Orlando, FL

The Historic Hotel Built In Orlando in 1924 For African Americans Barred From Segregated Hotels


The hotel, now African-American Museum, provided lodging for visiting African Americans. The casino served as a community center in which no gambling took place. The hotel and casino became a central icon of the African American music community.

Orlando, Florida: Well'sbuilt Hotel, now Museum of African American History & CulturePhoto byEbyabe/Wikimedia Commons

Dr. William Monroe Wells is one of Orlando’s first black doctors and a prominent African-American physician in Orlando during the first half of the 20th century. He arrived in Orlando Florida In 1917, touched by the plight of African Americans in the segregation era, decided to build the Wells’ Built Hotel and an entertainment center for visiting African Americans barred from Florida segregated Hotels. 

Although African Americans were taxpayers like other residents of Orlando, they did not have access to recreational facilities, good schools, police protection, health care, and other services that were provided to white citizens. This engendered Dr. Wells to build the South Street Casino and the hotel next door after being issued a building permit in 1924. The Hotel provided lodging to African Americans during the segregation era.

In the United States, racial segregation is the systematic separation of facilities and services such as housing, healthcare, education, employment, and transportation on racial grounds. Signs were used to indicate where African Americans could legally walk, talk, drink, rest, or eat. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of segregation in Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), so long as "separate but equal" facilities were provided, a requirement that was rarely met in practice. The doctrine's applicability to public schools was unanimously overturned in Brown v. Board of Education (1954) by the Supreme Court under Chief Justice Earl Warren

During the segregation era, the Wells’ Built hotel served as host to several now-famous African-American performers. Dr. Wells also built South Street Casino, an entertainment venue he built to host touring black entertainers. The casino served as a community center in which no gambling took place. The hotel and casino became a central icon of the African American music community. His establishments served the intended purpose as many famous African American performers stayed at the hotel and performed at the Casino. 

A few include Ella Fitzgerald, Ray Charles, Cab Calloway, Ivory Joe Hunter, B.B. King, Louis Armstrong, and Guitar Slim. Other prominent African Americans that visited the place include sports legend Jackie Robinson and Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall.

Although the Casino is gone, the original hotel remains and has been converted into a modest museum of African American history. It is now the home of the Wells' Built Museum since June 2009. The 6,000 feet (1,800 m) museum houses memorabilia of Orlando's African-American community. It also contains displays on the Civil Rights Movement in Orlando, along with some African art on loan from local collectors.

Exhibits include a 1930s-period hotel guestroom with authentic furniture, beading, and decorations, the South Street Casino, the Chitlin' Circuit performance hall that was formerly located next to the hotel, artifacts from Dr. William Monroe Wells, and other elements of Orlando's African American heritage.

Without the knowledge of history, We won’t understand and appreciate the roles many individuals played to end or ameliorate all kinds of social injustices in society. The Wells'Built Hotel or Wells' Built Hotel is a historic hotel that is now an African-American museum. It is located in Orlando, Florida, in the center of Orlando's historic Parramore district, at 511 West South Street. It was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places on February 4, 2000.

Author’s Note: This article is solely for information purposes. The embedded links and information shared in the article are attributed to history.com, en.wikipedia.com, and wellsbuilt.org...

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