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Little Known, South Miami's Hidden Gem, The 'Doc' Thomas House Turns 90 This Year

MIAMI (CBSMiami) -- The "Doc" Thomas House is a hidden gem right in the middle of South Miami.

The story of this little-known authentic relic begins in the mid-1920s, as a bustling little berg was growing alongside Flagler's railroad.

Into town came pharmacist and world War I Veteran Arden Hayes Thomas. They called him "Doc" and he set up shop.

First, there was the OK Pharmacy, then the OK Feed Store. Doc then commissioned the construction of a unique craftsman-style wood home on Sunset, just east of Red Road.

Dr. Joe Barros, the President of The Tropical Audubon Society said, "Doc Thomas was a character, a bachelor all his life, built the house, lived here with his mother."

Doc Thomas was a lifelong world traveler, a nature lover with a particular interest in birds. Birds are something Florida is known for plenty of them back in the day, not so many now.

Dr. Joe Barros told CBS4's Hank Tester, "bird life, in general, is declining and needs support and our help."

Doc's historic home, deeded to the Tropical Audubon Society upon his death, is on the national historic register.

It is headquarters for the Society, dedicated to the preservation of the South Florida bird population which is impacted by urbanization pushing into fragile lands that support the bird population.

"Unfortunately, I can't say the developers are on board if anything we get them to save small pieces of land we need to save larger pieces and not fragment pieces."

The Tropical Audobon Society is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year. The organization is in the midst of a capital fundraising campaign.

Click here for information.

One wonders what Doc Thomas would say if he walked through the door of his home today.

"I think he'd feel pretty much at home. He'd be impressed with the state of the house, the fact it is here and not a grocery store as was offered at one time," says Barros.

Saving the birds, advocating for the preservation of the Everglades, Biscayne Bay, and yes, keeping Doc's House in order are all part of the 75th year legacy of the Tropical Audubon Society and this year, the historic "Hidden Gem" that you can visit is 90 years old.

The national historic site is located in the 5500 block of Sunset Dr., just east of South Miami.

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