Hampton House was a Miami Beach hotel that served as a social hub for some of Black America’s most significant figures. During the days of Jim Crow segregation in the Deep South, Hampton House was a creative haven and resting place for Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali, Berry Gordy, Jackie Robinson, Ray Charles, Lena Horne, James Brown, Nina Simone and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., among others.
When it opened in the Brownsville section of Miami, Fla. in 1955, it was the only hotel in the Miami Beach area where Black entertainers could stay. As a result, Hampton House’s swank jazz lounge became a destination for singers like Sam Cooke and Sammy Davis Jr. The hotel boasted 24-hour room service, valet parking and many of the same amenities found at larger, white-owned establishments.
Officials say that King wrote an early draft of his famous 1963 “I Have A Dream Speech” and delivered a version of it while staying at the hotel. Muhammad Ali held his victory party there after beating Sonny Liston. Several historic photos of the hotel feature King, Ali, and others.
In 1972, the hotel shuttered its doors due to increasing competition and growth in the area because of desegregation. By 2001, the building was falling apart. But when members of the African-American committee of the Dade Heritage Trust learned that it was to be demolished, they sought to designate the site a protected historic landmark.
In 2002, The Historic House Community Trust was formed with Pinkney as its CEO. They sought to restore the building by using outside donations and raising awareness of Hampton House’s important historical legacy. That concerted effort ultimately led to Hampton House’s new life as a cultural and jazz center. It opens to the public today.
Learn more about the Hampton House HERE.
(Photo Virginia Key Beach website)