I can do anything to help you with your campaign.)

  2. Great article, Jacqui! I took one of Maggy’s nature walks many years ago. She is such a TREASURE for the Treasure Coast. We owe so much to her for the quality of life we enjoy now!

  3. What a wonderful article, Jacqui! I was born in Perrine, FL, a little south of Kendall. I lived in Cutler Ridge until age 9, but I remember South Dade well as a child. The Reno property was still in the “boonies” when I was little. We lived in Homestead from 1985-97 and watched the building boom in Kendall. It was out of control, and now most of those areas–Homestead included–are unrecognizable. It’s refreshing to see the Reno Oasis is still there!

  4. Thank you so much for sharing the Reno hidden garden of a home.  In this case the acorn dropped next to the tree.  The secret gem in plain sight.  (I hate driving to Miami too) Thank you again. Laureen Odlum

  5. Jacqui, thanks for sharing your story about an incredible family. Kinda in the style of The Last of the Mohicans. I know when they settled and built, that area was glade land and piney woods. Not much else. Huge amount of change. I am so thankful for Maggy and other’s work to protect and preserve Martin County natural resources and lifestyles. I am an ex-Dade County guy and worked at a nursery/landscape company 2 blocks from there to the south. 1985-1998 approximately. Still work for the same company. We sometimes volunteered to help there when Janet Reno had her security teams. Thank you for your writings and thank you to the Reno Family for all of the Public Good Things they have done! Jacqui for Martin County Commission!

  6. Facebook Comments and likes. “People love Maggy!”
    Mary Thurlow Hudson, Robin Ann Baum, Vianne Nichols and 67 others like this.
    Lois Testa Lynch
    Lois Testa Lynch Remember that time well.
    Unlike · Reply · 2 · 13 hrs
    Marty Baum
    Marty Baum I grew up 3 miles from there.. it was old stomping grounds from a bicycle, before i could drive.
    Unlike · Reply · 2 · 13 hrs
    Nicole Matlack Mader
    Nicole Matlack Mader so cool JTL – so cool!!!
    Unlike · Reply · 2 · 13 hrs
    Catherine Dawson Kurth
    Catherine Dawson Kurth I grew up in Rocky Point, my brother’s and I were friends with the Hurchalla kids. Great family!
    Unlike · Reply · 2 · 13 hrs
    Mark Hill
    Mark Hill The history, the people involved are priceless. Don’t give it away, don’t let it slip away. . .
    Unlike · Reply · 1 · 13 hrs
    Betty Stembridge
    Betty Stembridge I’m thinking, she was one of our county commissioner when I lived their..
    Unlike · Reply · 1 · 11 hrs
    Donna Powers-Locklear
    Donna Powers-Locklear Jackie so cool thank you so much for sharing .
    Unlike · Reply · 1 · 11 hrs
    Valerie Jones
    Valerie Jones What a treasure she produced in her daughters. Fabulous. We need more of them, but where?
    Unlike · Reply · 1 · 11 hrs
    Ellen Feeley Gittin
    Ellen Feeley Gittin EXCELLENT!! Thank you for sharing Jacqui.
    Unlike · Reply · 1 · 10 hrs
    Rebecca Fatzinger
    Rebecca Fatzinger Wow..such an interesting article..thanks for sharing such a special day…its encouraging to see a beautiful piece of property still surviving
    Unlike · Reply · 1 · 10 hrs
    Diane Babula
    Diane Babula i remember her very well, such an interesting woman too
    Unlike · Reply · 1 · 9 hrs
    Lisa Jefferson
    Lisa Jefferson Great book & great story as usual from Jacqui.I almost thought that was a picture of Maggy’s house until I remembered she & Jim built hers as a copy of her mom’s-love that long porch.
    Unlike · Reply · 2 · 8 hrs
    Randall McConahy Gerbino
    Randall McConahy Gerbino Wonderful story. Not surprising that she was related to Janet Reno, another outstanding woman.
    Unlike · Reply · 1 · 6 hrs · Edited
    Marilyn Gavitt
    Marilyn Gavitt Great read! Maggie has done so much for Martin County and you will, too!!!
    Unlike · Reply · 1 · 6 hrs
    Crystal Sparks Lore
    Crystal Sparks Lore I went to school with George and lived a few streets over. I can remember my mom always saying: Maggie was the only one that cared about keeping Martin County beautiful. I didn’t understand then… Now I do.
    Unlike · Reply · 2 · 5 hrs
    Gretchen Hurchalla
    Gretchen Hurchalla Much credit should go to George Hurchalla who lovingly put the book together and is a great keeper of his grandmothers written words.
    Unlike · Reply · 3 · 5 hrs
    Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch
    Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch Thank you yes I saw he was the author had trouble fitting in all the names. A remarkable human being. Wonderful book.
    Like · Reply · 2 hrs
    Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch
    Write a reply…

    Cyndi Lenz
    Cyndi Lenz fabulous blog post!
    Unlike · Reply · 1 · 5 hrs

    Cyndi Lenz replied · 2 Replies · 2 hrs
    Mary Lou Bovie
    Mary Lou Bovie I have the book
    Unlike · Reply · 1 · 4 hrs
    Keri West
    Keri West This is one of my favorite pieces you ever wrote. And it brought tears to my eyes. I can see it hear it tasted and feel it. Thank you Jacqui
    Like · Reply · 2 · 2 hrs
    Robert Hall
    Robert Hall Try the book “A Land Remembered”… a great read.
    Like · Reply · 1 hr

  7. Thank you for this post. I was born in Miami in the early 60’s, and my mother was involved in politics. I remember visiting the Reno place as a small child and meeting Maggy. I remember they had a baby gator in the house, in a bath tub. They said I could give him/her a belly rub and I did, albeit quickly. That is my memory, rubbing the belly of a baby alligator in the tub, inside the Reno house.

    I would like to express my condolences to Maggy on the loss of her sister, but am not sure how to contact her. My mother is now 95. Thank you again for this article, seeing photos of her and the house brought back childhood memories for me.

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