Basically the area covers 9.7 square miles. The boundaries are approximately as follows: on the North by SW 184 Street (Eureka Drive) from the Florida Turnpike to Biscayne Bay; on the West from SW 184 Street following US 1 to SW 112 (Allapattah Road) and then along SW 126 (Hanlin Mills Drive); on the South by SW 216 Avenue and along historic Old Cutler Road, taking a right on SW 224 Street going east to Biscayne Bay. The Eastern Border follows the coastline of Biscayne Bay from SW 184 Street to SW 224 Street.
Cutler Ridge’s history began in the 1870’s when a Massachusetts doctor, named William C. Cutler, first visited the area and fell in love with it. Native Americans living in South Florida then referred to the area as the Big Hunting Grounds. It was officially part of the Perrine Grant awarded to Dr. Henry Perrine, in 1838. Dr. Cutler bought a 600-acre tract of this land for $1.25 per acre and wanted to establish a fruit and vegetable plantation. He built a small shack where the Ingraham Highway crossed Snapper Creek and camped there. He tried three times to bring settlers to this area but most people id not stay. Dr. Cutler died in 1899, before he was able to establish a permanent home.
(Note: Dr. William C. Cutler was the leading practioner of medicine and surgery in Chelsea, Massachusetts. His ancestors cam from England in 1637 and were prosperous in both industry and politics. Dr. Cutler was born in Holliston, MA on May 17, 1837. He graduated from Laught Street Medical College in New York, in 1859 and began practice in Upton, MA in 1860. In 1866 he moved to Chelsea. He was a member of many medical societies and was a Thirty-third Degree Mason.
When small pox became an epidemic in Chelsea he began the production of the bovine vaccine virus. This was such a successful treatment that Dr. Cutler became world famous. Dr. Cutler traveled to Washington D.C. five times to deal with legal matters of the Perrine Grant. He died on May 12, 1899 at the age of 61. He did not marry or have any children).
The only one of Dr. Cutler’s friends who became a permanent resident was William Fuzzard. On his first trip to the area in 1882, twenty-year-old William stayed in Coconut Grove while he explored the area. He returned in 1883, setting up a tent before building a wooden two-story home. The only way to make money in Dade County at this time was to set up a starch mill, which Mr. Fuzzard did. Native Americans had long ago perfected the technique washing the ground up roots of the small Zamia Palm. In its natural state the plant is poisonous, but when treated properly the flour that is produced is edible. This flour was called coontie starch. The flour could also be used as laundry starch.
(Note: Although coontie mills were very profitable the Zamia plant grew very slowly and could not be cultivated. When the plant supply ran out the coontie mill industry disappeared as well. Pineapple (and later tomato) plantations became the chief means of making a living in this region).
One of Mr. Fuzzard’s greatest contributions to the Cutler area was the path he cut through the wilderness. The road, which was eventually widened to a wagon trail, went from Coconut Grove to his home. This trail was the beginning of what is now called Old Cutler Road. It ran north from Fuzzard’s home, went east and joined what is now Coral Reef Drive and turned into what is now Ludlam Road and went north to Chapman Field. It still runs the length of Chapman Field (in front of the USDA Experimental Station Office) and through Fairchild Gardens. It went through Matheson Hammock up to Cocoplum Circle and along Ingraham Highway to Coconut Grove. Fuzzard’s path was declared a public road in 1895. What was once traveled by Fuzzard’s white mule, Samson, is the beginning of what is now the State Historic Highway of Old Cutler Road.
William Fuzzard met and married Miss Antonia Geiger (from a pioneer Key West Family). He built his bride a story and a half home, complete with stained glass windows and furniture from the Keys. Considering the times the home was quite impressive. Dr. Cutler spent each winter with the Fuzzards, pitching a tent in the yard. Until 1884, all mail was delivered to Coconut Grove. Mr. Fuzzard decided that there were enough people to have their own post office. He made an application and became the first postmaster. He chose the name Cutler in honor of his old friend and mentor, Dr. Cutler. The first post office was in a freight car that had been salvaged from a shipwreck.
In 1900, Henry Flagler began to build his Florida East Coast (FEC) Railway. Rather than follow the ridge from Coconut Grove to the south, the railroad was built west. Pressure to move it westward came from Commodore Monroe and other Coconut Grove pioneers who wanted to protect their waterfront estates by intrusions from the railroad and commercialism. Cutler boomed while the tracks were being laid, but the railroad was responsible for the town’s ultimate demise. The Fuzzard family, along with fifty or more residents, moved north to Miami by 1905. A few people remained in the area but for the next 50 years Cutler Ridge mostly belonged to the deer, turkey, panthers, raccoons, bear, quail, snacks, gophers and ducks. Mangrove, pinewoods, palm trees, open glades, creeping vines and flowers covered the land. It was a true wilderness.
In the winter of 1904-05, Wilford B. Focht arrived in Cutler and stayed at the Richmond Inn. He was a cousin of Mr. John H. Earhart, who owned 2,000 acres, which included a small farming community called Franjo, after John Earhart and his brother, Francis. Franjo Road (SW 97 Avenue) gets its name from this community.
When you drive down Old Cutler Road you will see pinelands to the west and development of fields to the east. The reason for this was that when the path from Goulds to Cutler was laid out it ran along the pine ridge to avoid flooding. This natural limestone ridge saves many areas from routine flooding.
References to Black Point and Black Creek have been traced back to a 1775 survey of the area, done by Bernard Romans, when the English owned Florida. It was really not until Mr. David Blumberg began developing the land that Cutler Ridge became an organized community. In the early 1950’s Blumberg and his partner, Joe Segal, convinced owner Walter Blumberg to sell him 1,400 acres of undeveloped land. Blumberg actually named this area after Dr. Cutler and the limestone ridge on which the land sits. The first housing development went up in 1954 and the Cutler Ridge Mall opened in 1960. Street names in Cutler Ridge come from holidays and the ports of call Mr. Blumberg visited as a sailor. The area around the Mall was called Seminole Plains. What is now Lakes by the Bay was labeled Lincoln City as the streets and parks were laid out. Black Point was the first post office south of Cutler, opening on February 15, 1904.