Miami hotel, symbol of segregation, to be restored

May 24, 2013 12:00PM

Miami’s historic Hampton House

Miami’s historic Hampton House, a favorite gathering place for prominent African Americans in the last days of segregation, will be restored as a mixed-used public space, the Miami Herald reported.

After Cassius Clay beat Sonny Liston for the heavyweight title in Miami Beach in 1964, he took his friend Malcolm X who had flown down for the fight to Hampton House, one of only a handful of Miami establishments open to African Americans at the time, for a celebratory ice cream.

The Hampton House hotel and its famous jazz club was where Martin Luther King Jr. held court while in town and where Sammy Davis Jr., Sam Cooke and Nat King Cole performed.

The two-story, 30,000-square-foot Miami Modern-style structure will be restored to its 1960s height, a $6 million project financed mostly with voter-approved county bond sales, the newspaper reported.

Project construction manager H. Patrick Brown told the Herald the Brownsville hotel’s “symbolic spaces” will be restored, including several guest rooms, including the one King is believe to have favored, furnished in period style from items salvaged by preservationists and opened as a museum.

The nonprofit Historic Hampton House Community will also restore a café, restaurant space and jazz club, but not the swimming pool where King was photographed, the Herald said. Completion is set for January 2015. [Miami Herald]Emily Schmall