Photo Source: The Tampa Tribune, photographed by Cliff McBride/Staff
The Jackson Rooming House was constructed in 1901 as a boarding house, providing accommodations to African-Americans in the city of Tampa during the racial segregation era. The house is known for many of it’s past guests which include Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Ray Charles, James Brown, Cab Calloway and Martin Luther King Jr.
Now the building faces possible demolition as city officials gave Willie Robinson, the owner of the 112-year-old building, until the end of November to fence off the property, submit plans on stabilizing the house and to secure liability insurance. Robinson said he didn’t have the money to meet the city’s demands and would demolish it.
Robinson changed his mind and met with supporters and preservationists, formulating a plan on saving the house. Under a deal they reached with Robinson, he would donate the house to a non-profit organization, the Jackson House Foundation, that would stabilize it and begin the restoration process.
The city has given the group 60 days to come up with $50,000 to stabilize the structure, though many officials believe that the rush to save it won’t work.