Local Group Wants To Restore Former Home Of First African American Millionaire

The former home of Miami’s first black millionaire is falling apart but a local group is pushing for the restoration of the damaged building, which holds nearly 100 years of history.

The D.A. Dorsey House, located in Overtown, was owned by Dana Albert Dorsey, the son of former slaves who moved from South Georgia to Miami. Dorsey amassed a real estate empire, first owning Fisher Island then helping organize South Florida’s first black bank and black-owned hotel.

"This is during a time that blacks weren't even allowed to share the same facilities- not just water fountains not just restaurants, hotels, but blacks were not even allowed to go to beaches," said Timothy A. Barber, executive director of the Black Archives History and Research Foundation of South Florida, the group seeking to restore the historical landmark.

Although Dorsey’s former home now has a damaged roof and beat-up walls, it was considered a mansion in the early 1900s, Barber said. The Black Archives believe Dorsey’s story could inspire future generations, which is why the organization is seeking to turn the historical landmark into a museum.

The group received a $150,000 grant from the City of Miami to restore the home, but need more funds in order to transform the structure.

"I see this as a personal mission to see this rebuilt," said Patricia Jennings-Braynon, chairperson of Black Archives and the Historic Lyric Theatre Board. "Because of the Black Archives the lyric theater has put Overtown back on the map."

If you would like to help by donating to the Black Archives, you can visit them at the Historic Lyric Theatre or make a donation on the organizations GoFundMe page.

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