Miamis Black history to get a facelift

caines | 5/30/2013, 5:30 a.m.

Renovations begin on Historic Hampton House Motel Back in the day, Miamis Hampton House Motel was one of the few public places where a Black man famous or infamous could go to celebrate. Miami Beach may have welcomed Dick Gregory to perform his comedy act to an audience of all-white patrons and Muhammad Ali [then Cassius Clay] may have been met with roars of applause as he pummeled Sonny Liston for the heavyweight title in 1964, but neither Gregory, Ali or Liston could enjoy the amenities of Miami Beach. It was still segregated. But over in Brownsville, Black movers and shakers, celebrities and even ordinary people could sleep, play, socialize and perform in the iconic Hampton House. But that was in the distant past before the building fell into ruin. It was purchased by Miami-Dade County over a decade ago to protect it from demolition. And last week, after almost 10 years of planning and hard work, Dr. Enid Pinkney, executive director of the Historic Hampton House Community Trust [HHHCT], Inc., along with HHHCT Chairman of the Board of Trustees Dorothy Dottie Johnson, welcomed County Commissioner Audrey Edmonson, Deputy Mayor of Miami-Dade County Russell Benford and an exuberant community to the groundbreaking ceremony for the Hampton House [4200 NW 27th Avenue]. Completion of the project, led by Link Construction Group, is scheduled for January 2015. The motels two-story, 30,000 square-foot main building will be fully restored to its 1960s look. The 12 apartment buildings that were behind and which were part of the motel are being replaced by a privately-developed affordable housing complex that is now under construction. By D. Kevin McNeirkmcneir@miamitimesonline.com