Sunday, October 5
Enid Pinkney: Hampton House
On the first Sunday in October, we welcome our esteemed member and local historical activist Enid Pinkney for a program on the Historic Hampton House Community Trust.
The Hampton House Motel was an elegant place back in the days of segregation when anybody who was somebody would come for rest, relaxation and entertainment. There was good food and good music. Outstanding performers appeared and black celebrities lived there because they could not live where they performed.
Dr. Martin Luther King had a special room and so did Muhammad Ali. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. first said his "I Have a Dream" speech there and Muhammad Ali had his victory party there when he beat Sonny Liston.
Malcolm X proselytized Cassius Clay to the Muslim faith at the Hampton House.
The Hampton House was a bridge into integration during the period of segregation. One would find white people like Harvey Ruvin, County Clerk and Howard Klienberg, editor of the Miami News at the Hampton House enjoying the best jazz in town.
With integration and other circumstances came the demise of the Hampton House Motel. The once "Jewel of the South" became a derelict building and the County was going to tear it down. A group of preservationists asked the County for a "stay of demolition" and persuaded the County to buy the building. They formed a 501c3 Historic Hampton House Community Trust, Inc. and received local historic designation for the building.
Later the building became a part of the General Obligation Bond Program for 4.7 million dollars. This was not enough money and Commissioner Audrey Edmonson was successful in getting 2 million dollars more to begin the project.
The current challenge to the Trust is to make the building sustainable by finding tenants for the building. There are plans for a restaurant, but no kitchen is included in the plans. They plan a community room that could be rented for various functions. They want to have a recording studio, but money was not included for that. They planned for a museum, and a gift shop.
They have talked to Dr. Roslyn Clark Artis, President of Florida Memorial and Dr. Shelley Berg, of the University of Miami about bringing their music programs and history programs to the Hampton.
They urgently need tenants while the building is under construction so the completed building will meet the needs of the tenants. They also discussed having a police station on the premises and offices for local businesses.
The Historic Hampton House Historic Trust is open to ideas that will make the building sustainable.