Neighborhood Transformation
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Miami Herald - May 23, 2013

Historic Hampton House Motel, part of Miami’s black history, to break ground Thursday on restoration project

By Andres Viglucci

The historic but ruined Hampton House Motel, the gathering spot for Miami’s African-American movers and shakers during the final years of segregation in the 1950s and early '60s, will finally be rebuilt after nearly 10 years of planning by a group of activists and preservationists.

The group will host a groundbreaking Thursday for the restoration of the MiMo-style motel, which years of abandonment have reduced to a roofless shell.

The nearly $6 million project, funded mostly with proceeds from voter-approved Miami-Dade County bonds, will restore the Brownsville motel to the look of its heyday, when its restaurant and jazz club were the “in spot’’ for performers and black Miamians who were not allowed into Miami Beach and Miami hotels.

It attracted musicians including Sam Cooke, Ella Fitzgerald and James Brown and well-known figures such as Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr., who convened meetings with local civil rights activists there.

King’s daughter, the Rev. Bernice King, will speak at the ground-breaking. Band leader Richard Strachan, who directed the motel’s house band, will perform with a revived version of the group. The 10 a.m. event is free and open to the public.

The motel, 4200 NW 27th Ave., was shuttered in the early 1970s after its business died following the lifting of segregation, which opened other options for black Miamians. It had been slated for demolition when the county declared it a historic landmark and purchased it.

The Historic Hampton House Community Trust, which is guiding the project, will install a museum, including a reproduction of several guest rooms, including the suite King used to stay in, and a community space to be rented out for weddings and other events. The group also hopes to rent out parts of the building as office or commercial space.

CLICK HERE to learn more about Miami's Black historic sites