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Old Posted Dec 20, 2019, 3:08 AM
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Miami's Bahamian history

Most people know Miami as an ultrmodern city, with gleaming highrises and expensive condos. But another side of Miami shows its ethnic past. While the Cuban neighborhood of Little Havana is very well-known, and many also know about Little Haiti, and some even know about the Dominican neighborhood inside the larger Allapattah neighborhood, a little section of Coconut Grove that is sometimes called "Little Bahamas" can be easily overlooked.

The neighborhood is centered on Charles Avenue, and was first Black community in Dade County. It was originally called Kebo by its early residents, although it is now part of the heart of Coconut Grove today.

Most Blacks in the community had originally come from the island of Eleuthera in the Bahamas. The land on Eleuthera had been exhausteed for farming and growing crops. Many had originally moved to Key West, which was the place in Florida most similar to the environment and way of life on Eleuthera. The Bahamians then came here in the 1880s to work at the Peacock Inn. The hotel was located at what is now Peacock Park, where McFarlane Road meets the Biscayne Bay, just a quarter-mile away from Charles Avenue.


The Ebeneezer Stirrup House is on Charles Avenue, near Main Highway. The house was built in 1897, and has been added onto so much over the years that its original vernacular architecture is largely hidden. Stirrup, a carpenter by trade, was paid with land by White landowners who did not have cash to pay for him to clear land and cut pine into boards. Stirrup became the largest landowner in Coconut Grove, and one of Florida's first Black millionaires.



The Mariah Brown House was built on Charles Avenue in 1890 for one of the first African Bahamians in Coconut Grove. Brown moved to Florida in 1880, and worked at the Peacock Inn, which employed mainly Bahamian immigrants.



Many of the houses along or near Charles Avenue display a vernacular architecture found in the Bahamas. Some also display vernacular architecture found in Key West, where many Bahamians first settled before eventually locating to Coconut Grove.













Balustrated porches, which are now mainly enclosed, on the first and second floors of residences are one vernacular style you'll see in the neighborhood.





Charles Avenue was originally known as Evangelist Street, for all of the churches on or near it. The denominations are the same ones that were brought from the Bahamas.





The two oldest congregations in Coconut Grove are Macedonia Baptist Church and St. Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church. Both were founded in 1895. Macedonia was founded as St. Agnes Baptist Church, and is the oldest African American congregation in Miami-Dade County. The church builsing dates to 1903.



St. Paul A.M.E. Church was founded in 1895, just a few months after St. Agnes Baptist Church. The old building was replaced in 1991 with this current church.



Charlotte Jane Memorial Park Cemetery is one of the area's oldest cemeteries. It is named for the wife of Ebeneezer Stirrup. At one time, it was the only place in Miami where Blacks could be interred.





Over time, Coconut Grove's Bahamian heritage gradually eroded. But, its Black history continued. This house on Frow Avenue served as a boarding house for migrant Black workers from the Carolinas and Georgia, until they could find permanent housing, until 2014.



Today, Coconut Grove has many layers of history, including its Bahamian past. All of it is celebrated throughout the neighborhood.

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Old Posted Dec 21, 2019, 4:00 PM
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Neat!
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Old Posted Dec 21, 2019, 10:54 PM
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Interesting, thank you!
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Old Posted Dec 28, 2019, 6:50 AM
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The Bahamians were a integral part of Miami's development and founding.
When Henry Flagler extended his railroad south and founded Miami many of his railroad & construction workers were Bahamians.
To honor their culture and legacy to Miami the city celebrates with the annual Goombay festival.

Video Link


xzmattzx Thank you for this thread & pics and showing another side of Miami's culture and history!

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Old Posted Dec 29, 2019, 3:09 PM
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Great thread. Thanks so much for sharing. Often wondered about Miami's history.
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Old Posted Feb 2, 2020, 8:28 AM
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I had no idea of this heritage when I walked around the area nearby!
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Old Posted Jan 13, 2022, 4:29 PM
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Hello does anyone have photographs of the original The St. Paul AME Church in Coconut Grove, founded in 1896?
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