How Miami is re-embracing its modernist architecture
From National Geographic: Biscayne Boulevard stretches out in a swirl of palm trees and pastels. Mid-century motels are painted in apricot, sky blue and ballet-slipper pink, while winking neon signs promise air conditioning and vacancies. Towering above them is the 35-foot Coppertone sign, showing a pigtailed girl and shaggy spaniel. A rainbow flag flies outside Jimmy’s Eastside Diner.
I’m in the heart of Miami’s MiMo District — ‘MiMo’ being an abbreviation of ‘Miami Modernist’ — and it’s a veritable time warp. The protected cluster of Miami Modern buildings, distinctive for their playful angles, bright colours and patterned railings, swoops along Biscayne Boulevard, extending roughly from 50th to 79th Street. It catapults you right back to the 1950s, and at the heart of it all is the Vagabond Hotel.
“This used to be the centre of the Magic City,” says May Mallouh, general manager at the hotel. “It’s what made Miami, Miami. And this specific hotel was the gem of the boulevard.”
Famed Hampton House in Brownsville gets historic designation
From Local 10 News: MIAMI – A South Florida landmark has been honored with a very important designation.
The Hampton House Motel was notified last week by the State of Florida and Federal Government that it had been added to the National Register of Historic Places.
Segregation in the 1960′s made the Hampton House a popular designation for traveling celebrities, athletes and black leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali, Joe Louis, Althea Gibson and Jackie Robinson.
‘Hood Century’: How One Man Is Redefining Midcentury Modern Architecture
From The New York Times: In 1928, a Black congregation in Cincinnati bought a German Gothic brick structure originally built in 1865 as a synagogue. Revelation Missionary Baptist Church, as they called it, was later led by the civil rights leader Fred L. Shuttlesworth and welcomed the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. when he visited.
The congregation updated the building with a modern addition in the 1970s, giving the church an aesthetic that came to symbolize Black progress in urban centers in the wake of the Civil Rights Movement. But in 2019, that alteration was cited as a reason the church could not receive a designation as a historic site, paving the way for the building to be torn down in 2019 to help make way for a soccer stadium.
The destruction deeply hurt Jerald Cooper, 39, who grew up in Cincinnati and still lives near the site of the church. “The modern addition was everything to me,” he said.” It was the best indoor-outdoor to me in the little courtyard. It was a safe place. It was our event center. It was where all my memories live.”
Desert Modernism: Warm Up With These Cool Events
From Midwest Home: Tired of the cold and snow? It’s time to heat things up with a trip to the desert and experience the coolest design festivals on earth. We’re talking Modernism, of course.
From Feb. 16 to 26, the town of Palm Springs opens its doors for the annual 11-day festival, Modernism Week, and tickets are available now. In addition to musical performances, presentations on landscape architecture, car shows, color consultations, bus tours, and opening weekend parties, this year’s activities also include a presentation on “The Modern Architectural Movement Chronicled – Photographer G. E. Kidder Smith”; Googie Modern Architecture with Alan Hess and “Googie” Film Sneak Peek!; the talk The Modern Utopia: Why the Southern California Desert? by Leo Marmol, FAIA; and Black Leaders of Leisure in Southern California during the Jim Crow Era: The Implications of their Stories Today, presented by historian Alison Rose Jefferson.
Saving a historic Sweet Auburn sidewalk sign
From Saporta Report: When preservationists talk about saving Auburn Avenue, we know they really mean the surviving buildings that tell the neighborhood’s history as an epicenter for African American business and cultural life under segregation.
But the latest effort is a call to preserve an actual part of the pavement: a tile sign for the long-gone Gate City Drug Store embedded in the sidewalk at Auburn and Jesse Hill Jr. Drive that has somehow survived largely intact after more than a century.
Historic Night and Day Café Neon Sign Shines Brightly Again
From The Coronado Times: It’s bright and beckoning and back to its former glory, like the 1954 historical beacon on Orange Avenue, lighting up Night & Day Café. The fascinating history starts in 1929 as the Night and Day Market where the current Wells Fargo building stands on Orange Avenue, just down the street from the cafe’s current location. It then moved to 841 Orange Avenue as the D and D Market until it landed in its current location at 847 Orange Avenue in 1954.
Coronado old-timers may remember Paul Zeller, who operated, cooked, and managed the cafe serving up hearty breakfasts, burgers and comfort food. In 1996, Mario Esquer, who worked as a manager for The Brigantine, went into silent partnership with his brother Hector to take over Night & Day Café. At the time, it was open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and was your classic “hole in the wall” diner, frequented by both military and locals after the bars closed. Jody Esquer remembers that the three-egg special and the “garbage omelet” (which is no longer on the menu but is under consideration to be brought back) were very popular menu items in that era.