Anheuser-Busch and City Beverages Help Restore Historic Hotel (FL)

Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national nonprofit organization, and the Association to Preserve African American Society, History and Tradition (PAST), today announced that they have received two grants to help complete the restoration of the historic Wells’Built Hotel—one of Orlando’s most culturally significant buildings—as a Museum of African American History.

Anheuser-Busch has provided a $25,000 grant to Trust for Public Land to complete the renovation of the African American landmark, and City Beverages, the local Anheuser-Busch distributor, has contributed $15,000 to the Orlando-based PAST. The PAST funds will be used for a museum curator and to organize and acquire exhibits.

“The Wells’Built is one of the most significant cultural landmarks in our community,” said President of City Beverages, Ford W. Kiene. “Anheuser-Busch and City Beverages are proud to be part of its preservation, not only for its historical significance but also to educate residents and visitors to Orlando about the community’s African American heritage. With the assistance of community leaders, parents and friends, we all make a difference.”

The Wells’Built is the last remaining pre-World War II African American hotel in Orlando and was one of the few hotels in Orlando serving African Americans during segregation. In the mid-1920s, Orlando’s Parramore neighborhood was the center of the city’s African American community. The streets bustled with commerce by day and music by night at Dr. William Wells’s South Street Casino, a popular dance hall. When big-name entertainers and athletes like Joe Louis, Ella Fitzgerald, Ray Charles, and Pegleg Bates came to town, they stayed at Wells’Built Hotel, next door to the casino on South Street.

The South Street Casino was demolished in 1987, but the historic Wells’Built Hotel still stands. Trust for Public Land purchased the Wells’Built in 1994 to save it from almost certain destruction by demolition or neglect. When renovation is completed, the Wells’Built will be managed by PAST as a museum of African American culture and history. Rehabilitation of the Wells’Built is part of Mayor Glenda Hood’s and the City of Orlando’s Parramore Heritage Project.

Founded in 1972, Trust for Public Land specializes in conservation real estate, applying its expertise in negotiations, public finance, and law to protect land for public use and enjoyment. Headquartered in San Francisco, and with 31 offices nationwide, including Tallahassee and Miami, TPL has helped protect more than 1 million acres of land for public use.

TPL has been involved in acquisition and preservation of numerous historic and culturally significant buildings including the Custom House in Key West; Centro Español in the Ybor City neighborhood of Tampa; the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical site in Atlanta; and the Brown v. Board of Education schoolhouse in Topeka, Kansas.

PAST was founded in 1991 to promote the preservation of African American culture and history in Orlando.