|Written by Christine Rupp, Special to the BT|
A ballot measure will secure efforts to preserve Miami’s heritage
In an ever-evolving Miami, those who know and appreciate the city’s 120-year history understand the vital role of historic preservation in maintaining Miami’s unique sense of place. This election season, voters in the City of Miami have an opportunity to support historic preservation and secure the future of Dade Heritage Trust by voting Yes on Amendment #238.
If approved, this charter amendment will make the historic original office of James Jackson, M.D., Miami’s first physician and Jackson Memorial Hospital’s namesake, the permanent home of Dade Heritage Trust (DHT), Miami’s largest historic preservation organization.
In 1976 the City of Miami purchased Dr. Jackson’s building, located in the heart of the Brickell area at 190 SE 12th Terr., and turned to Dade Heritage Trust to restore, operate, and maintain it. Since that time, DHT has called the Jackson office and surgery its headquarters on a month-to-month basis.
If passed, the charter amendment will allow the city to enter into a 30-year lease of the building, along with two renewal options for a minimum annual rent of $600, in addition to DHT’s ongoing commitment to maintain the facility for the benefit of the public at a cost of approximately $40,000 per year.
The charter amendment is essential to DHT’s continued efforts to carry out its mission of safeguarding Miami’s architectural and environmental heritage. The current lease puts the nonprofit organization at an extreme disadvantage when competing for grants and other financial support dedicated to the upkeep of the 111-year old surgical center.
This historic gem, among a multitude of modern towers, also functions as a gallery and Official Heritage Tourism Visitors Center, open to the public seven days a week, receiving visitors from around the globe every day.
Since opening in February 2016, the center has welcomed almost 5000 people for tours, events, and programs. A current exhibit, “Office Evolution,” explains the building’s history and that of the Brickell neighborhood. Another semi-permanent exhibit features Dr. Jackson’s medical artifacts, tools, and medicines, and depicts an early Miami medical office.
Established in 1972, Dade Heritage Trust works to preserve historic buildings and venues throughout Miami-Dade County. In addition to the medical office, DHT has assisted with the preservation and restoration of old Miami High, the William Wagner Homestead in Lummus Park, the Cape Florida Lighthouse, the Hubbard-Alvarez Bungalow in Little Havana, the Miami Circle, the Freedom Tower, the Historic Hampton House, and the Miami City Cemetery, to name a few. Efforts are ongoing to save and restore the Miami Marine Stadium, Dorsey Library, Babylon Apartments, and historic buildings in Little Havana.
Today DHT provides the community with an array of public programs, including educational walking tours, bike tours, bus tours, primary school programming, and a library of information on all of the historic sites in the county for public use. The Dade Heritage Trust headquarters also serves as a gallery with original exhibits based on the mission of the organization.
DHT’s tours educate participants about the history, architecture, environment, and archeology of the Brickell neighborhood and urban Miami. Bike tours, which generally garner 30 to 40 riders, take place the second Sunday of every month and offer a different theme and different area for each tour; the Brickell Avenue Walking Tours are hosted twice monthly.
Dade Heritage Trust works to create a sense of place and history for our community’s children. The organization is developing programs to take Miami-Dade County students to historic Miami parks to encourage outdoor activities and teach them about the special buildings that reside in those parks, such as Lummus Park on the Miami River.
On December 17, there will be a special bus tour guided by historian Paul George, featuring 11 of the most endangered sites in Miami. Tour stops showcase a variety of areas, architectural styles, eras, and uses, and include: Bay Harbor Islands apartments, the DuPuis Medical Building, Lummus Park Cottage, Coconut Grove Playhouse, Dorsey Memorial Library, Dorsey House, Miami Marine Stadium, Miami Woman’s Club, and the neighborhoods of Shenandoah and Little Havana.
In addition to the 11 most endangered sites, Dade Heritage Trust has also assembled a watch list of structures that deserve continued observation to secure their place in our community’s historic building inventory.
As Miami’s building boom continues, it’s increasingly important that we provide residents -- new and old alike -- with a sense of Miami’s unique history. Learning about the history, current condition, and future plans for these venues is essential if we are to preserve them for future generations.
Dade Heritage Trust is counting on the voters of the City of Miami to support its work by voting in favor of the charter amendment -- #238 -- on November 8 and allowing the nonprofit organization to continue to serve the community from its historic home.
Christine Rupp is the executive director of Dade Heritage Trust
Volume 15, Issue 2, April 2017
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