About Us

The nonprofit Colonial Florida Cultural Heritage Center (CFCHC) complex is located on the campus of Corpus Christi Catholic Church in Allapattah, a neighborhood in Miami, Florida.

La Merced Chapel is the first building and focal point of four buildings that will create a village square and meeting place. The design of La Merced retains its Peruvian colonial soul, while the artisans and materials reflect the world that has come to South Florida over the centuries. The windows are made of onyx from Pakistan. The floor is marble from Turkey. The interior step facing is from Alicante, Spain. Outside walls include coral rock from the Dominican Republic. The outside steps are made of stone from Brazil. The exterior paint – and, someday, the interior paint – is made in the water-based style typical in Europe and the Spanish colonies at the turn of the century. On the front altar, the small columns and side niche areas are made by craftsmen from Cochabamba, Bolivia and is inspired by local traditional Indian carving. A coffered ceiling, also hand carved in Cochabamba, is in storage waiting for installation funding. Other altars are made by Colombians, by Mexicans in the style of Peru, and by Costa Ricans assisted by Hondurans and Guatemalans, exemplifying the rich artisan resources available in Miami.

La Merced Chapel houses the majority of an existing – and expanding – collection that includes Spanish Colonial art from throughout South and Central America and the islands, particularly the art centers of Cuzco and greater Peru, and Mexico City. The collection includes original documents and memorabilia focused on very early Florida, the early Americas, and Cuba from its beginnings through the early twentieth century. Original books emphasizing the social and political history of Florida, the islands and the Americas, and specialized topics such as the Spanish American War and Black America are also a part of the collection. In addition, the CFCHC collection includes early religious vestments made or used in the Americas. Recently, the Spanish Colonial art collection almost doubled with the several-year acquisition of a significant portion of the William Morgenstern Estate collection.

A second building on the site, the former parish convent, contains meeting and reception rooms, a library, display areas for the collections, and offices.