history

THE HISTORY

Let’s go back in time to dazzling 1960s Miami. Recall icons like Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr. and the rest of The Rat Pack cavorting around Miami Beach’s glittering nightclubs. It was in Miami Beach in 1964 when Muhammad Ali—then still called Cassius Clay—defeated defending heavyweight world champion Sonny Liston and claimed the title for himself for the first time. He made his home in Miami and famously trained at the Fifth Street Gym in South Beach with Angelo Dundee to become “The Greatest of All Time.”

The 1960s were also a tumultuous time in Miami with racial inequality and segregation laws were strictly enforced. While Ali had his star-making win in Miami Beach on February 25,1964, he was not allowed to spend the night in Miami Beach because of Jim Crow’s segregation laws. He went instead to the Hampton House Motel in Miami’s Brownsville neighborhood, a story later shared on the big screen called, One Night In Miami, directed by Regina King. The Historic Hampton House was just outside of Miami’s Brownsville neighborhood on the mainland, where Ali would later celebrate with his friend Malcolm X. It’s said that he enjoyed a bowl of ice cream to mark his big win.

During this time, the Hampton House was the place to see and be seen in Miami’s black community, replacing the former hotspots of Overtown, like the Sir John. Overtown’s community began to fall into disrepair as the more affluent members of the neighborhood migrated to Miami’s Brownsville neighborhood in the 1960s after the opening of Liberty Square apartments.

THE HISTORY

Let’s go back in time to dazzling 1960s Miami. Recall icons like Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr. and the rest of The Rat Pack cavorting around Miami Beach’s glittering nightclubs. It was in Miami Beach in 1964 when Muhammad Ali—then still called Cassius Clay—defeated defending heavyweight world champion Sonny Liston and claimed the title for himself for the first time. He made his home in Miami and famously trained at the Fifth Street Gym in South Beach with Angelo Dundee to become “The Greatest of All Time.”

The 1960s were also a tumultuous time in Miami with racial inequality and segregation laws were strictly enforced. While Ali had his star-making win in Miami Beach on February 25,1964, he was not allowed to spend the night in Miami Beach because of Jim Crow’s segregation laws. He went instead to the Hampton House Motel in Miami’s Brownsville neighborhood, a story later shared on the big screen called, One Night In Miami, directed by Regina King. The Historic Hampton House was just outside of Miami’s Brownsville neighborhood on the mainland, where Ali would later celebrate with his friend Malcolm X. It’s said that he enjoyed a bowl of ice cream to mark his big win.

During this time, the Hampton House was the place to see and be seen in Miami’s black community, replacing the former hotspots of Overtown, like the Sir John. Overtown’s community began to fall into disrepair as the more affluent members of the neighborhood migrated to Miami’s Brownsville neighborhood in the 1960s after the opening of Liberty Square apartments.

SOCIAL CENTER

While Miami Beach was in the spotlight for its musicians and nightclub acts, it was Miami’s Brownsville neighborhood and the Hampton House that the black performers returned to when the show was over. These musicians included Sammy Davis, Jr., Sam Cooke, Nat King Cole and many others. Berry Gordy, founder of MoTown Records stayed here, and DJ China Valles broadcast a live jazz show from the club on radio station WMBM.

Not only Ali, but other athletes also visited the Hampton House, including Jackie Robinson, Joe Louis and Althea Gibson. It wasn’t just a celebrity hangout, though. It was a hotspot for people of the neighborhood on weekend evenings and after church on Sundays.

The two-story, 50-room Miami Modern-style inn had a jazz club, restaurant and a swimming pool. Martin Luther King, Jr. was famously photographed in his swim trunks enjoying a dip in the pool. While the Hampton House was a hotspot for entertainment and known as the “Social Center for the South,” it was also the sight for weekly meetings by the Congress for Racial Equality. Dr. King visited often during the early 1960s and delivered a version of his “I Have a Dream” speech at the Hampton House in 1960 before his legendary oration at the March on Washington in 1963.

NEW VISION

As segregation laws lifted in the late 1960s, many prominent members of Brownsville’s black community dispersed to other Miami neighborhoods, leaving the area in economic blight. The Hampton House eventually closed in 1976 and remained an abandoned shell of a building into the early 2000s. Threatened with demolition, an advocacy group declared the block a protected historical sight in 2002 and was eventually purchased by the county.

In 2015, The Historic Hampton House started restoration on a
$6 million budget, thanks to the efforts of the preservationist Dr. Enid Pinkney’s committed focus. The restored Hampton House will function as a museum and community center with plans to have an onsite cafe, jazz club, sponsored events, and the restoration of selected rooms where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stayed and Muhammad Ali during their visits.

With the recent release of One Night In Miami that features Regina King’s directorial debut, the timing has offered new attention to this iconic relic.

Then and now, the Hampton House is a valuable piece of Miami’s Black history, and it’s the only segregated hotel of that era still standing. Dr. Pinkney and the board members’ restoration and vision are clear and intentional, as they bring back the Historic Hampton House as a relevant and rich resource, as it becomes a point of pride once again.

NEW VISION

As segregation laws lifted in the late 1960s, many prominent members of Brownsville’s black community dispersed to other Miami neighborhoods, leaving the area in economic blight. The Hampton House eventually closed in 1976 and remained an abandoned shell of a building into the early 2000s. Threatened with demolition, an advocacy group declared the block a protected historical sight in 2002 and was eventually purchased by the county.

In 2015, The Historic Hampton House started restoration on a
$6 million budget, thanks to the efforts of the preservationist Dr. Enid Pinkney’s committed focus. The restored Hampton House will function as a museum and community center with plans to have an onsite cafe, jazz club, sponsored events, and the restoration of selected rooms where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stayed and Muhammad Ali during their visits.

With the recent release of One Night In Miami that features Regina King’s directorial debut, the timing has offered new attention to this iconic relic.

Then and now, the Hampton House is a valuable piece of Miami’s Black history, and it’s the only segregated hotel of that era still standing. Dr. Pinkney and the board members’ restoration and vision are clear and intentional, as they bring back the Historic Hampton House as a relevant and rich resource, as it becomes a point of pride once again.

Telling the Story Better

The Historic Hampton House will share the Green Book Experience through a new PERMANENT EXHIBITION consisting of a riveting virtual reality film short by filmmaker Qasim Basir to enable museum guests to experience firsthand the challenges of traveling as a person of color in the United States. After the film and a compelling photo and artifacts exhibition will complete Green Book hotels' significance in American History.

The PERMANENT EXHIBITION photo and artifact experience will be curated by a team led by Juanita Moore, a historian of African American history and former head of the Wright Museum, the second-largest museum of African American History in the country. The collection of photos and artifacts make up a large part of the museum's archives.

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4240 NW 27th Ave #3010
Miami, Florida 33142

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Find Us

4240 NW 27th Ave #3010
Miami, Florida 33142

Join Us