MIAMI - Work on the Historic Hampton House Motel on NW 27th Avenue and 42nd Street in Miami is well under way. Once a thriving place to stay in a segregated Miami, it will soon be renovated into a community meeting place for all.
Enid Pinkney unwraps pictures in her office from the hotel's golden age -- a time when Malcolm X snapped a pictures of Mohammad Ali at the lunch counter, and Martin Luther King Jr planned civil rights strategy sessions.
"It served as a social center for the community as well as the politics that was involved," Pinkney said.
"Martin Luther King came and made his speech there, the "I Have A Dream "speech, of course," said Miami-Dade County Commissioner Audrey Edmonson.
In the 1960s, the Hampton House Motel was one of the few places where black entertainers, sports celebrities, politicians and visitors could stay in the days of racial segregation.
"It was the place to go," Pinkey said. "It was such an elegant looking place. The ambiance was just so beautiful."
By the 1970s and desegregation, the motel was out of business. The building became rundown and its walls were in danger of caving in.
Pinkney and others stepped in, raising money to get the renovation started to bring the Hampton House back.
Walls and floors are being strengthened to meet current building codes. When finished in a year and a half, the Historic Hampton House won't be a motel. It will have a community meeting room and museum, documenting for a new generation the civil rights struggle others fought before them.
They never experienced it, but this will give them the opportunity to walk in there and actually see what occurred back in the 50s and the 60s," Edmonson said. "We want this current generation to understand from whence we have come, and we want them to understand upon whose shoulders they now stand."
The renovated Hampton House is expected to open in March of 2015 at a cost of around $8 million. The money came from county bonds and private donations. The Historic Hampton House Trust will be responsible for upkeep.
Money to pay for it will come from tenants businesses and renting out the facilities for events.
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