ISOLA-STELLA: A Unique Craft

Isola-Stella, underway, Miami, FL 1928. Negative # 1984.187.27490F

Colonel Edward Howland Robinson Green was the son of Hetty Green, the famous miser and richest woman in America also known as “The Witch of Wall Street.” Colonel “Ned” Green, however, was a generous man who was interested in technology and provided the funds for the necessary research. During his years spent at his Round Hill estate in South Dartmouth, MA, he invited researchers from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to set up laboratories in the areas of radio communication, meteorology, high voltage, and aircraft navigation.

He built radio towers and incorporated WMAF, the first American Broadcasting Co. In the summer of 1923, the public was invited to radio broadcasts made available from load speakers mounted on the large water tower on the estate and resumed every July 1 when Ned and his wife would return from Miami, FL. Tens of thousands of people were entertained on the shores of the estate. The broadcasts ended in 1928 when the Colonel became concerned over the hundreds of cars parked near the private airport he had built.

In 1924, he took over the care of Charles W. Morgan and arranged transfer of her to his Round Hill estate. A coffer dam was built and she was placed therein and a special wharf was constructed alongside. And once again, thousands of people were entertained at the Round Hill estate thanks to Colonel Green.

The Colonel was also a yachting enthusiast. He and his wife Mabel honeymooned on his 256-foot screw steamer United States for four weeks before anchoring at Round Hill for two summers while the estate buildings were under construction. He owned a 120-foot Trumpy named Pioneer and while renovations were made to their Star Island home (the former Star Island Yacht Club); they lived on the 130-foot Colonel. The Colonel owned many vessels during his lifetime.

Pictured here is a unique craft, Isola – Stella (Star Island in Italian). She was built for Colonel Green by the Fogal Boat Yard of Miami in 1928 and was used to ferry passengers between Star Island and the Miami Beach Bath Club – an exclusive club on Indian Creek. Motor Boating magazine described the vessel as “a novel combination of Gondola and Spanish Galleon.” Her length was 52 feet; beam 12 feet; and draft of 2 feet. The clearance was kept low allowing the vessel to pass under the numerous bridges which cross the Miami canals. There were roomy facilities for 35 passengers in the cockpit and she had two low cabins. One of the cabins was arranged as a music room and contained an electric Orthophonic Victrola and Radio set, as well as a broadcasting station. The power plant was two model LNS-43 Fay & Bowen marine engines. And in recognition of her home port in Florida, the figurehead was an alligator with its body split along the port and starboard sides.

-Carol Mowrey