Little Known Black History Fact: The Jackson Rooming House

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    The Jackson Rooming House, the “Boarding House of the Stars” in Tampa, Florida, served as the only lodging for black entertainers and civil rights leaders during segregation. Located at 851 Zack Street, the Jackson Rooming House was the place to stay for Count Basie, Cab Calloway, James Brown, Ella Fitzgerald, and Ray Charles. The home was built by Moses and Sarah Jackson in 1901, and in 2007 the building was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.

    The original structure near the Tampa Union Station had six bedrooms. As popularity grew and segregation thrived, the Jacksons added 18 more rooms. The home was passed down through generations of the family and stayed in business until 1989. As the neighborhood was prepared for renewal efforts, the surrounding homes were demolished and the Jackson Rooming House was believed the be the last free standing residential home in the downtown Tampa area.

    Unfortunately, after the boarding house closed in 1989, the house was left unrestored. There is now a fight between members of the black community and the mayor’s office about the building. Mayor Bob Buckhorn wants to tear it down and has made many efforts to block the restoration of the Jackson House. The fight has now become focused on race relations in the city as a member of the NAACP and others in the community have spoken against the building’s demolish.

    The restoration of the Jackson Rooming House is estimated to cost over $925,000 over a three-year period.

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