For Immediate Release
Wednesday, February 8, 2023
Contact: Mark Ard
PRESS RELEASE: Secretary Byrd Announces the Designation of the Hampton House Motel in the National Register of Historic Places
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. –
Florida Secretary of State Cord Byrd announced today that the Hampton House Motel in Brownsville, Miami-Dade County, has been listed in the National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places.
“I am pleased to announce that the Hampton House Motel has been listed in the National Register of Historic Places,” said Secretary of State Cord Byrd. “From the 1950s to the 1970s, the Hampton House Motel hosted meetings of prominent Black civil rights leaders, athletes, and entertainers. Today, through the efforts of dedicated local preservationists, it remains an integral part of Miami’s heritage.”
The Hampton House Motel, originally known as the Booker Terrace Motel, was built in 1954 and designed by Miami Modern architect Robert Karl Frese. Located in Miami-Dade County’s greater Brownsville neighborhood, the motel was purpose-built specifically for the Black community during the era of racial segregation. In 1961, owners Harry and Florence Markowitz renamed and renovated the motel, creating its iconic image that is preserved today.
The Hampton House Motel provided many upscale amenities, which were not typically available to Black travelers in the 1950s and 1960s. Private rooms and bathrooms, kitchenettes, and Brownsville’s first swimming pool made the Hampton House Motel the premiere accommodation for the Black community in Miami during the post-World War II period. The upscale motel also served as the social, entertainment, and political hub for Miami’s Black community. The motel’s nightclub hosted famous entertainers such as Aretha Franklin, James Brown, Sam Cooke, and Ella Fitzgerald. Notable athletes, such as Althea Gibson, Jackie Robinson, and Joe Louis, stayed at the Hampton House Motel during their Miami visits. Malcolm X frequented the motel, often to meet with his friend Muhammad Ali. Ali famously celebrated his 1964 victory over Sonny Liston in the motel’s coffee shop. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. used the motel to coordinate south Florida’s civil rights strategy and host press conferences. Documents show that an early version of Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech was delivered at the Hampton House Motel. Ultimately, the motel was a place associated with dignity and freedom for Miami-Dade County’s Black residents and visitors for two decades.
Restored courtyard and pool of the Hampton House Motel, showing original motel room layout
Following the end of racial segregation, the Hampton House Motel entered a period of decline and eventually closed in 1976. The building sat vacant for over thirty years. In 2000, it was slated to be demolished. Under the leadership of Dr. Enid Pinkney, the community created the Historic Hampton House Community Trust, Inc., to save the motel. In 2002, the Miami-Dade Historic Preservation Board designated the building as a local historic property and the county purchased the block on which the motel sits.
Since the early 2000s, Historic Hampton House has received several grants from the Division of Historical Resources to preserve the motel and share its history with the community. Major projects completed to date include structural engineering and stabilization, the restoration of the original motel plan and interior finishes, building systems upgrades, and collecting oral histories. The organization is currently working on a project to develop retail spaces, including a gift shop and café, and install museum exhibits. Building upon a legacy of successful historic preservation stewardship, Historic Hampton House oversees the ongoing work to preserve this important community landmark and educate the public about its legacy in the history of Florida’s civil rights movement. For more information on the Historic Hampton House, visit historichamptonhouse.org.
About The National Register of Historic Places
The National Register of Historic Places is a list maintained by the National Park Service which includes historical and archaeological properties including buildings, structures, sites, objects, and districts, that are considered worthy of preservation because of their local, statewide and/or national significance. Nominations for properties in Florida are submitted to the National Park Service through the Florida Department of State’s Division of Historical Resources. Florida has over 1,700 listings on the National Register, including 295 historic districts and 175 archaeological sites. There are more than 50,000 sites contributing to the National Register in Florida. For more information, visit flheritage.com/preservation/national-register. For more information about the National Register of Historic Places program administered by the National Park Service, visit nps.gov/nr.
About The Florida Department of State’s Bureau of Historic Preservation
The Bureau of Historic Preservation (BHP) conducts historic preservation programs aimed at identifying, evaluating, preserving, and interpreting the historic and cultural resources of the state. The Bureau manages the Florida Main Street Program, and under federal and state laws, oversees the National Register of Historic Places program for Florida, maintains an inventory of the state's historical resources in the Florida Master Site File, assists applicants in federal tax benefit and local government ad valorem tax relief programs for historic buildings, and reviews the impact that development projects may have on significant historic resources. For more information, visit flheritage.com/preservation.