Historic Hampton House
This former hotel served African American visitors between 1954 and 1972--the final years of formal and informal racial segregation in Miami. Influential leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr, Jackie Robinson, and Malcolm X all stayed at the hotel. As Miami hotels began to open their doors to all patrons regardless of race in the 1960s, the hotel experienced declining reservations and the building was sold in 1972. The building fell into disrepair in subsequent years, but owing to its historic significance, $6 million has been spent restoring the former hub of black community life. In May 2015, the historic hotel celebrated its grand reopening celebration.
Backstory and Context
Owned and operated by Harry and Florence Markowitz, the Hampton House became the place to see and be seen by numerous African American celebrities, politicians, and civil rights leaders who came to Miami for various reasons. Its jazz club patrons were entertained by the likes of Sam Cooke, Sammy Davis Jr, and Nat King Cole who could not stay in any Miami Beach hotels after performing there due the segregation laws of the time.
After integration arrived, the Hampton House closed in 1972, was sold, and quickly fell into disrepair. It became the home of vagrants and drug addicts as its ceilings collapsed and walls sagged and was scheduled for demolition in 2000. Shortly after, the community, in the form of the Historic Hampton House Community Trust stepped in to raise funds and lobby the local legislature to spare the iconic hotel in 2002. It has since been designated as a local historic site.
The renovations finally began in 2009 and restored the lobby, some guest rooms, café, patio, and pool area by its 2015 reopening. The renovations are ongoing, and there are plans to turn the former hotel into a community hub, complete with restaurant, office space for community groups, museum, and a venue for live entertainment.