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Miami Herald - May 17, 2007
Last Scott-Carver building named a historic landmark
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housing administrators destroyed all but one building of the
Scott-Carver Homes over a decade, former residents find hope in a
By Carol Marbin Miller
weren't much to look at, these cement block barracks-style homes with
aluminum windows, shingle roofs and once-empty yards. When county
housing administrators decided to begin razing them nearly a decade
ago, the Scott-Carver Homes were called blighted and ``distressed.''
only one of the buildings that comprised Scott-Carver remains. And with
a unanimous vote Wednesday by the Miami-Dade Historic Preservation
Board, that abandoned two-story complex gained a new designation:
Wednesday's vote means the structure, 7265 NW
22nd Ave., cannot be torn down or altered without the approval of the
The decision delighted scores of former
residents and community activists who had pushed for years to protect
the last remnant of the once-thriving complex.
building represents the life of the Scott homes,'' said Enid C.
Pinkney, a historian and preservationist who sits on the county
''For so many years, folks said black people
didn't have anything in the community worth preserving. This wakes us
up to the fact that we do have things in our community that are worth
preserving,'' Pinkney added.
With the designation, some
community leaders say they now can ponder what to do with the building.
One idea: house a gallery of photographs of former Scott-Carver
residents, said Dorothy Fields, founder of The Black Archives of South
Florida. The organization maintains a collection of photos and
documents of Miami's African-American community starting in 1896.
The remaining building, Fields said, ``is a very important part of our history.''
''So many families passed through there,'' Fields added. ``It will be good to be able to showcase their lives and work.''
James E. Scott Homes, named after a prominent Miami resident who served
as the first administrator of Miami's first public housing project,
called Liberty Square -- or the Pork 'n Beans to residents -- were
completed in 1955, in what is called the second wave of widespread
public housing construction.
The complex included 76 row-house buildings of simple, utilitarian construction.
Carver Homes, which held 30 buildings, were built between 1968 and
1969. Carver homes also were built with concrete block and stucco, with
little to distinguish them.
Though public housing originally was
conceived as a short-term strategy for low-income families, many such
complexes eventually housed several generations of the same families,
''The James E. Scott Homes defined the public
housing policy of Miami-Dade County in the 1950s. They stood as symbols
of dramatic change in one of the poorest inner-city neighborhoods . . .
during this era,'' wrote Carlos J. Dunn, a county preservationist, in a
report recommending designation approval.
''The safeguard of
this building,'' Dunn wrote, ``will constitute a tribute and
commemoration to Scott Homes, its residents, its history, as well as
the struggle and the contribution of the black community to Miami-Dade
The county had torn down the 856 units with plans to
build about half in return as part of the ambitious Hope VI project,
but those plans never came to fruition.
One of the most
passionate community activists who lobbied to protect what little was
left of Scott-Carver was Mary Nesbitt, a former resident who had said
she was ''heartbroken'' by the decision of housing administrators to
destroy the complex.
Nesbitt was not there to celebrate Wednesday's designation. She died earlier this month.
is good for the community that at least one of the buildings was
saved,'' Fields said, ``so that the story of the people who lived there
can be told.