Wells' Built Hotel
|NRHP reference #||00000006|
|Added to NRHP||February 4, 2000|
The 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. Dr. William Monroe Wells built the hotel, and a nearby entertainment venue, for African Americans visiting Orlando. During the segregation era, this hotel served as host to several now famous African-American performers. On February 4, 2000, it was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.
Dr. William M. Wells was a prominent African-American physician in Orlando during the first half of the 20th century. One of Orlando's first black doctors, Dr. Wells came to Orlando in 1917. In 1921 he built a hotel for African Americans barred from Florida's segregated hotels. Soon afterwards, he built South Street Casino, an entertainment venue he built to host touring black entertainers. Together, they became a central icon of the African American music community.
Many famous African American performers stayed at the hotel and performed at the Casino. A few include:
- Ella Fitzgerald
- Count Basie
- Ray Charles
- Cab Calloway
- Ivory Joe Hunter
- B.B. King
- Louis Armstrong
- Guitar Slim
- Bo Diddley
Although the Casino is gone, the original hotel remains and has been converted into a modest museum of African American history.
Wells' Built Museum
The hotel is now the home of the Wells' Built Museum, which opened in June 2009. The 6,000 ft. museum houses memorabilia of Orlando's African-American community and 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.
The museum's full name is the Wells' Built Museum of African American History and Culture .
- Orange County listings at National Register of Historic Places
- Well'sBuilt Museum of African American History and Culture at Florida's Office of Cultural and Historical Programs
- http://www.pastinc.org/history.htm Hotel history
- Wells'Built Museum - official site
- Article about the museum
- Podcast and photos on RICHES Mosaic Interface